Press Releases Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich)

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich)

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich)

Bucharest, 01/02/2019 – 13:54, UNIQUE ID: 190201_8

I would like first and foremost to thank Teodor [Meleșcanu, Foreign Affairs Minister of Romania] for the great cooperation that we have had in preparing and also managing this ministerial meeting. We even managed to finish on time, which as you can understand is quite remarkable. Let me say a few words to you – before I give him [Teodor Meleșcanu] the floor –  on the main points that the Ministers have discussed over these two days.

Yesterday we started with a very important conversation on the Eastern Partnership, you know that the European Union has a special partnership with six European countries in the East. This year is going to be the 10th Anniversary of this partnership and together with the Romanian Presidency we intend to celebrate together these 10 years, looking forward with our partners. That will happen in May.

I shared with you already yesterday the discussions we had yesterday afternoon on Venezuela and the conclusions we have drawn with the Ministers. I can update you on the fact that then during the evening and during the night contacts continued at my level with some of our friends in Latin America, so the preparation for the ministerial meeting of the international contact group are advancing and I am hopeful that we will manage to have a formal communication about that in the coming hours.

Yesterday evening already we were joined by our colleagues, our friends, the Foreign Ministers of the candidate countries, for a social dinner at which we were honoured to be joined by the Prime Minister of Romania [Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă]. And today we had together with them and also separately – among us, the 28 [Member States] – a discussion on our relations with China: a strategic partner for the European Union and definitely an important country in terms of economic power, in terms of trade relations, in terms of its global role, which opens both some opportunities for us that we are ready to best explore together, in a manner that is coordinated as much as possible, but also some challenges, when it comes to some policies that are definitely different from our side and from theirs. I can mention our policy on human rights that is clearly different when it comes to Europe and China.

In these last years we have increased in particular our cooperation and our partnership with China on global issues. I could mention our common work on climate change, our common work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and other issues. In this mixed picture of challenges and opportunities, this has been a very important occasion for the Member States to exchange, first of all, information, to coordinate approaches and to share information and coordinate approaches also with our candidate countries, which is extremely important, because each of them also has important relations with China in different fields.

I would say that the main outcome – informal, as you know – of today’s exchanges has been the strengthened will to coordinate more our positions and to exchange more information among us. And I have proposed to the Ministers that we come back to our relations with China at one of the next Foreign Affairs Councils in Brussels, ahead of our annual Summit with China that this year will be in April.

If I can add two last things. We did not have time yesterday to address one point that was foreseen on the agenda: Syria. We will do it at the next Foreign Affairs Council, in mid-February – so a couple of weeks from now. I can still take this opportunity to share with you the news that we have convened the ‘Third Brussels Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region’, which will take place from 12 to 14 March 2019 in Brussels. I will be happy to share more about the preparations and the concept for that in the coming weeks. We have already had exchanges with the new UN Special Envoy for Syria [Geir Pedersen] on how to use this conference not only for a humanitarian pledge that we want to keep as high as possible on the international and European agenda, but also for defining how we can support a political transition in Syria and the UN role in this respect.

Last but not least, I want to close with good news that we did not discuss with the Ministers, but still I think it is good to end this excellent meeting we had with the Ministers with something to celebrate: today, we have the entry into force of the largest ever free trade area. The [trade] agreement between the European Union and  Japan enters into force today together also with our [EU-Japan] Strategic Partnership Agreement. So this is good news that I wanted to share with you.

Teodor [Meleșcanu], once again, thank you very much for the hospitality and the excellent cooperation.

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