Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council


Apologies for the delay, it has been a long Council. We discussed many different and important things. Let me say that it was also a very good Council, extremely constructive and representing very much united positions of the Member States on all the issues we discussed.  Let me start from Libya. We had a long discussion with Martin Kobler, the UN Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General. After the Libyan political dialogue meeting in Tunis, just a couple of days ago, we were deeply briefed by Kobler on the results and on the procedures of the Libyan political dialogue's work. We welcomed the results, especially like they were represented in a statement that they produced, in all their parts.

We see very clearly the need for Libya to have a Government of National Accord as soon as possible to be able to tackle both the security and the humanitarian situation of the country, but also the risk that, first of all for the Libyans, is in the absence of a government. We are ready as European Union, together with the rest of the international community, to encourage and support in all possible ways the Libyans work in this respect and we have also started our internal work to sanction individuals who are obstructing this internal Libyan process.  We had a very positive work session on Russia with the ministers, not focusing on sanctions for once, but on our bilateral common policy of EU-Russia relations. We will come back to the sanctions decisions in due time, either at the Foreign Affairs Council and/or at the European Council.

Let me stress that we had, among the 28, unanimity on five guiding principles of the European Union's policy towards Russia:

The first of these guiding principles is the full implementation of the Minsk agreements as a key element for any substantial change in our relations. By the way, this is an important week, it is the week where two years ago the illegal annexation of Crimea took place and we re-stated our common strong position of non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea.  The second principle is strengthening relations with our Eastern Partners and other neighbours, in particular in Central Asia, and we had very good discussions on how to proceed in this respect.  Third, strengthening internal European Union resilience, in particular in view of energy security, hybrid threats and strategic communication, but not only. Fourth principle we all agreed on is the need for selective engagement with Russia, both on foreign policy issues - this is clear, when it comes to Iran or the Middle East Peace Process or Syria, but also DPRK, migration or counter-terrorism, climate change - but also in other areas where there is a clear European Union's interest. The fifth of our guiding principles is the willingness to support more and more the Russian civil society and engage and invest in people-to-people contacts and exchanges and policies that are related to that, with a particular view to the youth of Russia and the youth of the European Union because we see the future of our countries as something we need to invest into.  This, as I said, was not a difficult discussion. We had a very much united discussion and I believe this is going to be extremely relevant for the follow-up of our work. Obviously we will follow this up and in particular the Commission will have in the coming months also discussion on that part of the work, which will be framed by the political decisions or conversations we had today with the Ministers. On Iran, I shared with the Ministers our plans. First of all I gave an assessment of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which is on good track. The IAEA also recently confirmed that Iran is sticking to its commitments. We exchanged and shared an assessment following the elections in Iran. That was a clear vote of confidence in President Rohani's agenda especially on economic reforms. And I shared with the Ministers plans and preparation of my visit  on the 16 April with a number of Commissioners, in particular Commissioner Cañete, for energy and Climate, Commissioner Moedas,  for research, Commissioner Vella for environment, Commissioner Bieńkowska, for enterprises, Commissioner Stylianides, for humanitarian affairs, Commissioner Navracsics, for education and Commissioner Bulc, for transport.

This outlines already the different elements and different issues we are going to cover in our dialogue with our Iranian counterparts. We will have political consultations, including consultations on human rights, but also dialogue and cooperation on trade and investment, on energy, including oil and gas, renewables and energy efficiency, and also civil nuclear cooperation that is something that comes out of the JCPOA as a natural field of engagement for the European Union. In the field of transport, it will cover in particular the work that we can commonly do on aviation safety. We also discussed about the need for a dedicated dialogue on migration with Iran, the fight against drugs, the field of research, education, science and environment and obviously the regional issues that are going to be always on our agenda with Iran. We also had a last point but not least - on the Middle East Peace Process. I updated the ministers on the state of play of the work of the Quartet in producing the report we agreed to do in Munich, during the meeting with the Principals - with US Security of State Kerry, Minister Lavrov, the UN Deputy Secretary General - and the synergies and coordination we are establishing with a French initiative that is taking shape in these days; our Special Envoys are in contact.

The French minister Jean-Marc Ayrault presented ideas and all Member States welcomed this approach of creating synergies and working together in support of the consolidated European position and in strong connection with the Quartet members and with the Arab interlocutors that are also those with whom we are working in the framework of the Quartet.

Let me also mention that I updated the Ministers on the external work on migration we have been doing in this month and that will be the basis also of my report to the European Council later this week. Thank you

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