6 February 2017, Brussels – Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini upon arrival at the Foreign Affairs Council
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We will have today, as always, a very intense Foreign Affairs Council.
We will start with the situation in Ukraine that, as you have seen, has deteriorated significantly in the last days. I talked about that with Minister [of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey] Lavrov on Friday – I called him – and yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine [for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Ivanna Klympush].
We will address with the ministers, first of all, the need for de-escalation of violence in the east, also our continued non-recognition policy of the annexation of Crimea, and also our continued support to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, the Normandy format, the work of the OSCE – as Austria is taking the Chairmanship-in-office, but also our continued support to the reform agenda of the country because we want to invest in social and economic developments that can benefit all Ukrainians. We know that this is a very important part of our work.
We will also have a full point of discussion on Libya looking beyond migration, our support to the political process there. I will report to the ministers about my meeting with the Prime Minister [of the Government of National Accord of Libya and Chairman of the Presidency Council, Fayez al-] Serraj last week, on our ongoing work especially in support of the regional efforts to try and bring the country together, strengthen the Government of National Accord, working with the Arab League, the African Union, and the UN, to try and make sure that Libya finds its own way.
Then we will also have a point on Egypt. Obviously it is a country with whom we work on all different regional files, starting with Libya but also the Middle East Peace Process and others, as well also our bilateral relations.
We will also have another point on the Middle East Peace Process. As you know, the relations between Israel and Palestine and our work on the Middle East Peace Process – especially within the Quartet – continues to be a very high point on our agenda. By the way, I will also be discussing this later this week in Washington. And our work will continue to try and build viable options for two States.
I will also take the opportunity today to update ministers on the work we have done in the last couple of weeks on the Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. We have seen encouraging developments finally in Mitrovica and I will take the opportunity of this meeting today to report to ministers of the developments on the dialogue.
Q. On migration: Libya and [EUNAVFOR Med ] Operation Sophia.
What we are seeing is that since last year we saved at sea I think more than 32,000 people, only with [EUNAVFOR Med ] Operation Sophia. But we also have seen that 4500 people have died in Libyan waters. And we have to do something about that – the Libyans have to do something about that, Europeans have to do something about that. We believe that the international community together has to do something about that and you cannot just close your eyes, because people are continuing to die, regardless that our efforts in the international waters are paying off in terms of results. We do not operate in Libyan waters, as you know.
We are trying to increase also the work in the desert, because we continue to face a tragic loss of life in the desert. Not seeing this happening, we believe, is irresponsible. So what we are trying to do is strengthening the Libyan capacities to save lives, to protect people, including the people who are currently in Libya, living in camps in awful conditions and bringing the IOM [International Organisation for Migration] and the UNHCR [UN Refugee Agency] to work inside Libya to improve the conditions. We believe this is a responsibility towards human beings who are living in terrible conditions in this moment.
So it is a way of strengthening the capacities of the Libyans, including on human rights, to manage a situation that is very complicated and difficult for us – imagine for a country that is coming out of such a long crisis – and giving the Libyans instruments to exercise their sovereignty on their country, including, as I said on this, for us, human rights’ priority.
Q. What plan do you have regarding the Iraqi situation?
That is not on the agenda today.
Q. On Ukraine: can we see a link between what is happening there and the change of the US administration?
It is not for me to speculate on that. What is clear is that from the European Union, the clarity we have: on the illegal annexation of Crimea which we will continue not to recognise; and the need to fully implement the Minsk agreements, starting from a ceasefire and restoring calm or bringing calm to the east of Ukraine, is a must.
The European Union will reaffirm, I believe, today this strong position and will work with all partners, including in the Normandy format that incudes also Ukraine and Russia to find a way to solve the conflict. I cannot say where the US administration stands on that but I can say where the Europeans stand on this. Thank you.
Q. When will a decision be taken on the finalisation of the decision on visa-free travel for the citizens of Georgia?
This is also not on the agenda but as you know very well, I really hope that we can finalise this issue as soon as possible, not only for Georgia but also for Ukraine. Thank you, I will see you later.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I133210
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