Check Against Delivery!
First of all let me thank the German Presidency of the G7 for the excellent meeting we've had in this wonderful setting and with such a rich and complex agenda. We've touched upon all the major crises we have on the international scene. Noticing that most, if not all of them are concentrated around the European Union, so there is a specific role and responsibility for us Europeans to play.
Let me say that the main message we had yesterday and today in our discussions was that of the need for unity, being united and coordinated in facing all the crises we're having in front of us, starting from the one in Ukraine, where I would like again to praise the role of Germany and France for the efforts they are making in the implementation and the follow up of the Minsk agreements. Going to Syria and Iraq, Yemen, Libya, those are issues that we have discussed a lot, also in relation to our action against terrorism and on migration, Boko Haram, the work in Sahel and Yemen.
And let me finish by saying that we expressed very warm and united support for the negotiations we are carrying on with Iran on the nuclear programme, with the strong message coming from all to continue to finalise the agreement on the basis of the political understanding we reached in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago, by the end of June. This would first of all be an extremely important element for the security of us all, a very important non-proliferation element but also would be important for the regional framework. The Middle East is facing already so many crises that having some positive development would definitely be extremely important for all of us.
Obviously in all this the European Union is called upon to play a role, which also implies the unity of the European Union and I will, together with the European friends who were present here today, bring part of the discussions to Monday's Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, where we will discuss, among other things Yemen, Libya - and I will put on the table of the Ministers different options for European Union's support to a national unity government, which we hope can come out of the talks that Bernardino León and the UN are leading in these very same days in Morocco.
Thank you very much!
On Ukraine/Russia from La Repubblica. In a statement and in an interview to Die Welt, Mr Steinmeier stressed that he can see the detriment to the West interest to have a long term isolation of Russia, and that is your point of view too. In the G-7 group and generally in the NATO context sometimes you also may have other music, so you've stressed the need for unity but don't you see the risk of diverging between hard liners and less on Russia?
No, I know that splits and divergences make the headlines more than unity and I understand your work, but the fact is that over the last year and something when we had to face very difficult situation in our relations with Russia, we've always managed to keep unity, to build unity both on the pressure we have exercised on Russia and on the search for dialogue and for political solution to the crisis within the European Union and between the European Union and its major partners in the G7, mainly with the United States, with Canada, with Japan. We are on the same line: the international principles, the international rules have to be respected and restored; we are investing very much in the success of reforms inside Ukraine and we are strongly believing in the way of the political solution and on dialogue. This is obviously in the interest of all the players that we have gathered here today and it is clearly in the interest of the European Union to solve the crisis in Ukraine, but at the same time it's not in the interest of everyone around the table today and for sure in the European Union to isolate Russia, we've always said, not only Minister Steinmeier, not only myself, but all of us that it would be good to have at a certain point Russia going back to play a responsible role in the international scene as it is doing in other dossiers. I've just mentioned the Iran negotiations where Russia has played a constructive role, the same can be said for the Middle East Peace Process, another issue we discussed today and we worked together with Russia, not only the European Union, but also the United States and others, in the UN framework on many other different challenges and crisis, from counterterrorism to other things. The point is that we want to see the Ukrainian crisis solved and international law restored, but there is no objective to isolate Russia, this is not the goal to isolate Russia at all, and we are all looking forward to Russia coming back to be a responsible player in the international scene, obviously the decision to do to is in the hands of Russia.
On Yemen and Libya by Al Arabiya: Does the EU consider President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi still the legitimate President of Yemen, and then if so, then he may deserve the EU support, political support or more than political support?And on Libya, can you tell us that if it is possible that on Monday among the element you will present to the Ministers, do you intend to present some security component in these element to support a possible Unity Government in Libya?
Thank you. On Yemen, as I said, I just decided to put the issue on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday. We will have a discussion with the Ministers. You know very well the European Union position, it has not changed - we believe that we need to find ways of having a political solution to the situation in Yemen. This is very much in line with the position of our other international partners and I am closely in contact with the actors of the region and with the UN to try and see what kind of steps can be made - we discussed that today with the G7 - in order to re-start a political process that can bring to a real solution to the country and to the conflict within the country.
When it comes to Libya, I will not anticipate the details of the measures that I will put on the table of the Ministers, but I can tell you already that yes, there is a component of CSDP - as we say in the European Union - which means security and defence component to that. This means that we are ready, as Europeans, to do our part if and when a National Unity Government will be formed. And if and when this National Unity Government will ask for support from the international community and from the European Union, in a framework of strong coordination with the UN, always, that is going on these days and years and months very closely, and obviously in connection with our Arab friends and partners. I discussed this directly with most of the Ministers of the region in Barcelona on Monday: from Egypt to Algeria to Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, with the Ministers of the Gulf. It is very clear that the situation in Libya is an issue first of all in the hands of the Libyans and I hope that they can get the opportunity of the talks that are re-starting in these days, to unite against the threat of Da'esh and terrorist organisations in their country. Libya is a rich country, potentially. Libyan people deserve a better life and an end to the suffering they are experiencing for too long. And I am convinced that the Libyans are ready and can be ready to take responsibility for the future of their own country. In that moment, I want them to know that the European Union, and the other actors of the region will be ready to support and accompany them in rebuilding the country.
On Iran and Migrations by AP: Could we have your assessment please of the deal between US administration and Congress, on what it might mean for the Iran negotiations that you have been involved in. Secondly, on the sinking of a boat carrying 400 or more refugees in the Mediterranean, is it time to switch, move away from the very heavy emphasis on policing the Mediterranean and focus more on the rescue now.
On Iran, let me say that negotiations in Switzerland were difficult but helped by the fact that all the actors around the table were deeply committed to find an agreement and a good agreement. And I am convinced that in these weeks we have in front of us before we get to the final text of the agreement and the final consensus on the agreement, we will have to make sure that we do, one on hand, a good job in working on the details - and we know that every single detail is also very much political. That is why our staff, our political directors are restarting the work next week already, with the European Union leading role in restarting the negotiations. We want to move forward quickly. And on the other hand, to create the political conditions in the key countries that are part of the negotiations but also in the region to allow a political consensus about this agreement. I am confident that this would be the case both in the United States and in other countries. I was pleased by the welcoming that Minister Zarif and his team received going back to Teheran after the end of the negotiations. I think that we will also need, as Europeans in particular and me personally, to invest a lot in explaining that this agreement is aimed at the security of the whole region because it is a way of making sure that Iran cannot and will not develop a nuclear weapon. This is in the interest of Iran as well. And we have an historical opportunity to not only work for once on a non-proliferation measure, but also to open up the country to normal relations with the rest of the world, open up to trade and investment, with positive developments also I believe for the younger generations in Iran that were the ones that were demonstrating the most in the streets of Teheran when Minister Zarif was going back. And I am confident that the US, not only the US leadership that is very much committed, but also the US Congress, will understand that this agreement is an agreement in the interest of the security of everybody in the region and worldwide also because it can set the precedent for good non-proliferation agreements and deals also in other parts of the world.
About the second question, there are different levels of action we have to take when it comes to migration and the flow of refugees across the Mediterranean. The one that is more directly related to my work and to the work of the Foreign Ministers is obviously the mid and long term action we need to take. Because if you look at the numbers of the refugees and of the migrants, they are mostly coming from Syria, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. And this tells you that we have to solve crises and wars that last for too long and that are the root cause of the people deciding to risk everything and travel, in most cases with very difficult human conditions. Then you look at the second data which is the majority of the flow goes through Libya, which means that the other job we have to do is trying to solve the Libyan crisis in order to make sure that we have the capacity to control the flow of migrants and immigrants and in particular the criminal organisations that are trafficking in human beings. This is true for Libya and this is true also for all the ways that go to Libya. And this is what we are already doing as Foreign Ministers in the European Union: we are increasing the level of cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, in full respect of human rights, but this is what we need to do. Then there is the most immediate action we need to take, this is less in the hands of the foreign policy actors, so it is not my direct responsibility but I have been working in these months with Commissioner Avramopoulos, with Vice-President Timmermans to have a new approach of the European Union to migration policies. There are instruments that European Union has and that can be used more and better, thinking of Dublin Agreement that could be applied in a more complete way for sharing responsibilities. Germany for instance is a country that is hosting a large number of refugees, together with Sweden, maybe this is something that can be shared more with Member States. There are countries like Italy or Malta or some of the Southern countries of Europe that are receiving more migrants and maybe this is also something that through a more complete application of Dublin Agreement can be shared more. So we need more solidarity in Europe. And for sure we also have to be more effective in managing our borders. And obviously this is a responsibility of Member States. But we cannot pretend that it is only and purely a responsibility of Member States. It is also responsibility of the European Union as such and on this also we are working to make sure that we strengthen at the same time the need to save lives - I think this is a human need - to make sure that people don't die at sea and to secure our borders in a more effective way. But you cannot solve the issue only on one level of the actions. And you need to look at all the different layers of measures you have to implement, not only at the national levels but also at European level. As we discussed it here today, with our G7 partners, at an international level. At the end of the day, this is not an issue for one or 28 states, it is a global issue that we cannot pretend not to see. Thank you very much, good bye.
Link to the Video: