EU remarks after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State

Remarks by EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cather­ine Ash­ton fol­low­ing her meet­ing with U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton
“Sec­re­tary Clin­ton, Hillary, first of all, it’s always a plea­sure to meet you any­where in the world, and indeed we spend our lives find­ing our­selves in dif­fer­ent parts of the globe. But it’s always been a spe­cial plea­sure to meet with you here in Wash­ing­ton. And the rea­son for that more than any­thing is it’s our oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a lit­tle chance to reflect more on some of the big chal­lenges that we are fac­ing at the present time. Look­ing at the impor­tant and the imme­di­ate, but also that oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss the longer term.

And one of the areas that I’m most engaged in now is try­ing to devel­op, for what we describe in the Euro­pean Union as our own neigh­bor­hood, a much longer-term strat­e­gy and pol­i­cy around the con­cept of what I’d call deep democ­ra­cy – help­ing peo­ple to real­ize that democ­ra­cy is not just about what you do when you cast your bal­lot, but about the build­ing of insti­tu­tions and polit­i­cal par­ties, and the capac­i­ty to go on cast­ing your bal­lot in years to come.

And how we ensure that we’re able to sup­port the peo­ple in Egypt and Tunisia and in oth­er coun­tries too as they go for­ward with this demo­c­ra­t­ic process. It’s going to be of enor­mous impor­tance. And our com­mit­ment in the Euro­pean Union, along with your com­mit­ment, is to be there for that long-term challenge.

But com­bined with that too, we also have the longer-term chal­lenge of ensur­ing the eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty and devel­op­ment of these coun­tries. And that’s why for Europe, we’ve been devel­op­ing a new pro­gram. I’ve called it the Three Ms.

Mon­ey – resources avail­able for coun­tries in the short term to deal with the eco­nom­ic dif­fi­cul­ties and prob­lems they’ve faced. Sim­ply look­ing at Tunisia and Egypt, you can’t just think of tourism alone, but also to think more cre­ative­ly about using real invest­ment from some of the insti­tu­tions that we have, Euro­pean Invest­ment Bank being one of them. So those resources are there on the ground in the short term, but also for the long term. 

Mar­ket access – the abil­i­ty to use our trade to be able to sup­port these coun­tries in help­ing their econ­o­my devel­op. And that means not only open­ing mar­kets but ensur­ing that peo­ple can take advan­tage of those mar­kets. Help them meet the stan­dards that we all have for our cit­i­zens, help­ing them to pro­duce the goods that we want to buy.

And then mobil­i­ty, the third M. The capac­i­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly for young peo­ple – these are young soci­eties – to be able to move around, to have edu­ca­tion and sup­port across coun­tries in the Euro­pean Union, many of whom have long his­to­ries of links with young peo­ple in those coun­tries. And along­side young peo­ple, the busi­ness peo­ple that will need to be able to trav­el to sup­port the trade that I’ve already described.

So those three Ms are the back­bone of the kind of strat­e­gy that we’re try­ing to put togeth­er now to sup­port the neigh­bor­hood. It’s new, it’s big­ger, it is bold­er. It will, I hope, be a recog­ni­tion that the Euro­pean Union takes its respon­si­bil­i­ties in its neigh­bor­hood seri­ous­ly. And as I said in my sec­ond week in this job, Europe should be judged by its effec­tive­ness in its own neigh­bor­hood, and I firm­ly believe that.

There are real­ly seri­ous issues for Syr­ia. I spoke to the for­eign min­is­ter of Syr­ia last week and explained to him in a very detailed way how impor­tant it was to take this clos­ing win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty and change course. And we will see whether any recog­ni­tion of what I said comes for­ward, but I have to say that we will look again at the sanc­tions that we’ve tak­en to ensure that they are as strong as they pos­si­bly can be.

We wor­ry too about Yemen and call upon the pres­i­dent there to ful­fill his oblig­a­tions and to sign the agreement.

Sec­re­tary of State Clin­ton and I also talked about oth­er areas, and I think par­tic­u­lar­ly about Bosnia- Herze­gov­ina, where I went last week to make it per­fect­ly plain to Pres­i­dent Dodik that the Day­ton Agree­ment is here to stay and that there is an expec­ta­tion that he will play his full part as a politi­cian in that coun­try in help­ing to try and move for­ward for the coun­try as a whole.

And it will be very impor­tant, as I said in Bosnia, that for the peo­ple of that coun­try that the gov­ern­ment is formed as quick­ly as pos­si­ble and takes its respon­si­bil­i­ties. Ris­ing unem­ploy­ment – real chal­lenges that are being faced there – need a gov­ern­ment to lead for the future.

And final­ly Iran, where I had a recent let­ter from Dr. Jalili, it’s tak­en three months for that reply to come. I had wished for a stronger and bet­ter let­ter from them to rec­og­nize that the offer on the table (from the E3+3) is an offer they should look at very care­ful­ly. I will be send­ing a reply. We’ll be con­sult­ing with our part­ners, not least with the Unit­ed States, before we do so. But I do urge Iran to think again and to con­sid­er com­ing back to the table.

In terms of Iran, I would like to say there will be a new round of talks. But from the let­ters that I’ve received, I don’t see that at the present time.” 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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