I write on my way back from Vienna, where I gathered – for the first time at ministerial level – the Joint Commission that oversees the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran. Together with the Foreign Minister of Iran Javad Zarif, of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, of Germany Heiko Maas, of Russia Sergei Lavrov, of China Wang Yi and British Minister of State Alistair Burt, we discussed a substantial package of measures to preserve the deal, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from it.
In Vienna we confirmed our political determination to keep implementing the deal, which is a strategic security interest for the European Union and the world. And beyond that, we agreed on actions to maintain Iran’s oil and gas exports, to keep financial channels and trade relations open, to support entrepreneurs who invest in Iran – particularly the small and medium ones. Here is the text we agreed with the ministers, which I read to the press after the meeting.
Before I chaired the Commission, I had a long chat with Zarif to discuss the implementation of the deal – which Iran is respecting in full, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The trip to Vienna was also an opportunity to meet bilaterally with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with whom we also discussed Ukraine, Syria and the Balkans, and with China’s Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi, ahead of mid-July’s summit between European Union and China.
My week has started in Rome, where I paid a visit to the headquarters of Operation Sophia, the European military operation we launched three years ago against human traffickers in the Mediterranean. Since 2015 tens of smugglers were arrested, 500 boats were seized, tens of thousands of lives were saved. Operation Sophia has also trained over 200 Libyan coastguards, including to the respect of human rights, and we expect Member States to contribute to monitor and support their work. Here is my speech in Rome.
I spent the rest of the week in Strasbourg, at the European Parliament’s plenary session. On Wednesday I met with representatives of Moldova’s opposition, in a moment of political crisis in the country. I also talked about this on the floor of the Parliament, here is my speech.
In Strasbourg we also deal with our partnership with Armenia, women and minority rights in Pakistan, our work for Somalia ahead of the ministerial meeting we will soon host in Brussels, and the situation in Burundi. I also met with the Foreign Affairs and Development Committees to discuss our proposal for the budget of the European Union (I explained it here).