Between Lebanon and the Balkans. And a message to our EU missions

Between Lebanon and the Balkans. And a message to our EU missions

This week I went back to Lebanon, for the first international visit since Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Beirut. I carried with me a message of strong support to Lebanon, to the country’s autonomy and independence, to its institutions and its citizens. This is what I discussed with President Michel Aoun, with Hariri, with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and the speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, together with the situation in Jerusalem and the war in Syria. Here is what I told journalists after my meeting with Bassil, here is the press conference with Hariri. On Monday evening, in Brussels, I hosted the prime ministers of our six partners in the Balkans. 2018 will be a crucial year for their path towards the European Union: it is the opportunity to make this path irreversible, pushing forward those reforms – from justice to the economy – that their citizens are asking for. Here is the press release on our meeting. On Monday, on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year greetings, I also met via video conference our sixteen military and civilian missions – men and women who serve far from home, but contribute directly to the security of all...

Federica Mogherini hosted a working dinner with the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, hosted tonight an informal gathering with the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans to discuss the situation in the region and in particular the opportunities to advance the region’s European Union integration in 2018. Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdić, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj, Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković and Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić reiterated their full commitment to continuing to work for the European Union integration process. As clearly confirmed this year, including by the European Council in March and by President Juncker in his September State of the Union address, 2018 will provide a unique opportunity for the region to make irreversible steps forward in its EU integration, provided that the utmost priority is given to the necessary reforms, in particular on rule of law, justice and fundamental rights. With a renewed dynamic in the EU’s enlargement policy and a chance to make important progress throughout the region, the High Representative underlined the need for all Western Balkans partners to accelerate essential reforms to deliver on their citizens’ expectations and take concrete steps towards EU integration. The participants underlined their deep determination and interest in strengthening cooperation and good neighbourly relations and in promoting regional understanding. In this context, the importance of the ongoing discussions between Presidents Hashim Thaçi and Aleksandar Vučić to advance in the EU-facilitated dialogue for normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo was...
Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

I write after a historic week for the European Union. Last Monday, with the Foreign Ministers of the Union, we officially launched a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence among 25 European Member States: it is a binding commitment to invest together, to strengthen our defence industry together, to act together for peace and security. We start with 17 projects for practical cooperation – I have talked about it at the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg. On Thursday, at the European Council, we celebrated this success with the heads of State and government. But the work has already restarted: on Wednesday night I was with Javier Solana and Joschka Fischer – two great Europeans who have worked a lot to relaunch our Union on foreign and defence policy – and I presented six ideas on the next steps for European defence. Now we have the right tools, and we have a duty to explore their potential at full. Here is my speech. On Friday, then, I had the pleasure to go back to NATO headquarters together with the people who work with me everyday, as guests of Jens Stoltenberg and his team. It was a way to show that a stronger European defence goes hand in hand with a stronger cooperation between the European Union and NATO. But last week we didn’t only work on defence. Last Monday I welcomed to Brussels the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, together with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers. I was the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister in Brussels in over twenty years: today Israel and the European Union are tied by a strong friendship, which allows us to be very open about our disagreements. On Jerusalem,...