UN General Assembly, day 4: between Syria and Palestine, Afghanistan and the Balkans

UN General Assembly, day 4: between Syria and Palestine, Afghanistan and the Balkans

I write after another full day at the United Nations, in a General Assembly that is dealing with the great global issue of migrants and refugees, while working to address the crises that surround Europe. Starting with Syria.

Today another meeting of the International Syria Support Group is in the agenda, and yesterday we worked to prepare the event. I spoke at length about Syria with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov (here is my statement on the meeting), and with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif. With him I also prepared the ministerial meeting I will chair today, to take stock of the implementation of the nuclear deal we reached a year ago together with the US, Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany (here is the statement).

The most ancient outstanding issue of the Middle East, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, was at the centre of a long meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the coming days we will gather the Middle East Quartet – where the European Union sits together with the United Nations, the United States and Russia – to shake life back into the two-State perspective, and to encourage concrete steps in this direction.

Then Afghanistan, which is still struggling to find stability after decades of war. Afghanistan will be the focus of a big conference we are organising in Brussels in the first days of October: this is what I discussed yesterday with Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.

But the UN General Assembly is also the opportunity to tackle great global issues – such as the fight against terrorism and radicalisation, which we discussed at the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (here is the video of my speech). We also renewed our commitment to disarmament in the ministerial meeting on the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (video).

Migration, once again, was discussed in an event organised at the UN by Italy and the Netherlands. There I recalled the European Union’s action to tackle both the emergency and the root causes of an epoch-making phenomenon, with the migration compacts and the massive investment plan we have just launched. Our cooperation on migrations is particularly strong with Italy, which launched the idea of migration compacts that has now been embraced by so many European countries (my speech is here).

At the end of the day, after a number of bilateral meetings (from the President of Mozambique to the Prime Minister of Georgia, to the Foreign Ministers of Mexico and Brazil), I met with the six Foreign Ministers of Balkan countries. All of them are now on the path towards European integration. We discussed how to step up our cooperation, not only on the membership process but on the many issues calling for a joint action on a regional level – from counter-terrorism to managing the refugees” flows.

More on the UN General Assembly week:
Day 1: China and Syria
Day 2: At the Summit on migrations and the Clinton Global Initiative
Day 3: Inspiration from Colombia, at work for Syria and Libya