The Slovenia Times

After two World Wars this continent has seen the most successful peace project in history - the European Union


As the second biggest economy, the leading trade partner and foreign investor in the world, the largest provider of humanitarian aid and increasingly a global security provider, the EU is much stronger than some Europeans think, highlights H.E. Federica Mogherini. She explains that common engagement and work with the new US administration remains strong in many areas, from Syria to Ukraine to the Middle East. H.E. Mogherini emphasises the EU's political role in the Syrian conflict, adding that the EU has been, and continues to be, the biggest donor to Syrian civil society since day one, both within and outside of Syria, having mobilised close to EUR 10bn since the beginning of the crisis.

In 2017, the European Union (EU) celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, recently revised the European Neighbourhood Policy, reinvigorated relations between the EU and its neighbours to the east and the south. Where do you see the potential for promoting a stronger role for Europe on the global stage?

First of all, let me say that the EU is already strong, much stronger than some Europeans think. We are the second biggest economy, the leading trade partner and foreign investor in the world, the largest provider of humanitarian aid and increasingly a global security provider. The EU is and will continue to be the reliable, predictable, cooperative and indispensable partner the world needs. We had to learn the hard way, but after two World Wars this continent has seen the most successful peace project in history - lessons which we can share with the world. The European way, choosing cooperation over confrontation, is the approach the world can continue to expect us to promote and uphold in the future. Security, for example, is not only about military might, but rather about finding common ground and stimulating human development and economic growth. It is about democracy, rule of law and human rights. The European way builds on multilateral interaction and cooperation, upholding a rules-based global order, and as Europeans we bring these ideas to life every single day, both inside and outside our Union.

What conditions are needed to counter terrorism and terrorist financing effectively?

It is crucial that we continue to strengthen our exchange of information and deepen the cooperation among our intelligence services, both within the EU but also with our partners around the world. Ever since the attacks in Paris in 2015, the EU has been working on new ways to tackle both the internal and the international dimension of the threat, in addition to the existing measures. We have passed new legislation to improve police and justice cooperation, to prevent the trafficking of small arms and to close the channels for terrorist financing. Then, engaging with communities to prevent radicalisation and social polarisation is key. Outside our borders, we know that the strength of our partners is our own strength and so we are focusing on capacity building in the Middle East and North Africa, in Turkey and the Western Balkans, in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, and we have deployed experts to our delegations in key countries to increase cooperation with our partners. Cooperation is a key word, as is openness. Isolation and the restriction of fundamental freedoms can never be an answer to the threats facing our citizens. The EU and the international community need to stand united and act with determination to prevent future attacks and terrorist activities.

You have said that "NATO is not only the cornerstone of EU security but of US security". With regard to current political policies, where do European and American interests coincide?

Transatlantic relations have been and remain essential to the world, despite some differences. Our common engagement and common work with the new US administration remains strong in many areas, for instance from Syria to Ukraine and to the Middle East. I have had frequent contact over the course of these first six months with Vice President Pence, both in Washington and when he visited the EU institutions in Brussels - which was a very strong signal to Europe of the continued importance that the US authorities place on the transatlantic relationship - as well as with Secretary of State Tillerson, Defence Secretary Mattis, National Security Adviser McMaster among others. I also met President Trump at the end of May in Brussels. The message that I have received time and time again is that there is the willingness from the new administration to keep working together and to maintain our open and constructive dialogue and joint action. And the same goes for us. Having said that, it is no secret that there are areas where we have our disagreements: the full implementation of the Paris climate agreement, for example, where we believe this is essential, or the absolute need to invest in the United Nations and in multilateralism, in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and humanitarian and development aid. We stay committed to bringing forward this agenda.


For 2017, European leaders have pledged EUR 5.6bn in aid for Syria. According to the EU Strategy for Syria, how can the EU contribute to a lasting political solution?

We are not a military player in the conflict and I strongly believe that it makes our role even more important because we have not destroyed, because we help people's daily lives, we have a strong role to play when it comes to the political mediation and peaceful solution to the crisis. We have been on the side of the civilian population since day one and remain the largest donor for Syrians, both within and outside of Syria, having mobilised close to EUR 10bn since the beginning of the crisis. In addition, the EU plays a unique role on the political scene. As outlined in the Syria Strategy, we are working towards putting an end to the war and helping Syrians prepare for the future, together with the UN, the powers of the region and most of all, the people of Syria. We, the EU, work with all key regional players to help them identify the common ground on the basis of which they could facilitate a political solution to the conflict. The EU provides support to the Syrian opposition and works closely with Syrian civil society groups in preparing for transition, supporting human rights, reconciliation and transitional justice as well as the resilience of the Syrian people and the Syrian society. All this work is directly feeding the UN-led process in Geneva for achieving a political transition in Syria in accordance with UN resolution 2254. At the Brussels conference on the future of Syria and the region that we co-hosted in Brussels at the beginning of April, we started to reflect on the possible reconstruction of Syria, once a credible political process is underway, to show the Syrians what the dividends for peace can be.

How will BREXIT affect the EU foreign and security policy?

Firstly, Britain has not yet left the EU. We are still 28 Member States and will remain so for the next two years while the exit is negotiated. This is important to say because in every area of our foreign policy, from being the leading donor of development and humanitarian aid in the world, to being a staunch defender of human rights climate action, and a place for researchers and students to come and further their work, the EU continues to act, to act in unity, at 28. And this will continue until we become 27. As we speak, negotiations on Britain leaving have not yet begun, and our future partnership will be discussed only at a second stage. We, of course, want to retain a strong partnership and to continue to work closely together in the future, but when the UK does leave, this will not affect our global work: the EU will remain a global power, the world's first market, and the reliable and relevant partner that we are now. To take just one example, the EU has taken greater steps in the area of common security and defence in the past year than in the previous 60 years. The UK contributes about 3% of the civilian and 5% of the military capabilities of the EU, to our 15 civilian and military EU operations around the world. This is a valuable contribution, but not insurmountable by any means, and losing it won't have a dramatic consequence for our work. And finally, let me say that even though the EU will lose one of our members, there are many countries doing everything they can to join our community. Just look at the Western Balkans. The European Union's ability to inspire positive change, to accompany democratic reform and to support the hopes and dreams of the people in our European neighbourhood, for me clearly demonstrates that as a foreign and security player, the EU can be an even stronger player in the future than we are now.

The EU and India are committed to increase their bilateral trade and investment through the Free Trade Agreement negotiations that were launched in 2007. What are your feelings since your last visit to India?

A free trade agreement would be a win-win for both the EU and for India. We both stand to benefit from it. While I was in New Delhi at the end of May, I had the opportunity to reaffirm our common commitment to reach such an agreement with Prime Minister Modi and other members of the government. It was a very fruitful visit which has opened new avenues for our cooperation, not only in the areas of trade and investment, but across many areas of our relations, from sustainable development to peace-building, and from security cooperation to tackling climate change together - implementing the Paris Agreement, which is an essential commitment from the global community to our and future generations - a strong partnership between the EU and India can have a positive impact not just for our own citizens, but for citizens across the world.


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