#Gymnich: Statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell following the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Zagreb, (Image: archive).
“…Turkey and Russia were in our agenda. Our relations with these two countries are difficult, but we have to improve them from different points of view. We have been accumulating difficulties and we have to restart a new approach to overcome these difficulties. [In our relations] with Russia we have five guiding principles since the Crimea crisis, which are very well fitted to the situation. We have to increase our engagement on selective issues, in which we have to have a good partnership with Russia: energy, climate change, Artic, Russia’s engagement in Syria and Libya, playing important roles that affect our security. Today has been an interesting approach on how to deal with that.
“On Turkey the situation is strongly linked to the crisis in Idlib. [We are] at the beginning of a migration crisis, the consequences of the Turks letting people go, making [them] maybe believe that the borders of Europe were open. We have to defend our borders, we have to conciliate the respect of the human rights of migrants with the fact that our borders cannot be violated, people cannot across the borders illegally. At the same time we have to talk with the Turks about many issues that affect directly our security, because Turkey is also playing an important role in the Libyan crisis.
“Tomorrow we are going to approve a statement putting [down in] black and white the conclusions, but today has been an open discussion about these two important neighbours which are unavoidably part of our security and part of our most important concerns.”
Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy announced today three senior appointments in the European External Action Service (EEAS):
Enrique MORA BENAVENTE as Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs, Political Director. He is currently Political Director at the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and previously Head of Cabinet of High Representative / Secretary General of the Council of the European Union Javier Solana.
Stefano SANNINO as Deputy Secretary General for Economic and Global Issues. He is currently Ambassador of Italy to Spain and was previously Permanent Representative of Italy to the European Union and Director General for Enlargement in the European Commission.
Charles FRIES as Deputy Secretary General for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and crisis response. He is currently the Ambassador of France to Turkey and was previously Ambassador of France to Morroco and Secretary General for European Affairs in Paris.
The three Deputy Secretary General will work under the guidance of Secretary General Helga Schmid.
Josep Borrell announced he “wants to further strengthen the European External Action Service to address changing international realities effectively“.
“With the appointments announced today, the EEAS will have a strong and experienced management team to advance the work in implementing the political priorities set by the High Representative”.
Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office reported on its website on January 24 that pre-trial probes involving two Russian diplomats as part of an espionage case had been launched.
Diplomats from Russian Federation who were declared personae non gratae in Bulgaria on January 24 have left that country, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Bulgaria told TASS News agency.
“The Russian diplomats left Bulgaria on Sunday,” the spokesman said.
Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said that one Russian diplomat had been declared persona non grata and one Russian embassy’s technical staff member had been declared an undesirable person. Both were given 48 hours to leave the country.
Following the incident, the Russian foreign ministry underlined that Bulgarian side had not presented any evidence to reason the decision to expel the Russian diplomats.
The Russian Foreing ministry warned that they reserved the right for symmetric response.
The Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office reported on its website on January 24 that pre-trial probes involving two Russian diplomats as part of an espionage case had been launched. According to the prosecutors, their illegal activities included elections and the energy sector. In accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Bulgaria halted criminal proceedings against the two Russian citizens. However, the Prosecutor’s Office claims that there are grounds for indicting them.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed a proposal for a new nuclear deal proposed by the U.S.President Trump to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, saying the accord is not previous US president Barack Obama’s deal to expire.
“We did not sign an “Obama deal” to go for a “Trump deal” now. Even if we did, who’s to say we won’t need Biden, Sanders or Warren deal next year?” Zarif said in a tweet on referring to American nominees competing against Trump in the 2020 presidential race.
Zarif added that Iran believed in diplomacy “but not in re-negotiating a UNSC Resolution we agreed on with six Governments and the EU.”
“JCPOA remains a topical issue despite all the challenges. We advocate its purposeful and comprehensive implementation under the parameters that were coordinated during the conclusion of the agreements in 2015 and formalised in UNSC Resolution 2231″ Russian Foreign Affairs stated on their Twitter microblog.
EU top diplomat Josep Borrell expressed his serious concerns by arrest of the British Ambassador to Tehran H.E.Rob Macaire.
The British ambassador to Iran has denied taking part in demonstrations after he was held by Iranian authorities in the aftermath of Ukraine plane crash protests.
Rob Macaire made the statement on Twitter after the Iranian authorities detained him on suspicion of organising, provoking and directing radical actions.
“Thanks for the many goodwill messages. Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects- some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting” Ambassador wrote on his Twitter micorblog.
Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed on January 11 that the envoy in Tehran was briefly detained by Iranian authorities, denouncing the arrest as a “flagrant violation of international law”.
Earlier, the Tehran-based Tasnim news agency reported that H.E.Rob Macaire was arrested for several hours in front of Amir Kabir University for inciting anti-government protesters.
The EU foreign ministers confirmed the intention to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as nuclear deal, with Iran. We regret American decision to withdraw from JCPoA and I can not exclude that out attempts to preserve it will fail, but today Council was unanimous to do maximum to keep it, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said.
Borrell underlined the importance of the nuclear deal for the non-proliferation, pointing that without it Tehran would have had a nuclear weapons by now.
In an attempt to save the Iran nuclear deal Borrell invited his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif to Brussels.
EU diplomat regretted Tehran’s latest announcement to stop abiding to the deal and promised to keep working with all participants involved to find a diplomatic solution.
On the Iran issue the diplomats had discussions with the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who has been invited to attend the Council. Borrell had also informed the Member States about the conversations he had with the Secretary of State of the United States Mike Pompeo, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif .
“We are also committed to preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Without the JCPOA, Iran would be a nuclear power today. Thanks to this deal, Iran is not a nuclear power. We strongly believe that it is in our interest to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as far as we can. We have been saying in the past and we continue saying that we regret the United States decision to withdraw from the deal. We continue believing that this deal is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and critical for the regional stability,” Borrell said.
“We call on Iran to go back to full compliance to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action without delay and we rely on the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] to continue monitoring and verifying Iran’s [nuclear] activities. We strongly believe in the capacity of the IAEA to be able to monitor all Iranian activities on the nuclear field.”
The the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell convened an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council on January 10, to discuss with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers the crisis situation in Iraq and Libya, concluding a common EU strategy.
The EU diplomacy underlines its vital interest to promote peace and stability in the Middle East and Maghreb.
However Josep Borrell underlines that the situation in Libya remains a priority for the European Union and that an immediate cessation of hostilities and a sustainable ceasefire on the ground would be crucial for regional and European security.
Ahead of the meeting Charles Michel (pictured), the EU Council president, called Iranian authorities to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPoA) during a phone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani, and afterwards he urged the EU to opt for a more ambitious foreign policy.
“Just spoke with Hassan Rouhani about recent developments. JCPOA remains crucial for global security. I called Iran not to pose irreversible acts,” Michel tweeted.
Amid the U.S.-Iran crisis Teheran announced that it was renouncing its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that was designed for non-proliferation of the nuclear weapons.
The Ministers have to clarify their policies vis-a-vis Iraq, where parliament voted for the expulsion of the American military. During his conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi the EU head of diplomacy reaffirmed the European “unwavering support to Iraqi sovereignty and stability in the region”. He also reconfirmed the urgent need for de-escalation and EU’s readiness to support Iraq in fighting Da’esh and engage in regional dialogue.