Q. A follow-up on the Minsk Protocol: did you express a commitment by the Europeans to keep sanctions on Russia and that you saw that it was important to stay there until Russia makes a move on Ukraine? What was your discussion on Iran: there is a talk here that they could rip it up, and you have seen the rhetoric the actions against Iran lately. Does that concern you?
On Minsk, I think I stated this very clearly. We agreed that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements is a must and that sanctions are linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. And that we would be not only happy but actively supporting a full implementation of the Minsk agreements and the lifting of the sanctions if this happens, which you can also see the other way round: not happening until the Minsk agreements are implemented fully.
On Iran, this was extremely important for me. This was one of the objectives of my visit because, as you know, in this respect on the nuclear deal I do not only have the responsibility to represent the European position, but also I am still chairing the Joint Commission overviewing the implementation of the nuclear agreement, so I also have a responsibility towards Russia, China and the UN system as this has been endorsed by a UN Security Council Resolution. I always made clear from the very beginning: this is not a bilateral agreement, this is not even an agreement between Iran and some countries; this is belonging now to the international community as a whole. So for me, it was extremely important to stress the need to stick to the full implementation of the nuclear deal, as we see is happening now since one year. Four times the IAEA has certified the full implementation of the Iranians' nuclear commitments. So the deal is working and we need to preserve it this way and I was reassured by what I heard in my meetings of the intention to stick to the full and strict implementation of the agreement in its parts. This I think is a very important statement, and I would expect obviously that this would be consistently followed up.
Q. There are some that are reading the latest actions by the Trump administration as aimed at pushing Iran to leave the deal. Did you get assurances on this?
There are three separate issues here, and I would like to be very clear on that. First, common understanding and, for us, a must that the nuclear agreement is fully implemented in all its parts and by all sides. Second, there are issues that are outside the nuclear deal, that are related to missile tests, that are related to terrorist activities, that are related to human rights where the European Union has restrictions and sanctions in place, and we also discussed that. The third element is that the European Union and its Member States, continue and will continue, as the nuclear deal is implemented, to have open channels with Iran. We have several issues where we have started cooperation. I myself have visited Tehran several times with different colleagues. We have started fruitful cooperation and we will continue to do that, be it economic cooperation, be it scientific cooperation, be it dialogue on human rights, be it common work we do on migration, on energy. You name it. This European engagement with Iran will continue. Then there are things that are difficult to discuss with Iran even for us. That is clear. I mentioned human rights issues, I mentioned some of the regional crises where for sure we don't see in the same manner, but we believe in engagement and the European way to diplomacy is to talk and to try to work together even when you don't agree, and this will continue.
Q. Did you discourage the Trump administration from exerting additional pressure on their 'number two issues' for fear of the Iranians losing trust in the nuclear agreement?
No. As I said, in the European Union we do have sanctions still in place for non-nuclear-related issues. So we are doing that. It would be very strange for me to discourage that. In the European Union we are not introducing additional sanctions.
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It's not something new the fact that European policy towards Iran is different to the US one. We have political and economic relations with Iran; that was not the case also with the previous US administration. We have different policies – the Europeans have different relations with Iran. And for us it's a priority to continue investing in Iran's engagement with us, with the international community – again, on issues where we can work together, on issues where it's more difficult. But the Europeans will continue to follow this engagement policy. That has to be very clear.