Strasbourg, 13 March 2018
Check against delivery!
Thank you Mr President.
For months and years now, we have been working as European Union to avoid nightmare scenario of a nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula. You know that we have – let us say - gain some experience in work on nuclear negotiations. But since the Winter Olympics, the news coming from the Far East has given us some hope.
The situation in the Korean Peninsula could turn from a potential catastrophe, into a demonstration of the power of multilateral diplomacy. And let me add, wise leadership; I especially want to thank and recognise the efforts that the President of the Republic of Korea, President Moon [Jae-in], has exercised over these months.
Last week, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK] communicated - through the voice of the South Korean special envoys - its willingness to enter into negotiations on denuclearisation. Reportedly, North Korea would refrain from testing nuclear weapons or missiles during these negotiations. If these announcements were to be confirmed, they could create the necessary conditions towards a negotiated solution.
The Summit meeting between President Moon and Kim Jong-un in April could start to build the necessary trust, de-escalate tensions and improve the inter-Korean relations.
President Trump's potential readiness to accept the invitation to a Summit by May represents another possible element of a breakthrough towards a diplomatic solution.
The unity of the international community will be an essential factor to determine whether we collectively succeed or fail.
We Europeans, the European Union and the Member States, are ready to do our part, as we always did. Our policy of "critical engagement" with the DPRK is more valid than ever. We stand for maximum pressure and dialogue. Both are necessary to avert the danger of war. We have always stressed the need to come to a full, irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula through diplomatic means.
The European Union's sanction regime on DPRK is currently the most restrictive towards any country in the world. We implemented all the UN Security Council Resolutions on the DPRK, and we adopted additional autonomous measures.
We also worked with third countries to help enforce the full implementation of all Resolutions. We will continue this approach and shortly we will launch a new outreach to third countries. We will maintain in this way the direct and indirect pressure on DPRK.
But we have always believed that sanctions are a tool, not a goal in themselves. Our objective is, has always been and remains to help open the political path for a peaceful, negotiated solution of the North Korean nuclear issue. This is why we encourage and support these new high-level diplomatic initiatives.
I would like again to praise the leadership and courage shown by the Republic of Korea, President Moon and the entire government.
I am happy and proud to say that next Monday in Brussels, I will welcome the Korean Foreign Minister [Kang Kyung-wha] to our Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the way forward and how the European Union can continue to support their work, to accompany these efforts as we have constantly done during these months in an even more effective manner.
Our goal is the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. I believe that this is a goal that we can achieve with wisdom, unity and the determination that I think we have shown together with our partners internationally in these months.
Thank you Mr President.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I152464