Riga, 08/01/2015


Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press point with Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia

Permettez-moi de commencer en français premièrement pour exprimer toute notre solidarité, la mienne personnellement à la France,  aux français et aussi aux journalistes qui ont été si dramatiquement choqués, comme nous tous, par ce qui s'est passé hier à Paris. La liberté de presse est une valeur fondamentale de notre existence, de l'Europe. C'est le cœur de notre liberté de pensée, de notre vie en commun.

Je pense que, comme le Président Juncker l'a déjà dit tout à l'heure, l'Union européenne va rester unie pas seulement à l'intérieur mais à l'extérieur. La lutte contre le terrorisme est un défi non seulement politique mais aussi culturel que l'on partage avec nos partenaires un peu partout dans le monde, en commençant par les pays Arabes, les pays d'Afrique et de l'Asie parce que l'on est convaincu qu'il faut détacher complètement le mot "terrorisme" du mot "islam". Aucune religion ne peut être utilisée pour perpétrer des actes aussi cruels et inhumains. Je pense que ce défi culturel va être aussi  au cœur de notre activité en Europe.

Comme le ministre l'a dit, nous allons avoir une discussion avec les ministres des affaires étrangères au Conseil des affaires étrangères le 19 Janvier. Nous avons déjà discuté de cela avec nos collègues ministres de l'Intérieur, on nous allons continuer à lier notre action à l'extérieur avec celle qui se fait à l'intérieur de l'UE, et que les ministres des affaires intérieures et de la justice vont développer dans ces prochains jours.  Il n'y a pas de ligne de division interne-externe lorsqu'il s'agit de notre sécurité. Il y a un aspect extérieur et il y aussi un aspect intérieur du travail à faire et il faut  que les deux aspects soient bien cordonnés.

Now, I will switch to English. I would like to welcome, first of all, the Latvian Presidency. On a personal note, we were remembering the fact that we had a first trio presidency meeting when I was at the time Italian minister preparing the Italian-Latvian-Luxembourg presidency earlier last year. So, I have to say it comes very naturally to share the priorities of the presidency because we discussed that several times in different capacities.

Coming to the formal and institutional note, I have to say that the priorities of the presidency in the field of foreign and security policy but also of trade and development are completely in line with the priorities that we have to face in these first six months, be it inside the Council or inside the Commission. I am sure the European Parliament will also endorse our priorities.

I would like to underline what the minister has just said about the importance of re-launching the work on PNR. I would like to underline the big opportunity we have with the Latvian Presidency on many issues that the minister mentioned and that I would not repeat because I share completely what he said, but in particular on the neighbourhood: on the Southern neighbourhood, because, as  many of you might have already heard from me, the European Union has to deal equally with the Eastern Partnership and with the Southern Partnership - the Southern Neighbourhood,  and I would add the North - the Nordic dimension, the Arctic.

This is an excellent opportunity to show that a Nordic, Eastern country that holds the Presidency can deal very well also with the Southern Neighbourhood that we have and that is very much troubled in these days. But at the same time, the Latvian Presidency is excellent opportunity to face the Ukrainian crisis. This situation of Ukraine is particularly complicated, not only for the conflict in the East, but also for the need to implement reforms internally. And from the financial point of view, I think the announcement that President Juncker just made of our financial support is going to be crucial, and I welcome very much the visit that you will pay already tomorrow in Kyiv. I think it will be an excellent first visit of your Presidency to pass a message of solidarity, of support, of readiness from the European Union side to support the reform process and to support the dialogue efforts that the Ukrainian leadership and in particular President Poroshenko are trying to pursue with the Minsk process.

At the same time, as you mentioned very rightly, I believe, we need to work on a dialogue, political dialogue with Moscow, as the Ukrainians are doing, and they need our support in that as well. So, I believe that your visit to Moscow will be crucial, especially because it comes at the time where discussions and talks about the implementation of the Minsk agreement are going on. And I am particularly happy of the fact that you will be able to report back to the Foreign Affairs Council just after coming back from Moscow, where - some of you that are based in Brussels would know - we will have a discussion, a main discussion on the EU-Russian relations.

It will be a Council that will concentrate, firstly I imagine, on this. Obviously, now the issue of our strategy on terrorism will also take a major place on the agenda, but I would say that these would be the two elements of main strategic discussion we will have in just a little bit more than one week. And your visit to Moscow, Edgars, will be made for all of us, to try and understand in this particular time: the real intentions, real possibilities, real difficulties I guess also, but also what the European Union can do to support the solution of the crisis in the East of Ukraine and ways for a dialogue that could support the Ukrainian efforts towards peace.

I would not touch on all the other issues that you mentioned, not because they are not important but because we share the views completely, we have discussed all of them today bilaterally, with the other Commissioners, with the other Ministers in a format that I think is extremely helpful and useful. We have more and more to work on this and I count on the Latvian Presidency to help us also to promote a mixed kind of Councils. One idea could be the organisation of an Interior and a Foreign Affairs Ministers Council soon as well as on other fields in which we will need to join up the different working areas much more.

Thank you for the excellent cooperation that was there already, in preparing the Presidency for this important start. This will be 6 intense months on the Foreign Policy and on the Security dimension. And I know I can count on you and on Latvia for being a strong, reliable, balanced partner to navigate in these next 6 months together. I thank you very much.