EU – Iran : Joint Statement and remarks…


Tehran seeks EU leverage to get financial concessions from US

Federica Mogherini was in Tehran on Saturday at the head of the largest delegation of EU officials to visit Iran in years. The two sides announced a string of joint projects—from the energy sector to migration and joint research work—in a bid to broaden a bilateral relationship that was long restricted by the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.     [More]

Federica Mogherini was in Tehran on Saturday at the head of the largest delegation of EU officials to visit Iran in years. The two sides announced a string of joint projects—from the energy sector to migration and joint research work—in a bid to broaden a bilateral relationship that was long restricted by the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
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Joint statement

Brussels, 16 April 2016 – On 16 April 2016, the EU High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission (HRVP) Federica Mogherini met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran. European Commission representatives present included EU Commissioners Elżbieta Bieńkowska (Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs), Miguel Arias Cañete (Climate Action and Energy), Christos Stylianides (Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management), Violeta Bulc (Transport), Carlos Moedas (Research, Science and Innovation), Karmenu Vella (Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) and Tibor Navracsics (Education, Culture, Youth and Sport). They met with their Iranian counterparts.

The two sides taking stock of their long standing relations, based upon mutual respect and interests, reiterated their intention to develop a broad and comprehensive agenda for bilateral cooperation.

They welcomed the implementation day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on 16 January 2016 that contributed to opening a new chapter in EU-Iran relations. The EU and Iran are fully committed to the JCPOA and its implementation in all its aspects. It was reconfirmed that the continued and full implementation of the JCPOA remains of utmost importance.

It was stated that the following shared and overarching objectives are vital for the promotion of EU-Iran relations:

* Ensuring and supporting the full implementation of the JCPOA in order to further improve and deepen bilateral cooperation;

* Developing cooperative relations in areas of mutual interest to benefit the economic development, human rights, prosperity and well-being of the people of Iran and the EU;

* Promoting regional peace, security and stability as well as peaceful settlement of regional conflicts through dialogue and engagement.

* “To facilitate the programme of cooperation as set out below and with a view to preparing the future opening of an EU Delegation in Tehran, in accordance with rules and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an EU liaison team will be sent to Tehran. This will contribute to strengthening the relations and implement future cooperation initiatives.

* The EU and Iran intend to cooperate in the following areas:

Political Consultations

The two sides intend to enhance their political dialogue through consultations at the level of the HRVP and the Iranian Foreign Minister, annually. This advances the existing agreement to meet regularly for a High Level Dialogue at Deputy Minister/ Political Director level. Senior officials and experts will meet as required to explore other fields of mutual interest in which bilateral, regional and international cooperation projects could be developed.

Human Rights

The two sides expressed their determination to enhance and promote human rights. In this context, they intend to engage in a human rights dialogue. To this end, they would welcome the exchange of visits of delegations.

Economic Cooperation

The two sides encourage the expansion of economic relations between EU and Iran, recognizing the importance of macro-economic issues, trade, finance and investment in achieving sustainable growth and development. They intend to engage in a macro-economic and finance dialogue including on the following initiatives:

* Improve and enable financial as well as encouraging banking cooperation between the EU and Iran. The EU can assist if required in addressing Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) issues;

* Explore the prospect of extending the third country lending mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) to Iran, to enhance the availability of finance for investment in Iran and possible blending (of loans with grants);

* Cooperation in a variety of sectors with a focus in particular on encouraging regulatory and industrial policy dialogues and creating mutual opportunities, including textiles, tourism, raw materials, construction and any other areas to be mutually determined;

* Building on EU expertise in the field of SMEs support to foster business and in particular SMEs favourable environment in Iran and share information on the “Enterprise Europe Network”;

* Exchange of Iran and EU business missions in the second half of the year;

* Consider development cooperation on strengthening the private sector and SMEs in Iran;

* Facilitate and encourage EU-Iran business sector presence in each others’ markets through a variety of measures .

Trade and investment Cooperation

The two sides strive to strengthen their bilateral cooperation on trade and investment matters. With a view to renewing a dialogue to strengthen trade and investment relations between Iran and EU, they agreed to exchange visits of expert delegations at an appropriate level in the coming months. EU will support and assist Iran to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Agriculture

The two sides intend to promote cooperation on agriculture and the agri-food industry with a view to exploring production and technological methods and to assisting Iranian products to meet regulatory and phytosanitary standards of the European markets.

Transport

The two sides express their commitment to a safe and sustainable development of all modes of transportation in order to support the resumption of trade, investment and citizens´ links. Specifically with respect to the safety of transport, in line with consultations already held, they intend to:

* Perform technical assessments to remove and review restrictions on the aircraft fleet of Iran Air with regard to the EU Air Safety List, and to issue “Third Country Operator Authorization” to the Iranian air carriers that applied, provided the necessary safety requirements have been met;

* Embark on technical cooperation in support of aviation safety in Iran;

* Exchange views on the possibility of a horizontal agreement;

* Exchange views and experience on rail safety and interoperability, as well as facilitation of international rail transport, including rail corridors;

* Explore cooperation in other sectors, such as maritime, rail, road and urban transport.

Energy and climate change

Recognizing the significant potential in establishing a comprehensive cooperation in the field of energy, the two sides intend to:

* Foster improved conditions for investments and technology exchange in the production and generation of energy, and energy efficiency; and exchange information, where needed, on legal and regulatory frameworks ;

* Engage in initiatives which aim at strengthening the security of energy supply and demand in the region and beyond ;

* Cooperate in multilateral fora with a view to enhancing the transparency and the functioning of the global energy market ;

* Promote investments and encourage technological and technical exchanges to mitigate GHGs emission as well as adaptation measures through promoting energy efficiency in different sectors of the Iranian economy as well as enhancing use of renewable energies;

* Facilitate investments in upstream and downstream projects in the energy sector of Iran.

For this purpose it is intended to launch a dedicated EU-Iran Dialogue on Energy. The objectives and modalities of such cooperation are further detailed in the Joint Statement on Energy.

Civil nuclear cooperation

With a view to contributing to the implementation of measures listed in Annex III of the JCPOA, the two sides are launching a first cooperation project in the field of nuclear safety aimed at assisting the Atomic Energy Organisation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Nuclear Regulatory Authority through EU development assistance. In addition, the EU will share with Iran its experience acquired from stress tests carried out within the EU and in third countries. Additional options for co-operation in the civil nuclear field include joint fission and fusion research activities, as well as a possible regional nuclear safety conference and a nuclear business forum.

Environment

In recognition of the importance of protecting and conserving the environment and the role of resource efficiency in achieving green growth, and in acknowledgment of Iran’s pressing environmental challenges, the two sides intend to:

* Establish bilateral co-operation to address air, soil and water pollution, water resources management, conservation and sustainable use of nature, biodiversity, desertification, and waste disposal management issues;

* Exchange experiences with a view to identifying appropriate policy responses, including projects to tackle cross-border pollution;

* Strengthen co-operation in international environmental fora including in the framework of multilateral environmental agreements.

Civil protection

In support of better prevention, detection and response to disasters, including at the regional level, the two sides intend to share experiences and best practices.

Science, Research and Innovation

The two sides will foster further the science, research and innovation cooperation between the EU and Iran, including through stepping up Iran´s participation in the EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 and its complementary Euratom Programme. They will encourage setting up partnerships with EU counterparts, knowledge-sharing, mobility of researchers, participation in collaborative research activities in various areas. They will share experience in the areas of technology and innovation. For this a separate joint statement on science, technology, research and innovation was agreed between Commissioner Carlos Moedas and his counterpart, Dr. Mohammad Farhadithe Iranian Minister for Science, Research and Technology and Dr. Sorena Sattari the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran for Science and Technology.

Education

Acknowledging the importance of developing the human dimension of EU-Iran relations, the two sides intend to further deepen their cooperation in the field of higher education. To this effect, it is recalled that the EU has earmarked an additional budget of EUR 3 million for Erasmus+ actions, to be used for cooperation with Iran in 2016 and 2017. The two sides will expand the possibilities for Iranian higher education institutions to participate in the Jean Monnet action for European integration studies. They also intend to organize relevant academic events and fairs, in Tehran towards the end of 2016 to foster cooperation between our universities and promote the participation of Iranian students and researchers and academic staff in EU programmes, particularly Erasmus+ and the Marie Sklodowska Curie action. The EU will also explore ways to allow for Iranian students to participate in Erasmus+ “credit mobility” action, which consists of short-term mobility to European and Iranian universities.

Culture

Both Iran and the EU have remarkably rich cultures and cultural heritage which makes them significant for global tourism industry. Both sides therefore will promote tourism and ecotourism plans and programs. Moreover, the two sides would share expertise in the area of conservation and restoration of archaeological and historical works of art and monuments in order to contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage and the promotion of cultural tourism. To this effect, the EU can share its expertise in the field, including through developing specific training modules. The two sides also intend to further develop cultural cooperation between EU, its Member States and Iran, including through exchanges of professionals and organisation of events aimed at making their respective cultures better known to the people in the EU and Iran. To this effect the two sides will consider ways to improve Iran-EU cultural and art exchanges in Tehran and the European capitals. In addition, Iran and the EU consider that developing their cooperation in the field of sport constitutes a component of their engagement.

Drugs

Both sides recognized and agreed to meet the challenges for Iran resulting from opium production in the region, as well as its multiple negative side effects in the areas of drug trafficking, human trafficking, border management, law enforcement and health related aspects. Drug abuse inflicts huge damage on the societies and individuals in Europe and Iran, thus both sides have a common interest in addressing the drugs problem, both on the supply and demand side, as well as transit issues. The two sides intend to engage in consultations, exchange of experience,and expertise, including on effective and proportional criminal justice, as well as explore measures to address root causes of the problem, including poverty alleviation and reconstruction in Afghanistan, support for political stability to foster required environment for sustainable development in that country, both at multilateral and bilateral levels. Both sides share the view on the need for evidence-based, integrated, comprehensive and balanced approach in the fight against drugs.

Migration

The two sides agreed to launch a comprehensive migration dialogue and acknowledged the need to exchange information on migration management and flows as well as on policy and legislative approaches and priorities in relation to regular and irregular migration, asylum seekers and refugees, both at national and regional levels.

Regional issues

The two sides acknowledged the seriousness and urgency of addressing the volatile situation in the region. Terrorism, extremism and violence have endangered regional stability and inflicted loss of human life and resources on an unprecedented scale and have become global issues. In this context, both sides will look at ways to implement the UNGA Resolution on World Against Violence and Extremism (A/RES/128/67). They therefore consider that it is crucial to translate the positive benefits of the JCPOA into improved prospects for regional peace and stability. To this end, the two sides will engage, in a constructive and equitable manner, on regional issues with a view to building channels of dialogue, mutual trust and understanding, and in particular to fostering approaches aimed at resolving regional crises.

The two sides consider that solutions to such crises must be inclusive, peaceful and comprehensive, and above all sustainable. They stress the need for all actors to adopt constructive approaches that reinforce the principles of non-interference and the territorial integrity of states, as well as respecting the primacy of international law, including human rights.

Humanitarian Cooperation

The two sides share deep concerns on the dire humanitarian situation in the region due to the multiple conflicts. Violence and insecurity have led to the displacement of millions of people and the EU and Iran advocate all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of vulnerable population as well as humanitarian access to the people in need. The two sides intend to enhance humanitarian coordination and humanitarian assistance delivery in respect of International Humanitarian Law in the crises affecting Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. The EU expresses its appreciation to Iran’s decision to include all registered Afghan refugees in the national health insurance scheme on the same basis as its own citizens and to allow all foreign children irrespective of their legal status to be enrolled in the national education system. The EU will continue to provide humanitarian and development assistance in support of health care, shelter, food security and protection for the most vulnerable. In order to meet the needs of a growing number of Afghans in Iran, the EU will make immediately available EUR 6.5 million for additional humanitarian support. Within this amount EUR 1.5 million is allocated to assist with the integration of 10,000 out of school Afghan children into the Iranian education system. Both the EU and Iran recognize the importance of working closely with the Government of Afghanistan on a common and mutually reinforcing strategy towards durable solutions. Cooperation on civil society building and strengthening of the local authorities is continuing and the two sides intend to increase this cooperation in the future.

EU-Iran relations

Relations UE-Iran [fr]

Beziehungen zwischen der EU und Iran [de]

Relations between the EU and Iran have been through different stages and over the last decade, conditioned by the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme, and the consequent sanctions regime that was put in place.

Relations between the EU and Iran have been through different stages and over the last decade, conditioned by the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme, and the consequent sanctions regime that was put in place.

Negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme resulted in an agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 14 July 2015 by the E3+3 (EU, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia China and the United States) with Iran. The agreement is aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme while providing for the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions as well as EU and US sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Foreign Affairs Council of 20 July 2015, endorsed the JCPOA and also expressed the expectation that this “positive development will open the door to a steady improvement in relations between the European Union, its Member States and Iran, as well as improved Iranian regional and international relations (…)”.

On 16 January 2016, the EU lifted all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against Iran[1]. This followed verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had implemented the agreed nuclear-related measures as set out in the JCPOA.

The conclusion and implementation of the JCPOA has opened the way for a renewal of broader relations. This welcome development allows the EU and Iran to start a gradual engagement, which will take place on the basis of the full implementation of the JCPOA by Iran.

Following the High Level Dialogue held on 8-9 February 2016 at Vice-Minister/Political Director level, where future areas of cooperation between the EU and Iran were identified and a joint exploratory mission on energy, research and innovation related issues on 16-17 February, the High Representative/Vice-President will now visit Iran together with seven Commissioners with the objective of laying the basis for future cooperation covering a wide variety of sectors and issues.

This visit will also allow for greater exchanges on global and regional issues of mutual interest, in particular how to contribute to a more stable and secure region. The EU also attaches great importance to being able to have frank exchanges on human rights issues which should be part of the renewed EU-Iran dialogue.

Under the JCPOA, a Joint Commission was established consisting of all members of the E3/EU+3 and Iran. The High Representative/Vice-President will coordinate the work of the Joint Commission which will oversee the implementation of the agreement.

Policy areas:

Human rights

Human rights in Iran remain a concern. Engaging Iran on human rights will be a core component of our relationship and our agreed political dialogues.

Economy – trade

In terms of trade and investment, reengagement with Iran will create opportunities on both sides. While in 2004 the EU exports to Iran were reaching the level of almost €12 billion, due to the sanctions they dropped by 46% to less than €6.5 billion in 2014. Recognising the importance of the global trading system, the EU is particularly supportive with regard to Iran’s willingness to join the WTO.

Energy

With the objective of a full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including its Annex III on nuclear co-operation, the EU will aim to develop durable relations with Iran in the nuclear field. The initial focus will be on nuclear safety matters aimed at strengthening the regulatory and legislative framework.

Cooperation on wider energy issues could aim at promoting and improving the business and investment climate and exploring the potential of Iran for Europe’s energy security given its large gas and oil reserves. It could also comprise an increased use of clean energy and efficient energy demand management, and encouraging transparent, rule-based and well-functioning regional and global energy markets.

Environment

Iran has many environmental challenges, water scarcity, land degradation and air pollution being the more prevalent. An effective response to these challenges requires both regional and multilateral co-operation. The EU will engage with Iran to enhance the protection of the environment.

Business cooperation

Potential areas of cooperation range from industry and services sectors, SME policy and business environment. This could facilitate the development of Iranian companies and the creation of jobs and at the same time support European companies wishing to do business in Iran. Concrete ways of cooperation will be examined in other sectors, such as construction/infrastructures, SME development, tourism and creative industries.

Agriculture

The EU and Iran are important agricultural producers. There is a potential to strengthen the bilateral links in the interests of both by promoting each other’s food products in the respective markets and enhancing agri-business investment. As partners they shall also promote cooperation on agricultural policies and sharing sector know-how.

Transport

An efficient, safe and secure transport system is key to facilitate trade, investment and connectivity. Regulatory issues and aviation safety will be two priorities. Further cooperation activities in the fields of rail, maritime, road and urban transport also offer potential for future cooperation.

Education and Culture

Iran is taking part in Erasmus+ for the Middle East (between 2007-2013 323 scholarships were awarded, and 10 Iranian academic institutions took part) with an overall amount of these ongoing activities estimated at €10 million. Cooperation in the field of higher education can be stepped up. The EU and Iran have remarkably rich cultures and can greatly benefit from exchanges and cooperation in the cultural field.

Research and innovation

Science, research and innovation are particularly promising areas of cooperation under the framework of Horizon 2020, which is open to participation from Iranian public and private entities. Collaboration in the area of renewable energy, climate change and bio-economy are also possibilities.

International Cooperation and Development

As an upper middle income country, the bulk of development cooperation with Iran is implemented through thematic programmes. Iran is involved in the “Support to the Silk Routes Partnership for Migration under the Budapest Process” (which improves basic structures in migration management). The country also benefits from activities under the Climate Technology Centre and Network initiative. The European Commission has just adopted a new project of €5 million euro in the area of nuclear safety cooperation, which is in line with the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that foresees civil nuclear cooperation in specific technical areas. The project will support the regulatory authority of Iran in reviewing the regulatory framework and building technical capacity by transferring EU expertise, support regional outreach and the establishment of a nuclear safety center in Iran.

Humanitarian aid

After decades of protracted displacement of Afghans, Iran is hosting an estimated 980.000 documented refugees and asylum seekers (UNHCR, June 2015) and between 1.5 and 2 million undocumented ones. The European Commission has been continuously providing humanitarian aid to refugees and asylum seekers in Iran. Between 2002 and 2015, the European Commission allocated € 10.5 million to Afghan Refugee programmes in Iran and this assistance will increase in the future.

Regional issues

Iran has an important regional role. The EU will engage to encourage tangible and constructive steps that would help make an improved regional situation a reality, including by helping find solutions to regional challenges.

Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the Joint Press Conference with Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran

Tehran, 16 April 2016 – Thank you very much to you, Javad, to my friends, the Commissioners, the seven Commissioners that have been traveling with me, my colleagues and our respective teams but also to the media that has been so patient and still so numerous in following our works. Thank you very much.

I believe that today we moved from the phase where the Minister and myself were reading joint statements on the JCPOA in Farsi and in English, to joint statements on our respective cooperation in different sectors and I think here comes the symbolism of this visit but also what makes it very concrete.

This is my second time for an official visit in Tehran. The first time I was alone, with obviously my team, but not accompanied by seven colleagues and our focus was mainly, just a few days after the agreement was reached in July, on the Iranian nuclear programme and the implementation of the JCPOA. Today, I am here with seven Commissioners covering a very broad spectrum of issues from economy to science, from education to transport, from migration to environment and energy and obviously our political dialogue on the regional and international situation and our focus is mainly on this. We cover a broad spectrum of issues that lay the ground for our renewed bilateral relations.

So, we are turning the page. In July, we were saying that diplomacy works; in January, we were saying that diplomacy can deliver with the Implementation Day and today my message to Iran and to the Iranian people would like to be that diplomacy is worthy. We want, as Europeans, Iranian people to have and to see the benefits of this Agreement turning into changes in their everyday lives. We are on the same side on this and here I do not speak on my personal capacity, I am sure I speak on behalf of all my colleagues in the Commission but I dare to say that I speak on behalf on the 500 million Europeans that are supporting our new era in our relations.

We obviously have not finished the work on implementation of the JCPOA. We still have to make sure that the work continues, it is an ongoing task. I take my role as the coordinator of the Joint Commission very seriously because the continuous monitoring of the implementation and also the continuous dialogue on the difficulties we might encounter on different parts and different sides on the implementation of the agreement is something that is in the interest of all. We have had already two meetings of the Joint Commission, we will have another one coming up very soon and again I, in my capacity as coordinator of the Joint Commission, do the utmost to make sure that this is the case.

Iran has delivered on its side of the deal. The European Union has also delivered on its commitments. We have lifted the nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions, and we come here today to resume constructive dialogue with Iran on many different fields, in very concrete ways and the dialogue that we just had – and the ones that are going to follow in the afternoon and tomorrow -are aiming at concrete results.

Europe and Iran have a very long history of relations, historically, culturally and economically. We have cooperated many times in our histories; long histories in both cases, and some other times we have had difficulties. But we never experienced the challenge of being alien to each other. The channels among our people have always been there.

Obviously today the fact that we are engaging in this constructive relationship does not mean that any difference, any distance, any disagreement has disappeared; but it means that we are willing and committed to discuss and face these issues, all of them, in an open and constructive manner.

We aim at a dialogue that is comprehensive in scope, cooperative in the fields where we have mutual interest, and our citizens have mutual interest, a dialogue that can be critical and open in the areas where we know we disagree, looking for common ground, and overall constructive in tone and in practice. So you can call it a “dialogue of the 4 Cs”: comprehensive, cooperative, critical if needed, constructive always.

What we are doing today is exactly this: laying the basis for this constructive dialogue on this wide range of areas which, I stress it, can and will make a real difference in the lives of Iranians and Europeans alike. I would like to give you some examples of things that we have agreed upon or we are discussing with my colleagues in these hours.

First on the economic sector. We have agreed to enhance our economic cooperation. We will support the Iranian’s bid to join the WTO, we have agreed to exchange business delegations and to cooperate on financial issues, on tourism, textiles, agriculture. We used to be Iranians’ main trade partner and we are determined to take up that position again.

Second, on energy. We agreed to have a dedicated dialogue and closer cooperation on energy as Iranian oil and gas will again be an important part of the European energy mix and improve our energy security in Europe. On the other hand, the European Union has the expertise and technology to help Iran improve its production capacity and its energy efficiency.

Third, in the education field. We believe exchanges between students and researchers and cooperation between Universities would help deliver the full potential of human capital between the European Union and Iran. European programmes on Education and Science are open to Iranian researchers, students, professors. As we believe we have a lot that we can learn from each other.

Fourth, on migration. We have decided to establish ways to address together the migration flows originating from this region that both affect Iran and the European Union. In particular we can announce today an extra 6.5 million euros to support Iran in particular in the education and health care of the many Afghans who are residing in this country.

Fifth, on environment. We are facing a pressing environmental process, both Europeans and Iranians. We have decided to launch cooperation on environmental issues. This includes also a share of the European expertise in addressing air pollution, water shortages and desertification and waste management.

Sixth, on transport and in particular on aviation. We know very well that the technical assistance that the European Union provides in aviation safety can enable many of Iranian aircrafts to fly back to Europe and we are interested in making the contacts among our people work.

Seventh, as part of this constructive engagement we also agreed to have a very frank and open dialogue on human rights. This is no secret that we have some concerns in this respect. Iran’s richness lies in its people and the diversity of the people. Respect for minorities and civil freedoms as enshrined in the Iranian Constitution are important pillars of a healthy society. And we decided to work on that as well.

Finally, but not least at all, we want to make sure that the benefits of the JCPOA will benefit not only the Iranian people, and I have mentioned the areas where we are committed to do so, and further areas will come, but also that this can be translated into benefits for the wider region. Because there is no security, nor development amidst regional disorder. This is true for the Europeans, and this is true also for Iran.
So, we have a common interest in working together for the stability of the region, for translating this cooperative, constructive approach to regional dynamics and to work in particular on the priority of putting an end to the war in Syria. When we sit together in the International Syria Support Group, when we work together on some issues – I mentioned the humanitarian aid – it is fundamental for us that the recently agreed cessation of hostilities is respected, that the delivery of humanitarian aid is further facilitated, especially including in besieged areas. And, in particular, we can work on supporting the ongoing intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. We believe that Iran and the European Union can do a lot to facilitate this political process, together and in the framework of the wider support group.

Let me also mention, to conclude, the need to work together on Yemen, as the agreement on a cessation of hostilities starts. We see this as positive development that will be followed, hopefully, by talks in Kuwait on 18 April. We hope that we can work to jointly support this effort.

So, overall, let me conclude by saying that I know that you recently celebrated the New Year, Nowruz. This is, as far as I understand, the time of change, the time when you get rid of the old things and you prepare for welcoming the new things that the New Year brings. And this is a strong symbol for this visit as well. We are ready to embrace this new period in our relationship. Let me finish by stressing that this visit is not only a symbolic one, even if I am sure it is an historic one, because we want this visit to open a new chapter of concrete, substantial work that both, at institutional and people level, can deliver for our people, in Europe and in Iran. And I thank you very much.

Q&A

Q. On the facilities provided by the European Union to solve the banking relation problems between Iran and some countries

A. I thank you very much for the question because this is an issue that is of critical importance for Iran, but also for Europe. As you are seeing with the number of business delegations visiting the country, it is clear that there is a very high interest on the European side, also on the private sector side, to invest and to create partnerships in Iran. And this requires a solid banking basis to be built upon. So it is a European interest, and it is an Iranian interest, to make sure that banks, and I can talk here for European banks, engage, feel confident enough to come to Iran and facilitate and support this new economic engagement that we are opening.

We are doing all we can to reassure our financial and banking system on the fact that all the information on the new situation is provided. We have provided the banking and financial system with full guidelines, a fifty pages guideline, on the new situation after we lifted the nuclear related sanctions. And obviously we are in a situation in Europe where we cannot, for sure, force anyone to do anything, but we can reassure and I hope that this very important media coverage will help me doing so. We can reassure our financial sector and our banking system on the fact that we would welcome very much, on the European side, their engagement in Iran as this would constitute a good basis for our economic cooperation. Obviously, we are reaching out also to our partners in the world to make sure that this is the case also for others, not only the European based.

Q. On missile tests

A. Yes, I did discuss this with the Minister. I will, for sure, discuss this issue also in my following meetings today. I have stated that clearly several times, we do not see the missiles tests as a breach of the JCPOA. This does not mean that we are not concerned, on the contrary. We see this as a worrying step, and exactly because we are convinced that JCPOA opens the way for regional steps towards cooperation, a way of working on a security architecture for the region that Minister and myself, discussed in Munich a few months ago. Any step that could pass different messages in the region, that could escalate tensions is not welcomed from our side. But we do not consider the tests as a breach of the JCPOA. This does not mean that politically we are not very much concerned about that and we are encouraging to abstain from further steps.

Q. On new sanctions adopted against Iran

A. I am glad to be able to clarify this because, as many of you know very well, the European Union has lifted all the nuclear-related sanctions on the Implementation Day of 16 January. It has always been clear that other kind of sanctions and namely the human rights related sanctions stay in place. So there is no new sanction introduced. It is simply the usual rollover of the already existing sanctions, the ones that we have not lifted because they were not nuclear related. So there is nothing new in this policy, something that were all knew from the very beginning. But I would like to underline all the nuclear related, financial and economic sanctions on Iran have been lifted from the European Union side on 16 January at full.

Q. On human rights

A: On the human rights issue, the European way to human rights, having known ourselves in our history, some difficulties in the way, is double track approach: on one side, we are always firm on principles and our approach to human rights is based on probably the highest standards in the world, even compared to some of our strongest partners. And we will never compromise on that. But the second element of our approach to human rights is always engagement and dialogue.

This is the way in which we work on human rights with many interlocutors, friends and partners in the world and this is the way, we believe, in which we can support processes that, for the European themselves, in the past centuries and decades, have been difficult and complicated. So, our principles are firms, our method is always the dialogue. And if I can say one word on the obstacles, the issue we discussed just now on the banking system is among one of those. There are, rather than obstacles, I would say challenges in the implementation. It is true, we are three months after the Implementation Day, three months compared to the twelve years of negotiations is not that long time. But I understand the impatience. And this is why we are working so much together to overcome the challenges. I would not say probably obstacles.

* [Link to the video:]

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