Back to Saudi Arabia (with a good story of strong women)

Back to Saudi Arabia (with a good story of strong women)

I write as I get back from Jeddah, for my second bilateral visit to Saudi Arabia: I spent two days in political meetings and had a great rendez-vous with a group of women working in politics, in business and in the media. Just days before the beginning of Ramadan – when millions of worshippers will gather to the nearby city of Mecca – I had a long conversation with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al Jubeir. We agreed on the need to reinforce our bilateral cooperation on the economy, to work together against terrorism and on some of the current crises in the area, particularly on Syria, Yemen and Libya. We also decided to keep an open channel for dialogue on some of the issue the European Union cares the most about, including human rights, anti-radicalisation policies, the promotion of rights and opportunities for women. (Here is my press conference with al Jubeir). Yesterday I also had the opportunity to see Abdullatif al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which had gathered in Jeddah. Next July Brussels will host the EU/GCC Ministerial meeting, and we are already at work to strengthen our economic and political cooperation, particularly on all regional crises. During all my official visits I always try to meet representatives of the civil society, and I did the same in Saudi Arabia. These are precious exchanges to understand each country’s reality – and to look beyond stereotypes. This is what happened today during a meeting at Jeddah’s Chamber of Commerce, with Vice-president Lama Suleiman. She is the first woman to be appointed to that post. With her were women lawyers and journalists, women who work in...
In Mexico and Colombia, with some good news

In Mexico and Colombia, with some good news

I am on my way back from Bogota, where I conveyed all the European Union’s support – both political and financial – to the ongoing peace process in Colombia. One of the world’s longest-lasting conflicts could come to an end in the coming weeks, as the talks with Farc in Havana get to their final stage. In Colombia I had the opportunity to meet a group of children who have been victims of the guerrilla and of criminal gangs. This kind of meetings truly reveals the meaning of our work. Our support to a big number of projects actually improves a lot of people’s lives – starting with the de-mining of the world’s most mined land after Afghanistan. And beyond that, we work with politicians and diplomats to put an end to the conflict. This is what I discussed yesterday with President Juan Manuel Santos, Foregin Minister María Ángela Holguín, and Post-Conflict Minister Rafael Pardo. We are already working on projects for reconciliation and the country’s renaissance. Here is my press conference at the end of the visit. Before Colombia, my sixth visit to Latin America as the Union’s High Representative had led me to Mexico. There I met with President Enrique Peña Nieto, Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, and I could announce the beginning of negotiations towards a new EU-Mexico bilateral agreement. With Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong we kicked off the EU-Mexico dialogue on security and justice. In Mexico City I also met with a good number of civil society organisations, which are particularly engaged with the protection of human rights. And I brought Europe’s voice at the assembly of Eclac, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean:...