Federica Mogherini: "Only Syria diplomacy can defeat ISIS"
The EU's foreign affairs chief also expressed optimism on the new era of Iran/Western relations.
Iran has been welcomed into the international fold as Russia remains out of favour. Busy times for Europe and its foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini. She sat down with EuroparlTV and our first question: What could be on the way after France invoked an EU treaty solidarity clause following attacks in Paris? Somehow we are in new territory because it's the first time we use an article of the treaty. I believe this has a very important significance politically, because it means that also in the field of defence we can use the articles of the treaties...
To develop the Common Security and Defence Policy? To develop it even more because we do have 17 EU missions and operations around the world already. So we do have a capacity there, out there already. But there are articles of the treaties that we can use even more. This is an example of that. But what about a combined military response by the Member States of Europe? I do not see a future EU military intervention in Syria or in Iraq. I said this several times. The European Union has a role, a crucial one, on Syria and the fight against Daesh on two tracks.
One is the humanitarian assistance we give inside Syria and around Syria. And second is the support and the facilitation we are providing for the political talks to try to sort the crisis in Syria. There are talks that will happen in Geneva on January 25 involving all the key players from Russia to the EU to Iran. What is expected from these talks? What we have done immediately after having reached an agreement with Iran on their nuclear programme, after the summer, we have pushed for forming an international support group for Syria with all the relevant actors in the region and the international scenes.
The talks among the Syrians that are supposed to start in a few days in Geneva are going to be the starting point of, on one side, a political transition... So, yes, a transition means that you start in one place and you end up in another one. In Damascus, in parallel, a ceasefire among all those that are fighting the internal civil war in Syria. That could allow us to unite forces to effectively fight against Daesh and defeat Daesh. But Bashar al-Assad specifically, can you see him continuing? The international community does not have a common stance.
You know that. Iran and Russia have one position, the EU, our American friends, others in the region do not have the same position. The important point is that, rather than simply stating, as we have done for four or five years now, that Bashar al-Assad has to leave, and he is still there, we start a process that allows a transition to begin. The only way of defeating Daesh, not only fighting but defeating it, is to stop the civil war and unite forces against the major threat. Changing gears and coming to a former, you could say, international pariah, Iran, how do you see relations with Iran developing and how good is it for Europe? For Europe it's going to be very good.
From an economic point of view that's quite obvious. Europe has always been the strongest actor in an economic or commercial scene in Iran before the sanctions were introduced and you see this very clearly already. It's mainly for the European businesses to go back to invest and cooperate with Iranian businesses. But I see a lot of possible fields of cooperation between the European Union and Iran in the field of research and science and technology or culture.
We have plenty of fields where cooperation is possible. None of them is excluded. The real success will come when this agreement will manage to open the way for different, more cooperative relations between Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf and the region. This is the real investment. Can you see a problem in the future where the West has to choose between Sunni versus Shia? Tensions are there today and this is self-evident.
In this moment these are very serious and there is a serious risk that the bilateral tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran could develop into something bigger for the region and for the rest of the world. But on the other side, look back one year, two years ago... -To the relations with Iran... Relations with Iran were at a completely different moment. An agreement was far from reality. We were working on that but we were very far away. The sanctions were in place, and what happened just a few days ago with the release of prisoners of US citizenship in Iran and Iranian citizenship in the US was inconceivable just one year ago.
So things can change and change in a positive way. And just lastly, what next for Russia? Sanctions on Russia have just been rolled over in December. The European Union was, is and stays united on this, on the fact that this is linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. There is no change in policy there. I hope in the future to improve relations with Russia. On other issues we work in a constructive way with Russia. Think of the Iranian deal, we did it together.
Think of the Middle East situation, we work together. Think of the situation in Libya, all the work we do in the UN Security Council, we do it together. On the Ukrainian issue, on the annexation of Crimea, our policy stays the same, but our wish is that our relations with Russia could improve and the Minsk agreement be fully implemented. Ms Mogherini, thank you for joining us on EuroparlTV.