Federica Mogherini discusses EU’s global strategy with Sweden: Situation in Aleppo and visa liberalisation with Turkey two main challenges
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Federica Mogherini discusses EU’s global strategy with Sweden: Situation in Aleppo and visa liberalisation with Turkey two main challenges

Photo credit: Audiovisual Services, European Commission
Margot Wallström, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs on the left and Federica Mogherini, in Stockholm
Photo credit: Audiovisual Services, European Commission

EU’s foreign policy chief was invited to a public seminar in Stockholm to give a speech on “EU as Global Actor”.  During her visit yesterday (10 October) she also met with the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, and the Foreign and Security Policy Community in Sweden to discuss the implementation of the Global Strategy that EU just has launched.

At a joint press conference, Mogherini started with congratulating Sweden for taking a seat in the UN Security Council next January 2017.

Sweden had lobbied hard at the point of compromising its foreign policy to become a member of the Security Council. It was elected at a vote in the UN General Assembly last June and will chair the Council already in January. The other non-permanent seat for Western Europe will be divided between Italy (2017) and The Netherlands (2018).

EU and Turkey

Mogherini took some questions on urgent issues that EU is struggling with.  On the state of play of the migration agreement with Turkey, she said that “as far as we see it, it is working” and added:

“For us it is essential, and I would like to stress it here – as I stress it also always when I am in Ankara – that this is implemented in full respect of international laws, human rights’ rules and standards of the European Union, of the international organisations.”

On visa liberalization for Turkey, Mogherini underlined that the European Commission has determined a certain number of criteria or benchmarks.

“It has always been a merit-based process, as it is always for every country that negotiates visa liberalisation regime with the EU. It is up to the Turkish authorities to see if, when and how they would be ready to work to implement or meet these benchmarks. The benchmarks are there and are not going to change so now we are in this process of discussion with the Turkish authorities.”

She expressed some understanding of the situation in Turkey. “Obviously the situation is not operating in a vacuum in the sense that Turkey has faced a deep shock in the middle of July with the attempted coup, so obviously also on their side things require more time and more reflexion when it comes to, especially, the need to change the anti-terrorism law.”

“But again, the process is ongoing, talks are constructive for the moment, but the criteria will not be changed so the European citizens can be assured, and the Member States in the Council also, that criteria will not be modified and we have to make sure that they are all met before we go towards visa liberalisation.”

EU and Syria

On the suspended talks between the US and Russia and on Aleppo and the humanitarian crisis there, she stated that “after a conflict that has gone on for far too long, any conflict is even one day far too long but in this case we are really looking at a dramatic situation there, the EU has put forward a proposal, an urgency proposal on the humanitarian side of the situation.”

She hoped that after her talks with the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran “we can allow at least some humanitarian relief in Aleppo.” Mogherini added that “obviously the European position is very clear, we would need a cessation of hostilities, we would need an unhindered humanitarian access all over Syria.”

“To me, it has been very sad to see the Security Council in such a stalemate and especially Russia using its veto on a resolution that was backed by so many members of the UN,” Mogherini said. “It is indeed extremely important that we preserve the political space for dialogue and diplomacy.”

“This requires good will, from all sides, and there are plenty of question marks about that in these days. But that also requires patience, I would say even stubbornness and the European Union has proved to be resilient in this respect.”

The leading Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, commenting on Mogherini’s visit to Sweden, wrote that she has managed to achieve a strong role in EU during the two years since she became EU foreign policy chief (formally High Representative/Vice-President). She has been praised for her work until now and seems to enjoy her very difficult task despite its limited formal power.

The Brussels Times (Source: European External Action Service)