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Riyadh – 27 July 2015
Check against delivery.
Thank you very much first of all for the invitation, and secondly but very importantly for hosting me here in Riyadh at a special time of the year. I am very grateful for this and I am sure that this is going to be the beginning of a very strong – also personal – cooperation. I would like to congratulate you for your beginning in office in very difficult times, but with very good results already.
I would also like to thank you for the warm welcome as well as the excellent and long exchange of views on all the main important issues we have in common between the European Union and Saudi Arabia, starting by the important bilateral relations that cover all fields of our public life, from the talks we had on visa issues, to security and counter-terrorism cooperation, energy and trade economic opportunities, people to people contacts. We have deep relations and we – on the European side – are willing to strengthen them even more.
We have also discussed the possibility of structuring our cooperation even more, on a bilateral level or through the GCC-EU cooperation, and the use of the idea we discussed at the last meeting of the EU-GCC Ministerial a couple of months ago of tackling issues of human rights through a separate working group in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
I have particularly appreciated our common visions on the Middle East Peace Process, where we in the European Union believe that the Saudi Arabia has a key role to play, in particular in reviving the Arab Peace Initiative that could be an important element of the way forward to restart the process that at the moment is not in place. We are very much aware in the European Union that the lack of process in itself is creating a vacuum that is extremely dangerous, in Gaza, in Jerusalem and in the West Bank. We have discussed the ways of cooperating together with other friends and partners in the region and in the international scene, such as the United States, the UN, Russia, other key Arab countries, to recreate the conditions for a Middle East Peace Process to bring concrete results on the ground and the creation of the Palestinian State on one side and on the other the right of Israel to live in security.
We have also shared common approach on the need to put an end to the too long-lasting war in Syria, with enormous dramatic humanitarian consequences and also security consequences for the entire region. When I say region I say the Gulf region but also the European region, because we share a part of the world that today is the most dangerous one in the world. And our common work to find finally the way for Syrian-led transition in Syria and effective fight against Da’esh I think is the top priority on both of our agendas
As it is, as the Minister very rightly said, it’s time to support the Iraqi reform agenda in a very concrete and operational way to make sure that the Sunni community – not only in Iraq, but also actually in all the Arab countries – is empowered so it can lead the fight against Da’esh, with a leading role and with full powers.
We have discussed Yemen, with the dramatic humanitarian situation and the need to find a political solution there and the situation in Libya where, hopefully, the first partial agreement that was reached a few days ago in Morocco, could be opened up to the support also from the one party out of the four that didn’t support it so far, so that Libya can start a new path. We have been working in the European Union to make sure that if and when Libya will face this new beginning, it will get all the European support on its way to stabitilisation and prosperity.
We have dedicated also significant part of our talks to the deal that we have reached with Iran in Vienna on the 14 July, that I have facilitated on behalf of the international community. That was a mandate originated by a UN Security Council resolution. Long negotiations. Twelve years, at the end 22 months, and many months and weeks and nights and days of hard work. And if that took so much time and so much hard work, that was exactly because we are all very much aware that we needed to have a strong solid agreement, leaving nothing to further interpretation or discussion but very detailed and ready for implementation.
As you know, tomorrow, I will be visiting Tehran, exactly to start work on the implementation of the agreement, as I will be – in my capacity as a High Representative of the European Union – coordinating the work of the joint commission that will supervise the implementation of the agreement.
So it is very important for me, personally, first to pass a message that the agreement is strong and solid. It’s first of all a nuclear non-proliferation agreement that will guarantee that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon for the next ten to fifteen years and with solid mechanisms of snapback of sanctions.
Having said that, we are very much aware of the concerns, of the worries of the countries of the region, also in Europe. We are quite close to the region as well, so we understand the concerns very well. And it is important for us to make sure that the agreement is not only a solid and robust one as it was and as it is, but also that it is implemented in full. And we will do all that we can to make sure that this happens.
Obviously, this is not only an issue of non-proliferation and nuclear weapons, this is also a regional issue and my message to Tehran – and we discussed this with the Minister at length – will also be that of taking the opportunity to shape a different regional framework. Passing from confrontation to cooperation could lead the way to solving, starting to solve many of the regional crises we are facing in this part of the world. And we, as Europeans, will invest all our political capital to try and facilitate the change of paradigm to pass from confrontation to cooperation in this region.
I would like very much to thank you, Minister, for your excellent work and the excellent conversation we’ve had and the fantastic cooperation I’m sure we’ll have with Saudi Arabia and Europe in the coming months.
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