European Union External Action

Remarks by HR/VP Mogherini at the press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council

Luxembourg, 15/10/2018 - 17:07, UNIQUE ID: 181015_8

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council

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Thank you very much.

First of all, we had a good discussion with the Ministers [of Foreign Affairs] on Libya, where we saw unity. I have seen that some Ministers already conveyed to you this message of unity in the work that we are doing and that we want to do even more in the weeks and months to come in support, first of all, for the political process - elections, both presidential and parliamentary elections – to take place as soon as possible, but with the right security and political framework.

Political framework means a legal framework that makes it clear for what the Libyans are going to vote, with the constitutional framework if possible; support to the UN Secretary General's Special Representative [to Libya, Ghassan] Salamé translates also on the other two sectors of his action together with the political transition, which are the economic reforms and the security arrangements. In particular, we have looked with the Ministers at how we can as the European Union, together with Member States, increase our support to the consolidation of the ceasefire and the implementation of the security arrangements.

As you know we have some instruments in place already on the security front, namely Operation Sophia for which all Member States have indicated that they want to keep and continue it, in particular when it comes to fighting against smugglers and traffickers and their business model, but also in their training to the Libyan coast guards. We also have EUBAM [EU Border Assistance Mission, in Libya], our mission that is helping the work inside Libya on border management in particular. And we have a liaison [and planning] cell (EULPC) that is working on security conditions and situation.

Our presence in Libya has been intensified in these weeks in complicated circumstances, but this is something that is going to continue and we put this support at the disposal of the United Nations  - and of the Libyans, obviously. We also indicated full support to the upcoming conference in Palermo that Italy is organising. All Member States indicated that they welcome this conference and we will follow up from that one.

The message that comes out of the Foreign Ministers' meeting today on Libya is a message of unity and of determination to work even more to support a Libyan-found solution to the situation in the country under UN auspices.

We then had an excellent exchange with the UN agencies that are dealing with migration and refugees. We were glad to welcome the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and by video-link the new Director-General of the International Organisation for Migration, Antonio Vitorino, in this way highlighting the strategic partnership the European Union has with the United Nations on this issue.

We have reviewed all our current fields of cooperation starting from Libya. You know that we have been working very well with the UN agencies to free migrants and refugees that were in the detention centres inside Libya, arranging for them to be evacuated through Niger, either to go back through voluntary returns or to be protected through mechanisms guaranteed by the UNHCR [United Nations Refugee Agency]. We want to accelerate that process.

We also looked at ways in which we can increase our cooperation on other routes apart from the Central Mediterranean one. Let me stress that the Central Mediterranean route has gone down by 80-85 percent this year, while we have seen an increase by 150 percent on the Western Mediterranean route, so we decided to increase our work, in particular with Morocco and Mauritania.

We are already putting in place some new measures in this respect, like funds that will be allocated to cooperate with these countries to manage together the Western Mediterranean route - obviously, keeping a very careful eye on the Eastern Mediterranean route, but also to global trends that we are seeing. Filippo Grandi was just back from a Latin America visit and briefed us also on the situation of Venezuelan citizens moving around the area, with a large number of refugees and migrants coming out of the country.

And then we cooperate on many other issues and crises, on refugees - in particular Syria but I can also mention Myanmar and the Rohingya crisis and many others.

So we decided to preserve some of the good results we have already achieved, strengthen our cooperation with the UN and with our partners, namely the African Union and the countries of origins and transit, finance more our EU [Emergency] Trust Fund [for Africa] for projects along the routes. Here I made an appeal to Member States to contribute more to the Trust Fund and also to focus on new ways in which we can address the shifting of migration routes elsewhere from the Central Mediterranean one.

We then had a point on the Central African Republic - we also adopted Conclusions that we already published so you can have a look at that - deciding to increase our work with the country, both in terms of humanitarian and development aid, but also in terms of support to security. We already have a presence there in this respect, a training mission [EUTM RCA], that we want to strengthen.

Then we had a discussion with the Ministers on the situation in Venezuela, where I want to be very clear: We reaffirmed our strong position on the political crisis in Venezuela. You know that we have already introduced targeted sanctions on individuals that are responsible for violation of human rights – namely political rights – in Venezuela. This policy is going to continue. The European Union is not looking at softening its position on Venezuela in any way.

On the other side, we also believe that there can only be a democratic political solution to the current crisis in the country and this is why we will explore the possibility of establishing a contact group to see if there are the conditions to facilitate not a mediation - there are clearly not the conditions for that -, or a dialogue, but a political process: a way to be in contact with the different parties - obviously not only the government, but also the different sides of the opposition, involving some regional international actors - and as I said, exploring the possibility of creating conditions for a political process to be started.

I do not want to create expectations here, we have not decided to constitute it yet, but just to explore the possibility of doing so, because we are worried that in the lack - in the absence - of a political process, tensions could only get worse. The situation of the Venezuelan people, among which many hundreds of thousands of European citizens, could become even worse.

We do not want to just sit and wait for this to happen. We want to try and see if the European Union can play a useful role together with others and try to avoid that the situation grows from bad to worse - or actually from worse to even worse.




[EUNAVFOR MED] Operation Sophia is observing and monitoring the oil trafficking and smuggling of Libyan oil revenues. These revenues go back to the militia, making them richer, wealthier, and also create more competition and conflict between these militias. Which actions are the EU's specific services conducting to stop this oil smuggling? Would you envisage specific sanctions against the militia, mainly those who are in Tripoli, who are blocking the peace process - even if the sanction would be taken unilaterally by the EU, although these smuggled oil revenues maybe go to European banks but also other banks in other regions?


First of all, part of our work together with the UN Special Representative [for Libya, Ghassan Salamé] and in full support to his work, is to make sure that the oil revenues - the legal ones, the regular ones – are equally and transparently getting where they should get. Meaning, as I said many times, Libya is a rich country in terms of resources and of the money that comes out of these natural resources. The point is how to make the revenues flow transparently and equally shared in a proper manner, so that it benefits the Libyan people. This is a work that we are supporting and that the UN Special Representative [Salamé] is investing a lot of energy in doing.


When it comes to the irregular flows of oil, the smuggling of oil, we are starting to monitor this. As you know, in Operation Sophia, the main mandate, the core mandate is dismantling the traffickers' and the smugglers' networks. We added two elements to the mandate: one related to the training of the coast guards of Libya, the other one is the monitoring and the implementation of the UN mandate to stop the arms flows. On the oil, we are still working.


But we have decided today together with the Ministers [of Foreign Affairs] to look at ways in which the national central banks in the European Union Member States can trace the money flows in a better way so that, following the money flows, we can be more effective in determining who is acting on which fronts, be it smuggling of oil, of arms, or of human beings and having this in impact on the different financing of the militia or the political and military fights.


The second part of the question was on sanctions. We have discussed this with [Ghassan] Salamé. I understand that work is still ongoing within the Security Council of the United Nations, so what we discussed today with the Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States is the need for the EU Member States that are currently sitting in the UN Security Council to coordinate positions in this respect and coordinate very closely with [Ghassan] Salamé.


We have seen that President [of the United States, Donald] Trump is going to send his Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] to Saudi Arabia to try and find out what really happened with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. Can you give an indication of what the EU Foreign Ministers collectively think about this situation? Any message that you have for the Saudi regime? On Brexit: can you give a sense of your feeling? Are you feeling optimistic this week, are you less optimistic?


I think I will leave the second question for later in the week, and as I said this morning, Brexit is not a foreign policy issue for the European Union yet. We have the [UK] Foreign Secretary [Jeremy Hunt] sitting around the table, we cooperate and take decisions together well and from now to the end of March, I will continue to be chairing a Council with 28 Member States and I am sitting here in this capacity, so I will not comment on Brexit.


On Saudi Arabia, as I said this morning, coming in the Council, I can confirm this, we have talked about that with the Foreign Ministers of the 28 Member States and there was full consensus around the table on the fact that we expect transparency, we expect full clarity from investigations to be done by the Saudi authorities together and in full cooperation with the Turkish authorities. We support very much the messages that come along the same lines from other partners, starting from Washington. I expressed myself the first time on exactly the same day when Secretary [of State of the United States, Mike] Pompeo said exactly the same words we said. I think we are completely on the same page with our American friends on this: we expect transparency and we wait for having more clarity on what happened in this case that is a particularly dramatic one.


Sur la Libye. Vous avez parlé du centre au Niger; on n'en parle pas suffisamment bien. C'est le premier hotspot en territoire non-européen pour traiter le cas de personnes qui sont tentées par l'immigration et de déterminer ceux qu'on renvoie dans leur pays et ceux qui peuvent bénéficier d'une protection internationale. Envisagez-vous de faire quelque chose de similaire, vous avez parlé de la Méditerranée orientale, au Maroc ou en Mauritanie: où en êtes-vous des pourparlers avec ces pays pour installer un centre comme celui-là?

Ensuite, vous avez parlé de finances: on sait que le grand mouvement de réfugiés en Syrie, c'est quand le PAM [Programme Alimentaire Mondial] a annoncé qu'il n'avait plus d'argent, qu'il ne pouvait plus payer la nourriture pour les gens réfugiés dans les pays limitrophes, que les gens ont compris que leurs enfants n'iraient plus à l'école et qu'il y avait no future. Où en est-on de cette situation? L'Europe parle et promet beaucoup mais n'agit jamais. Le G5 Sahel et les gens sur le Fonds Fiduciaire protestent parce qu'il n'y a pas d'argent. On est riche mais on en donne jamais. Est-ce qu'un jour vous allez secouer le marronnier et leur dire de payer?


Il y a exactement une semaine, à Barcelone, j'ai reçu la question d'un de vos collègues qui me demandait si l'Union européenne est un acteur ou non en Syrie. Vous me connaissez bien maintenant, j'ai réagi avec une certaine énergie en disant que l'Union européenne n'est pas un acteur militaire en Syrie mais nous sommes les seuls qui agissent sur l'aspect humanitaire mais aussi sur le soutien politique.


Nous sommes presque les seuls à insister sur ce point-là et nous allons continuer à insister sur le fait qu'il faut avoir un processus politique sous les hospices de Mr [Staffan] De Mistura [Envoyé Spécial du Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies pour la Syrie] à Genève dans un cadre de légitimité internationale. Nous sommes presque les seuls, et sûrement les plus grands donateurs en ce qui concerne les agences des Nations Unies, et en particulier le PAM. 


J'ai rencontré le Directeur Général du PAM [David Beasley] qui était à Bruxelles il y a quelques jours. L'Union européenne est le premier donateur pour le PAM et le PAM est l'agence des Nations Unies qui reçoit le plus d'argent parmi toutes les agences des Nations Unies qui reçoivent de l'argent de l'Union européenne. Tout cela pour dire que je pense que la leçon a été comprise et que l'Union européenne est en train d'agir selon les promesses d'argent que nous avons faites notamment pendant la Conférence [Aide à apporter pour l'avenir de la Syrie et des pays de la région] de Bruxelles, au printemps de cette année.


Nous allons continuer à le faire, pas seulement parce que nous avons appris que c'est la meilleure chose à faire pour notre propre sécurité et stabilité, mais pour des raisons humanitaires. Il n'y aura pas de futur pour la Syrie s'il n'y a plus de Syriens en Syrie. Fournir de l'aide humanitaire par le biais des Nations Unies est une priorité pour nous et je dirai un devoir moral et également un intérêt précis.


Au Niger, le travail qui est fait par l'OIM [Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations] et le HCR [Haut-Commissariat des Nations Unies pour les Réfugiés] est un travail d'assistance aux migrants qui viennent du Sud vers la Libye, d'information, parfois littéralement de sauvetage, d'assistance médicale et alimentaire mais c'est aussi un centre où, les gens qui sont sauvés des centres de détention en Libye, sont envoyés pour pouvoir retourner chez eux volontairement et de façon correctement gérée par les agences des Nations Unies, et les autres qui doivent être protégés du point de vue du droit international – les réfugiés – peuvent avoir accès à la protection internationale y compris en Europe. Rien qu'hier soir et ce matin, il y a eu des centaines de réfugiés ont été relocalisés en Europe.


C'est un travail des Nations Unies et de ses agences que l'UE est en train de soutenir avec de l'argent, avec de l'assistance logistique et des places pour protéger des gens qui ont besoin de protection internationale. C'est un centre qui existait déjà avant la crise mais qui ne fonctionnait pas et qui maintenant fonctionne. Nous avons parlé aujourd'hui avec les Ministres de la nécessité de soutenir encore plus ce travail, premièrement en donnant des places pour les réfugiés parce que le Niger ne peut pas soutenir la présence d'un grand nombre de personnes dans ce centre en même temps, donc il faut avoir la garantie d'un flux de protection constante que l'Europe – et pas seulement l'Europe – offre et va continuer à offrir pour les réfugiés.


Les autres, nous sommes en train de les accompagner – comme je l'ai dit, volontairement – vers leurs pays d'origine, aussi avec des programmes de soutien pour la réintégration dans leur communauté locale avec des projets de réinsertion ou de création d'emplois.


Avec le Maroc, le travail que l'on est en train de faire est pour l'instant un travail de soutien à leurs mesures de contrôle du territoire et des frontières. Ce sont des types de mouvement différents que ceux que nous avons vu entre le Niger et la Libye; ce sont des pays complètement différents, avec un système de contrôle frontalier et des mouvements de transport totalement différents donc les mesures seront différentes. Nous sommes en train de discuter avec le Maroc et la Mauritanie où je pense qu'une mission technique de l'Union européenne va se rendre cette semaine ou la prochaine pour discuter ensemble des mesures les plus appropriées que nous pouvons soutenir pour rendre le travail qu'ils sont en train de mettre en place plus efficace, pour un contrôle plus approprié, plus adéquat des flux migratoires.


Je tiens à souligner une chose: dans tous ces pays, et dans le cas du Maroc surtout, il ne s'agit pas seulement de pays de transit parce que chaque pays africain est en train de devenir à la fois pays d'origine, pays de transit et pays de destination. Nous partageons l'intérêt commun de gérer les flux de façon transparente, régulière, humaine et soutenable; nous avons cette approche de partenariat qui est complètement nouvelle par rapport à il y a quelques années.


Je ne vais pas vous cacher le fait que sur d'autres questions relatives à la migration, les Etats membres de l'Union européenne ont des points de vue différents, notamment sur la question de Dublin, sur la question intérieure, mais sur l'aspect du partenariat en particulier avec l'Afrique, j'ai vu une pleine convergence et unanimité entre les Etats membres sur la nécessité de continuer le bon travail que nous avons fait pour l'instant avec les Nations Unies et l'Union Africaine.


Could you explain the procedure of the new sanctions regime on chemical weapons adopted today: is the procedure the same as for other sanctions, meaning the Foreign Affairs Council makes the final decision or are there any differences? Did Ministers discussed any possible names to put on that list, because we know that it was a kind of response to the poisoning of [Sergei] Skripal in Salisbury? On the sanctions regime on possible cyber-attacks that some countries are pushing for: did you discussed the possibility of that new sanctions regime today?


I am sure you will have access to not only the text on what we adopted regarding the new sanctions regime on chemical weapons, but I am also sure that we will be more than happy to provide technical briefings on the practical functionality of the mechanism. I want to stress two points. One is that this decision we have taken today will now enable the European Union to impose sanctions both on persons and entities involved in the development and use of chemical weapons anywhere, regardless of their nationality and location. It is a legal framework we have adopted that opens the possibility for us to adopt sanctions on whichever person or entity has been involved in the development or use of chemical weapons wherever. This is obviously relevant wherever, which means both inside the European Union territory and in conflict areas and in other parts of the world.


This is a consistent element of our work over the years on the prevention of the use of chemical weapons. I have to say that I have had the opportunity to work very closely with the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] in these years and our support to the organisation has been more than 100 percent with both the previous and the current leadership. Now, we also have a full European Union representation in the Hague following this work. We have definitely increased our work and daily coordination and cooperation on this important part of our security investment.


We intend to do reflections together on how to step up our common work to counter cyber activities as well. This has been flagged around the table today and it is under discussion in the European Union how to increase our response to cyber activities that bring a threat or an attempt to European security.


Link to the Q&A: