European Union External Action

Remarks by High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the joint press conference with Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, following the Informal Defence Council

Amsterdam, 05/02/2016 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 160205_02

Amsterdam, 5 February 2016

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We had a very intense, positive and informal discussion with the defence ministers of the 28 this morning. We were joined also by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and by our friend and colleague from the United Nations, the Deputy Secretary General Hervé Ladsous, for two important discussions.

The first one was on defence cooperation, especially on capabilities, inside the European Union and also how this reinforces the EU-NATO cooperation; the second one, on our CSDP missions and operations with a special focus on our actions in Africa: in the Horn of Africa, in the Central African Republic, in the Sahel. We also had an update on our work in Libya and our current work in Afghanistan with the need to continue to stabilize the country. I will keep my introduction very short because we do not have that much time.

We ended up with a joint working lunch with the Foreign Ministers - so Defence and Foreign Ministers- to discuss the preparation of our EU Global Strategy. We had a first occasion to have this exchange together with the Development ministers who were here in Amsterdam on Monday and we identified, I would say, a very solid common ground for proceeding now with the drafting.

I will present the Global Strategy in the end of June to the European Council and then this will be followed most likely by an operationalising paper, a kind of action plan specifically on defence and security, to make sure that the principles and the vision we defined in the strategy are followed up by concrete actions by all 28 in the coming months.

I stop here, but I would like first to thank very much Jeanine as well as tomorrow in the same room I will thank Bert [Koenders] for an excellent cooperation, an excellent preparation of the informal council, a wonderful hospitality and, really, working together is a pleasure.

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Q: On Libya.

A. Thank you for the question. We have discussed this indeed at length. Not only among us the 28 Member States, the European Union but also with the United Nations and NATO Secretary General. We all stated very clearly that, first, we are all ready. When it comes to the European Union, we have already started to discuss this. We are ready to provide all the potential possible support to a Government of National Accord, including in the security sector in the moment when the government will hopefully start governing and being endorsed by the Parliament, and in the forms that the government itself would require. We will discuss our options with them.

Second, there is going to be all the possible support. But this is going to be discussed, debated and decided together with the Libyans. This is the two things on which there is full support. Obviously we also have already started to explore options. Both when it comes to the next phases of operation Sophia we have at sea. That could move to the next phase - phase 2B and then phase 3 - in the moment when the Libyan authorities might find it useful to go into this cooperation. First of all, we have to have Libyan authorities in place but we have started to discuss this also with the Libyans. We have also started to discuss the possibility of reviewing the mandate of the operation Sophia to include some training possibilities for the coast guards, for instance, of Libya.

So using all the potential, we have also including EUBAM which is our instrument for boarder management, to include training, assistance, institution building and security sector reform. On our side work is well under preparation. We also stated very clearly that the best condition to fight against Da'esh in Libya is going to be counting on the Government of National Accord to be in place and to work in partnership with them to fight and defeat Da'esh also in Libya.

Q:Può commentare il caso del giovane studente italiano ucciso in Egitto e delle conseguenze che questo caso può avere sulle relazioni europee con l'Egitto del presidente el-Sisi?

A. Sapete bene che tendo a non commentare temi che non sono relativi alle riunioni che ci sono state. In questo caso faccio certamente un'eccezione perché è un caso che credo abbia sconvolto tutti noi, non soltanto italiani, ma anche europei. Ho parlato della questione anche con il Ministro degli Esteri Sameh Shoukry proprio ieri a Londra e ovviamente con il Ministro Paolo Gentiloni.

In questi giorni l'Unione Europea è certamente al fianco dell'Italia, in modo molto forte, per cercare di fare in modo che la massima collaborazione sia garantita da parte delle autorità egiziane, che la massima chiarezza sia fatta sulle responsabilità e sulla dinamica. In questo e come in eventuali altri casi che possano avvenire per i cittadini dell'Unione Europea, l'Unione Europea è pronta a fare quanto in suo potere sia sul piano diplomatico, sia sul piano delle relazioni anche personali che ci sono con le autorità in questo caso egiziane, per facilitare il lavoro delle autorità italiane, che mi sembra che sia stato tempestivo ed effettivamente molto efficace nel chiedere ciò che serve e nel cercare di ottenerlo.

Siamo insieme, spingendo nella stessa direzione per cercare di avere massima collaborazione e massima chiarezza.

Q.On Libya/ plan B?

A. I have a simple rule. You do not talk about Plan B if you believe that Plan A has to work. Especially in these days when we have the Presidency Council and Prime Minister designated Serraj meeting in Morocco in these hours, trying to finalise the list of the Ministers.  We are putting pressure, within the international community, through the UN, to make sure that Libyans manage to unite and deliver on what they have themselves signed. We have to focus on this. If you work seriously and hard as we are doing on Plan A and you know that Plan A would work if conditions are there you avoid planning B, C or D.  The priority is making this work.

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