Check against delivery!
It is good to have this meeting in person with the colleagues of the most important democracies in the world. It has been a very fruitful and interesting debate, we have been covering all the issues in today’s world, the most important problems that we are facing. And I think that we need a coordinated and stronger answer from democracies to the problems coming from the Sahel, to the relations with China, with Russia, the problems in Ethiopia, Somalia. It has really been a total agenda about the world problems.
Q. Have there been any specific areas of progress today?
Well, in my case I had the opportunity to talk with my colleagues about the situation of the negotiations of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], the nuclear deal with Iran, exchanging with the Secretary of State [of the United States, Antony] Blinken on the situation of these negotiations, which are difficult but are going on. And from Friday, we will start a new round of these negotiations. Also, I had the opportunity to talk about the situation in Ethiopia, in Somalia, in the Horn of Africa, where the situation is gloomy, difficult, but we [have] hope. Libya is a good news; the cease-fire is still lasting and I think that we can be optimistic about the situation. So, you see, in general terms things are not going better, but there are some places, Iran can be one of them, Libya another, where we can have certain hope that things will improve.
Q. How important is it that you are all here in person? How much difference does that make to doing something on videoconference?
You know, on videoconferences you just read a paper, there is no interactivity, there is no body-to-body touch, there is no possibility of arranging bilaterals like the ones that we are going to have today immediately after [the meeting]. These kinds of meetings are important because we sit around the table but then we get up and we talk to each other bilaterally or in groups. This is the way you forge consensus. This is the way you forge agreements.
Q. Just yesterday the European Union said it is going to let more nations in if they have got a negative COVID-19 test for holidays, vacations over the summer. Some countries in the European Union are still under their own various lockdowns, is this too soon?
No. What we try to do is to work in a coordinated way to be taking into consideration the improvements that we have been doing on vaccinations. Everybody that can show to be vaccinated with a vaccine authorised by the European institutions can be granted free entrance. And also to balance better the threshold of the number of infections that are determined in order to take up a country in or out of the list, to be more flexible and to take into consideration the progress that we have been making -all of us, together- in the process of vaccination.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-205312