I write after coming back from New York, where just like every year I took part in the the United Nations’ General Assembly ministerial week. It is a moment to show the European Union’s practical support to the multilateral system and the United Nations – the essential pivot towards peaceful solutions to today’s crises. It was an intense week, difficult at times, with many important achievements but also some tough moments. Starting with the tensions between the United States and Iran.
Defending Iran deal
On Wednesday night I chaired the meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Iran and the six countries that, two years ago, negotiated the deal on Iran’s nuclear program – the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK. Together we confirmed that Iran is fulfilling the agreements, as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified eight times. It is up to the IAEA to verify that all nuclear commitments are being implemented: this is what the deal states, together with a Resolution by the UN Security Council. For this reason, the deal belongs to the whole world, not just to one or two countries, and the European Union will do everything in our power to guarantee the deal is fully implemented by all. This is the message I delivered in my meetings with the Vice-President of the United States Mike Pence, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov. Here is my press conference on Iran, here my interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
For global non-proliferation
In a moment when tension with North Korea continue, it would make no sense to dismantle a non-proliferation deal that is working and delivering. On the contrary, we should try with all our means to strengthen the international system of rules and controls on non-proliferation. This was my message, on behalf of the European Union, at the meeting of the Comprehensive nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation – here is my speech. The “European way” to crisis solution is made of diplomacy, of sanctions sometimes, but we will never ever talk about “destroying” a whole country: this is what I said at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, in a conversation with Admiral Mike Mullen (here is the video). And North Korea was also at the centre of my meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
A “Brussels process” for Syria
In New York we demonstrated once again that the European Union is an indispensable partner towards a peaceful solution to the crises afflicting our world. On Syria, for instance: on Thursday evening, we gathered the countries and organisations that last April participated in the Brussels’ Conference on the future of Syria. With them I announced a new European Union’s initiative to support the peace talks in Geneva, with a second Brussels Conference next spring, and to help the Syrian people in the areas where the fighting has stopped. A “Brussels process” to accompany the Geneva process and the Astana process, pooling all our resources in support of peace – here are all the details.
I also discussed Syria in a ministerial meeting called by the United States, and in my bilaterals with Tillerson and Lavrov, with Foreign Ministers Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani of Qatar, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Sameh Shoukri of Egypt, Nasser Judeh of Jordan, Gebran Bassil of Lebanon, and with the Secretary General of the Arab League Aboul Gheit. Here is my interview with Sky News Arabia on Syria and Iran.
With our African partners
We worked a lot also with our African partners: on Wednesday evening, with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Chairman of the African Union’s Commission Moussa Faki, we agreed to launch a trilateral cooperation between the UN, the European Union and the African Union. Together with Guterres and President Emmanuel Macron of France we had an important meeting with the Presidents of G5 Sahel, then two ministerial meetings on Mali and Somalia. Great attention went to Libya – with a summit organised by Guterres (here is my speech at the summit), a meeting of the Libya Quartet (formed by the UN, the EU, the African Union and the Arab League), and a meeting I organised among the new UN Envoy Ghassan Salameh and the 28 EU Foreign Ministers (here is the video of my doorstep with the press).
Israel and Palestine: preserve the perspective of two States
It was also an important week to work on the situation between Israel and Palestine. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the group of donors for Palestine, gathered on Monday to discuss how to preserve the two-state solution on the ground: here is what I told them. I met once again Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the White House’s Middle East team – Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt – to coordinate the EU’s and the American position.
The Balkans’ path towards the European Union
Coming even closer to the European Union, we had two important meetings on the Balkans: the first was with the Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, to carry on the work and open a new phase in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (press release here). Then came the dinner with all our six partners in the Western Balkans: we confirmed the determination to advance the reforms that have already begun, and to make their path towards the European Union irreversible (here is the press release).
With our Latin American friends
And more: Latin America, a continent that is far away from us geographically, but incredibly close for culture and for our ties. We focused in particular on the crisis in Venezuela, which was discussed in almost all meetings, and particularly in my rendez-vous with Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. With the Foreign Minister of El Salvador Hugo Martinez, who is the “pro tempore” President of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), we confirmed our resolve to continue cooperating as closely as possible, and to hold our summit in 2018: press release here. It was a pleasure to meet again with the President of Colombia, Nobel Laureate Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, Foreign Ministers Luis Videgaray Caso of Mexico, Jorge Faurie of Argentina, and Bruno Rodriguez of Cuba.
Fighting violence against women
Another important moment was the launch of a new initiative by the European Union and the UN to fight violence against women – with 500 million euros of EU investment and an innovative approach – video here. We also worked to help our youth find their place in our societies, and we announced that we will soon host in Brussels 44 young European leaders to contribute to the UN’s work on “youth, peace and security” (my speech is here, minute 1:09:40). Together with Italy we sponsored a beautiful initiative to protect cultural heritage during conflicts: there I announced that we will post cultural heritage protection experts in our European military and civilian missions (here is the video).
Finally, plenty of bilateral meetings: from the Foreign Minister of Algeria Abdelkader Messahel to Morocco’s Naser Bourita, from the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. With Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland we met on the day the EU-Canada trade agreement entered into force – video here.
Thirty bilateral meeting, twenty other meetings and events: this is perhaps the most intense week of the year, an essential moment for the entire international community. Essential to confirm that the United Nations are the pivot of the international system, the only alternative to chaos and to the idea that “might makes right”, a fundamental tool to promote peace and security around the world.