MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement
Headline: Remarks by the High-Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the Foreign Affairs
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Le conseil a commencé ce matin à midi avec une minute de silence pour honorer la mémoire des victimes de l’attaque de Nice. Ce n’était pas seulement un moment de commémoration, nous savons très bien que notre responsabilité n’est pas uniquement celle de faire des minutes de silence – qui sont tout de même importantes pour montrer l’unité et la solidarité avec le peuple et les autorités françaises en ces moments difficiles pour toute l’Europe – mais notre rôle est surtout de donner des réponses efficaces.
Alors aujourd’hui, nous avons eu un long échange avec tous les ministres où tous les Etats membres ont exprimé leur solidarité et disponibilité pour continuer à soutenir la France, notamment sur la base de l’article 42.7 que la France avait évoqué, il y a quelques mois, en Novembre. Tous les Etats membres ont confirmé leur disponibilité à travailler encore plus pour soutenir le travail de la France pour la sécurité de son pays mais aussi de l’Europe. Et tout le monde a convenu que l’unité européenne et avec nos partenaires, dans la Méditerranée, dans la communauté internationale, mais aussi en Afrique est la plus grande force que nous avons contre le terrorisme.
I’ll switch to English to say that we also discussed work that we have done in the European Union, on the external action of the European Union, in the last months to reinforce our counter-terrorism cooperation and work – and by the way, in a few minutes we will have the chance to continuing this partnership and conversation with the Ministers of the Gulf, of the GCC countries, so that will also be one point that we will discuss with them.
In the last months we have deployed counter-terrorist and security experts in 11 EU Delegations in many countries in the Arab world, but also in Africa and Asia, and we are further working to expand our counter-terrorism cooperation, for example in the Western Balkans and in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, but also in Nigeria, where we know very well that we have to work together with the French and other Member States to defeat the threat of Boko Haram.
It seems something not connected directly with the attack in Nice, but all Ministers agreed on the fact that it is an overall work that we need to do to eradicate the roots of the hatred that we have seen so many times, hitting not only in Nice most recently, but also in other parts of the world – from Dhaka to Baghdad, to other places, in Europe, in Africa, in the Arab world, and in Asia. So it is a common threat to all of us and it is a common approach that we have taken. We will have the occasion to continue to work on that, specifically on the anti-Da’esh Coalition in our ministerial meeting in Washington later this week on Thursday. Those of you that were present this morning with US Secretary John Kerry might have heard already our words on that.
The Council continued with our decisions on Turkey. You might have seen already the Council conclusions we adopted. I will not spend too much time on this, as you heard already my remarks this morning and you might have read already the Council conclusions that indicate the unity of the 28 Member States in condemning the attempted coup in Turkey and also reiterating that we expect and call for the full observance of Turkey’s constitutional order, but stressing the importance of the rule of law prevailing in the country. I am particularly sad about the news that are coming from Turkey in these hours that are showing a sense of gravity and danger for the all stability of the country.
The Council went on to discuss three other issues that I can briefly share with you. We had a discussion with the Foreign Ministers on the Global Strategy that I presented to the European Council at the end of June. We had a first round of impressions on the follow up of the Strategy, where we agreed to work on specific follow up on different sectors, such as security and defence, where I will obviously also involve the defence ministers in September, but also in other fields like our policy coherence or our civilian policies, and in that respect I will also involve the development ministers. So we agreed today that I will present in the coming months a clear framework with timetables and proposals for starting implementation of the Global Strategy already in September, that is at the end of the day related to plenty of issues we discuss currently in the Council: from counter-terrorism to migration and crisis management.
We also had a discussion on China, just a few days after the EU-China Summit; I was in Beijing with the Presidents last week. We adopted Council Conclusions, which means that we adopted the first EU-China strategy in ten years – ten years in which China, the EU and the world have changed dramatically. You might already have had the chance to look at the Council Conclusions and I would be ready to answer any of your questions.
We had a point on Latin America. I know very well that in the situation we are facing these days, within and around the European Union, it seems strange to focus our work on Latin America and namely on Venezuela but also on Colombia and on Cuba. Still, let me say that it is very important that the Foreign Affairs Council keeps on its agenda also the positive news that we have from some of these countries, and Latin America is indeed one of the continents where we have had one of the largest engagements recently and good results.
In particular, obviously, the focus was on the way forward with Cuba but also with Venezuela, where we fully support the work of the three facilitators and we will continue to do so with even more unity. We reaffirmed our support to the Colombian peace process.
Last but not least, we concluded with good news that is coming from the Balkans this morning in Sarajevo: the adaptation protocol for the SAA has been initialled. So, clear progress has been made – something we welcomed in the Council. We are looking forward to continue working with Bosnia and Herzegovina on its way towards European Union membership, as it has presented its application some months ago.
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Q. On Venezuela – whether the former Prime Minister of Spain Zapatero would be nominated the EU Envoy for Venezuela as reported in the media.
You know it is a bit surreal to comment on this as this is based on news that the Spanish media reported, but were never discussed officially. So these are expectations that were raised not on the institutional level, not on the political level, but on the media level. It is difficult to comment in this respect. I don’t know what the media in Spain expect to be the outcome of today’s discussion, but that was not what we had prepared politically.
It is true that in the discussion we had on our support to the mediation process in Venezuela, a number of ministers suggested to have not a EU Special Representative, but a Special Envoy. So institutionally it is something different. It is the model I have with Colombia, where I have a Special Envoy in the person of Eamon Gilmore who is doing a wonderful job and some ministers suggested again to have a Special Envoy, my Special Envoy to Venezuela, and that to be the former Prime Minister of Spain [José Luis Rodríguez] Zapatero.
I said that I would consider this. I would explore first of all with the parties and with UNASUR as he is already one of three mediators. We do not want obviously to interfere in the ongoing mediation so it is something that I would be again glad to consider, provided that this is something agreed with the ongoing mediation process that we want to support in all possible ways. So if that is something that it is considered useful to have for sure this is something that I am more than ready to consider. Also because I met with Zapatero and I was in contact with him in the last weeks constantly to work on the EU support to the mediation that is taking place, so in practical terms this is a contact that has been already working for some time.
Q. On Turkey – is still Turkey a safe country after thousands of arrests?
The discussion whether Turkey is or not a safe country anymore is not a discussion we had today. In this moment, all our efforts are to accompany Turkey in a difficult moment. I have to say we had a very open, long and in-depth discussion with the Ministers and I would like to make it clear: we still consider Turkey as a partner, as it is clearly stated in our conclusions and it is with a friendly attitude that we follow what is happening in the country in this moment.
A friendly attitude towards, first of all, the people of Turkey. So our first concern at this moment is to try and facilitate – or “push”, as you said – for a situation that is at this moment particularly worrying to go back to normal and to order and to peace and to respect of rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms as soon as possible. This is our immediate concern, because the numbers we are seeing in terms of arrests, but also in terms of victims – including the last news we have received just a few moments ago from Istanbul – is something that worries us in the immediate term. There might be a need for more strategic and comprehensive reflections on the future of our relationship, but that will come later. In these moments what worries us the most and that we shared with US Secretary of State John Kerry this morning is that the situation stabilises as soon as possible.
Q. On Turkey – what the EU can do in terms of diplomatic pressure to push Turkey in the right direction?
At this moment what we are doing is coordinating positions with our other friends and allies, starting from the United States. We are in contact with the Turkish authorities, I was personally in contact with the Foreign Minister, and keeping the European unity as we have done since the most dramatic hours of the attempted coup to send coordinated and unequivocal messages to the country, to its leadership, and to its institutions.
And, as I would like to repeat once again, the democratic or legitimate institutions of the country is not only the President, it is not only the Government, it is also the Parliament and local authorities. There is a system of institutions in Turkey that has responsibilities now to exercise and we are observing the political dynamics and debate that is starting in the country that we fully respect and accompany somehow. And this is what we are considering for the moment, but it is obviously a situation that is developing by the hour and we agreed with the 28 Ministers that we will continue to – as in journalistic terms you would say – “closely follow” the events by the hour and continuing to stay connected among us and with the Turkish institutions constantly.
Q. On Turkey – the EU could have frozen the current negotiations on the Turkey’s EU membership process. Why this has not been decided in the context of the gravity of the current developments?
This was never raised by the Member States or by the Commissioner [Johannes Hahn]. We have obviously, as you might have noticed this morning, expressed the need for Turkey to abide to the basic principles at the core of acquis of the Union. If you are candidate country, your aspiration is the highest standards in the terms of human rights, rule of law and fundamental freedoms, including the system of checks and balances and division of powers. This is something that I have constantly and consistently repeated since last year and a little bit before and this has always been our position – it is up to Turkey to consider if being a candidate country is still what falls into their own desires and aspirations, and take consistent decisions in that respect. This is something that will be discussed further in the Council – as you know probably, the Council that deals with enlargement negotiations is not the Foreign Affairs Council, so your question surprises me a bit. The enlargement process is dealt by another formation of the Council which is the General Affairs Council. It might come to the Council in the future, it might come to a discussion we can have with Commissioner Hahn in the future, but it was not on the agenda for today and it would not have been appropriate to have it for today.
Q. En lien avec les déclarations M. Hahn de ce matin. Il a déclaré et a fait aussi sous-entendre que des listes de purges étaient prêtes et que dans le fond le gouvernement Turque n’attendait que le moment pour appuyer sur le bouton pour faire ces purges très concrètement. Que dites-vous de ses déclarations?
I do not have specific information about that and I do not have anything to comment on this. But I think I have been clear enough not only today but also in the previous months and year about the fact that certain kind of behaviour, especially from a candidate country, is not acceptable.
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