Before I travel to Iran and South-East Asia

Before I travel to Iran and South-East Asia

It has been yet another intense week, before I head again to Iran, for the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani (here is the press release), and then to Manila, for a meeting of the European Union and Asia and to take part in the ASEAN Regional Forum. It will be an opportunity to discuss with our Asian and international partners the situation in the Korean peninsula – here is our statement in reaction to the latest North Korean test, last Friday. On the other side of the world, today’s vote in Venezuela risks to further escalate tensions in the country. Here is my declaration on behalf of the 28 EU members. Getting closer to home: this week, in Brussels, we took an important decision. Last Tuesday we extended the mandate for Operation Sophia, which for two years has been fighting human traffickers and saving lives in the Mediterranean. We decided to expand the operation’s tasks, with a better training of the Libyan coastguard. Here is the Council’s decision. On Monday and Tuesday, we gathered in Brussels the Association Council between the European Union and Egypt, for the first time since the beginning of the revolts in the Arab world. Here is the press conference with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. In the same days we also held a High Level Political Dialogue with Turkey: here is the final press conference with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Europe Minister Omer Celik. Egypt and Turkey are to crucial partners to tackle the main crises in the Middle East and North Africa: together we mostly discussed the war in Syria, the tensions in Jerusalem, the Gulf crisis – also in light...
Back from Kuwait

Back from Kuwait

I write after coming back from Kuwait, where I brought the European Union’s support to the mediation carried on by the Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to end the crisis between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, on one side, and Qatar on the other. In my meetings with the Emir, with Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah and the Emir’s emissary, Mohammad Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, we agreed on the need to end the crisis through dialogue as soon as possible, and we discussed how the European Union can further support this goal. This is something I will also discuss tonight and tomorrow in Brussels with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. In Kuwait I also talked about our common work to support the reconstruction of the Iraqi areas liberated from Daesh, about regional crises starting with Syria, and about our bilateral ties. Here is the press release on the visit. The visit to Kuwait concluded a week that I had spent in Europe, in Brussels, Zagreb and Athens. In Athens, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, we discussed the European Union’s support to Greece after the quake in Kos, but also how to relaunch the Cyprus peace talks, and our relations with Turkey, ahead of the EU-Turkey dialogue we will hold in Brussels this week. Here is the video of my meeting with Tsipras. In Zabgreb – during my meetings with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burićand Defence Minister Damir Krstičević – we mostly dealt with the situation in the Balkans, to keep the region advancing on its path towards the European Union, and with European defence. Here...

Speech at the Hessian Peace Prize award ceremony

Check against delivery I would like to start by thanking you, Mr President [Mr Norbert Kartmann, President of the Hessian Parliament], Madam Minister [Ms Lucia Puttrich, Minister of European and Federal Affairs of the State of Hessen], all of you for your kind words, but most of all for this honour. I am also very thankful that you have come to Brussels for this ceremony – as you have highlighted this is the first time that this happens and I am very much aware of the fact that it does is not only a courtesy to myself, which I appreciate, but I know that this is first and foremost a tribute to the European Union, as you said Madam Minister, as a force for peace in our very difficult times. Two years after the deal with Iran [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] was signed, we see and we breathe a very different atmosphere in global affairs and in these days receiving this prize is quite significant. It is not always easy to find or to build the same spirit of collective responsibility that made the Iran deal possible. The work to achieve win-win solutions requires patience, perseverance, as you said, sometimes even stubbornness and a lot, a lot of strength. Many are tempted in these times to seek unilateral action, shortcut. Everyone seems to want to show their strength, instead of showing their wisdom. As if they were not the same. As if wisdom was not the biggest strength you can show, the most difficult to achieve, the most difficult to preserve and also the most difficult to share....