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Ashton: 'We've made significant progress'

The EU's foreign policy chief discusses the challenges facing her and the EU's role in conflicts around the world.

Last updated: 18 Jan 2014 14:38
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She is one of the leading diplomats in the world right now. From the Iran nuclear deal to events in Egypt and earlier, bringing Serbia and Kosovo together, Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, is travelling around the world, mediating in crises and advocating for Europe's interests on the international stage.

I think that one of the jobs in public life is always to make sure that you know what it is you ought to do and to prioritise the things where you think you can be most effective.

Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief

Baroness Ashton is a British Labour politician who in 2009, became the first person to take on the role of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that was created by the Treaty of Lisbon. As High Representative, Ashton serves as the EU's foreign policy chief.

Some say she has been a surprisingly effective official. Others complain that she is personifying everything that is wrong with the European Union: not forceful enough, vague and a waste of money, even questioning her salary, reportedly one of the highest in the EU bureaucracy.

Perhaps sensing some of that criticism, she rarely gives extended interviews. But Catherine Ashton sat down with Al Jazeera to talk about the EU's interests in resolving the Syrian crisis and the EU's role in conflicts around the world.

Speaking about expectations in Syria and the role of President Bashar al-Assad, she says: "The most important thing is to stop the fighting .... If you look at what has happened at Geneva I, it was very clear that this was about a process leading to transition, and transition means change. There is no question in the eyes of the European Union that there needs to be a different person at the helm of this country, there needs to be a new government in place and that the situation needs to move forward with that very much in mind." 

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; and Monday: 1430. 

 Watch more Talk to Al Jazeera

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