Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Brussels, 12 December 2022

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We are going to have a meeting with the Eastern Partnership [Foreign Ministers]. 

We have to rethink about how we work with Eastern partners, because three have become [EU accession] candidates, one is very far away from the European Union – Belarus. So, it is a very heterogenous set of countries. A regional approach to them has to be taken into consideration but, certainly, it is becoming more and more difficult. 

It is the first Ministerial meeting with Eastern partners since the beginning of the war in Ukraine so, certainly, we will talk a lot about it.

And then, comes the [Foreign Affairs] Council. This Council is going to be very long and difficult because we have on the agenda Iran, we have on the agenda sanctions against Russia – the ninth package. We are still not there. We have not yet finished.

You know, there is a certain confusion: when me [the High Representative] and the President of the [European] Commission announce the sanctions, we are just announcing proposals. I said [this] many times: it is the Council who decides. And the 27 Ministers [of Foreign Affairs of the European Union] have different approaches. 

So, since we made the announcement of the proposal – a proposal is not a decision – the proposal has been discussed and, I thought, this morning we were able to say “greenlighted”, it is still not the case. Maybe by the end of the day, but there are some questions to be still agreed [upon]. I hope we will end the day [with an agreement] – or maybe tomorrow – but I cannot say that it is going to be easy because there are different views among Member States. 

[It is] important to make the distinction between proposal and decision: decisions belong to the Council.

Iran, certainly Iran, second execution [in relation to protests]. On Friday evening, I had a long conversation with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran [Hossein Amir-Abdollahian].  You can imagine, certainly we talked about these executions. I expressed the concern of the European Union, the condemnation and the sanctions that are going to be taken today, both for humanitarian reasons and for the Iranian support to [Russia’s aggression against] Ukraine. Iran continues saying that they have not been delivering drones to Russia after the start of the war, and they do not plan to send rockets to Russia. Let’s see.

Then, the last news also worrisome is Kosovo. We thought that things were calm after the agreement but, once again, the Kosovo-Serbs answered to the arrest of a former Kosovo-Serb policeman with a lot of troubles in the streets, blocking the roads, and even throwing stun grenades to some of our [EULEX] police officers. You can understand this is not acceptable.

I know that the two parts are willing to de-escalate, and I am strongly calling on the two of them to do it. But, in this case, I was in touch with Prime Minister [of Kosovo, Albin] Kurti, [European Union Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue] Miroslav Lajčák was in touch with President [of Serbia, Aleksandar] Vučić in Serbia. This alteration of the public order, this violence are not affordable. 

They have to go back to the [EU-facilitated] Dialogue. They have to overcome this tendency of fighting in the street, of creating blockades. It is not the way of looking for an agreement. It is not the way to conduct the talks. It is not the way to look for solutions. It is not the way to look for the normalisation process in which they are engaged. 

Q&A

Q. You will meet with the Georgian Minister [for Foreign Affairs, Ilia Darchiashvili] today. What is your main message to the country that is waiting for candidate status to be received as Ukraine? 

We will talk about it, certainly.

Q. High Representative, we saw a tweet of Commissioner Oliver Várhelyi that [says] that €17 billion euros will be announced on Eastern Partnership programmes – like railway, electricity infrastructure. So, can we expect this announcement today, of this money? 

If Commissioner [for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver] Várhelyi has said [that], he has good reasons. It is one of the issues of the meeting, certainly.

Q. What can the EU do against Iran? And what should it do against Iran? 

We are going to approve a very, very tough package of sanctions. It was not easy. It was not an easy conversation with my colleague, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran [Hossein Amir-Abdollahian], because we talked about what was happening inside the country, the supply of arms to Russia, and these two people being executed. Iran has to understand that the European Union will condemn strongly and will take any action we can in order to support Iranian women, to support peaceful demonstrators and, certainly, reject this the death penalty. 

Q. Apparently, Qatar tries to influence, tries to buy Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). What does this mean for the relationship with Qatar and what should be the consequences? 

Look, as you said: “apparently”. I am not a judge, there is a process ongoing. Certainly, the news are very worrisome, very, very worrisome. We are facing some events, some facts that certainly worry me – as a former President of the European Parliament, also. There is nothing and no one being referred to neither from the [European] External Action Service (EEAS) nor from the Delegations [of the European Union]. We are not affected by that. There is police and judiciary actions. We have to follow these actions. We are very much, certainly, concerned about these news. But, I have to act according not only to the facts but to the proving evidence. I cannot go beyond the judiciary statements. I am sure you understand that these are very grave accusations. 

Thank you.  

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-234516  

Source – EEAS

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