UNITED NATIONS - The European Union foreign policy chief Tuesday sought to reassure the international community that the bloc remains strong, despite Britain’s planned departure and anxiety caused by elections in several member states.
In her annual briefing to the United Nations Security Council, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said the bloc marks its 60th birthday, about to lose member Britain but as strong as ever.
“Indeed, our British friends have decided to leave us – which is very sad for all of us – but life goes on and the European Union as well goes on,” she told the council. “Since the U.K. referendum last year, we Europeans have recommitted to being the strong and united power that our citizens and our partners need and deserve.”
Asked by reporters about the outcome of the presidential election in France on Sunday, when the right-wing nationalist candidate was soundly defeated by the centrist, pro-Europe one, she said there has been a similar pattern in recent European elections, including in the Netherlands and Austria.
“It is clear to me that Europeans have now focused on what there is to lose and on the fact that what can sound attractive in an electoral speech might become scary if it turns reality,” Mogherini said. “When they face the reality of political choices - as they do through elections - they know what to choose,” she said.
Mogherini said the 28-nation bloc is committed to finding a political settlement to the war in Syria through U.N.-led intra-Syrian peace talks, which are scheduled to resume next week in Geneva.
She also had pointed messages for the Trump administration on the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal - don’t withdraw from them.
As the White House debates whether to stay in the Paris climate accord and honor the Obama administration’s commitment to drastically reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, Mogherini stressed that Europe expects Washington to remain committed to the agreement.
“But 195 countries have signed the deal on climate change, and there will be 195 different paths to meeting the Paris goals and honoring the agreement,” she noted. “I am sure there is room for the U.S. administration to find its own path, being part of what the world has agreed together and finding its own way to do so.”
On the 2015 deal that aims to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and which U.S. President Donald Trump has called “terrible” and said should be torn up, Mogherini said it has made the Middle East, Europe and the world more secure.
“World powers negotiated the deal, but the agreement was immediately ratified by the Security Council, and the deal now belongs to the entire international community,” she said. She added that the EU supports full implementation and monitoring of the agreement.
“We look forward to deepened cooperation with the EU to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities and to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions,” U.S. envoy Nikki Haley told the council. “The EU can and should do more to underscore to Iran that its destabilizing actions in the region – including support for extremist and terrorist groups - must cease.”
Haley also called for stepped up EU action to deter North Korea from its nuclear path, and for more rigorous sanctions on Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons.