G7: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell upon arrival at the Ministerial meeting

EEAS Press Team

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Today, the G7 Foreign Affairs Ministers will discuss about the situation in Africa, in Iran and in Central Asia.

First, about Iran. I have been talking with the Foreign [Affairs] Minister of Iran [Hossein Amir-Abdollahian] and expressed the condemnation of the European Union for the crackdown of demonstrators following the killing of Mahsa Amini. The European Union has taken actions and approved sanctions, also for the issue of Iran delivering drones to be used in the war in Ukraine, which is a violation of the United Nations resolution.

We will continue supporting the demonstrators and we will continue supporting Ukraine to face the aerial attacks, and we insist on Iran to stop providing arms to Russia. Iran denies it, but the Ukrainians have been providing evidence of the use of drones.

On the JCPOA, the negotiations are at a stalemate. There is nothing new, but I think that we have to differentiate our strong support to the demonstrators and especially to the women - the courageous women in Iran – from the need to try to [avoid] Iran becoming a nuclear power. 

Africa remains our priority, our biggest priority, and we will have our African friends participating in this meeting. There are good news coming from Africa – from the Horn of Africa – where a Cessation of Hostilities in Ethiopia is putting an end to the fight. And I have to remember the tens of thousands of people who have been killed in this awful war, where the most awful abuses have been happening during the last two years.

The Cessation of Hostilities is the first step to build peace. But it is much more difficult to build peace than to make war. So, we have to support the African Union in order to – after the cessation of hostilities – reach an agreement that could allow Ethiopia to go back to peace and reconstruction.

In Africa, there are three poles of instability and war: the Sahel, the Great Lakes region, and the Horn of Africa. In these three parts of Africa, the war continues, terrorism is developing and [there is] political instability, together with the famine created by Russia blocking exports of grain from Ukraine. But at least, there is this good news, and we welcome what this agreement represents for the Ethiopian people.

Then, Central Asia. The countries in Central Asia are a pivot between Europe and Asia, and they are more and more important from a strategic point of view. They are looking to diversify their foreign policy. They are no longer Soviet republics. They are asking Russia to respect their independence, and we have to increase our relationship with them. 

In the next weeks, I will [travel to] in Samarkand [at] the Connectivity Conference between Central Asia and Europe. This will be a good occasion to reinforce our links, our partnership and to develop our strategic investment programme of the Global Europe, of the Global Gateway, which is our way of increasing our investments and engagement with this part of the world, which is becoming more and more important in the current circumstances.

Then, the Western Balkans. I was in Berlin yesterday, participating in the Western Balkans Summit to the Berlin Process, invited by [German] Chancelor [Olaf] Scholz. In the Western Balkans, there are two key words: resilience and reconciliation.

Resilience [is about] increasing their capacity – economic and political capacity - to face the challenges. We are supporting them. We are the biggest investors in the region. We support them also to fight disinformation and to face the cyberattacks and hybrid threats coming from Russia.

Reconciliation, to overcome the legacy of the past. On that, there is also a possibility on the Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. 

We have been working a lot on that with my Special Representative [for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue], Miroslav Lajčák. Before the summer, we presented the plan to both parties – to Serbia and Kosovo – in order to overcome the permanent crisis mood in which we have been working and look for a comprehensive normalisation of their relation. And I am very grateful for the support from Germany and France to this proposal.

We got answers from both parties. We are studying them. And I think this is a good occasion that has to be used in order to make the relationship between Pristina and Belgrade more – let’s say – normal, because, in order for both of them to advance in their European path, this normalisation of relations is very important. 

In the coming days, we will see which is their answer to this proposal, and I hope it will represent a breakthrough and a leap forward in this process. 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-232759 

Nabila Massrali
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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