EU/security/defence – Iran – Syria – Kosovo
THE MINISTER – On the Common Security and Defence Policy, I think we achieved a very good result. First of all we’re going to launch new operations, for example to combat maritime piracy off the Horn of Africa and support regional cooperation in the Sahel. We then decided to move forward in pooling our capabilities in the framework of the European Defence Agency, particularly in the fields of in-flight refuelling, pilot training and medical support. We decided to activate, by January, the Operations Centre, which already exists and will enable us to coordinate our action in the Horn of Africa. We also reached a compromise to continue work on improving the European Union’s permanent capability for the planning and conduct of operations. The Common Security and Defence Policy really has been revitalized; for me, that’s extremely positive.
Regarding Iran, we first of all expressed our full solidarity with our British friends, whose diplomats were attacked in the circumstances you’re aware of. I’m happy that our Ambassador to Iran and his team were able to help the British diplomats escape when they were being chased and attacked. We decided to coordinate our decisions to recall our ambassadors; this has already been done in France’s case. On the nuclear issue, we also adopted major sanctions against 180 Iranian figures or entities. And we decided to work on the proposals made by President Sarkozy: namely, tough and unprecedented sanctions on the financial and oil sectors.
Finally, on Syria, I’ve just met the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Mr Elaraby, and I’m really delighted that the European Union has decided to formalize its relations with the Arab League, whose stance on the issue was absolutely decisive. We’re continuing to work, particularly to try to send observers onto Syrian territory with the regime’s agreement. I drew Mr Elaraby’s attention to the need to strengthen the humanitarian dimension of the mission to be carried out by these observers, in the event of Syria’s agreeing to the request presented to her by the Arab League. (…)
Q. – Did you discuss the western Balkans, and do you support the idea that Serbia should be given candidate status on 9 December?
THE MINISTER – We did talk about it. First of all, we condemned the events that took place in northern Kosovo, in which about 50 people were injured, particularly Germans, Austrians and Hungarians. There’s no other solution than the resumption of really constructive dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. That dialogue has resumed in recent days, moreover, with what appear to be promising steps forward. I said that in order to encourage Serbia to continue in this direction, we must send her positive signals. So France is in favour of recognizing Serbia’s EU membership candidate status, which will then enable the dialogue to continue and the Serbian authorities to pursue the path embarked upon./.