The Balkans’ path towards the European Union

The Balkans’ path towards the European Union

I write after a week dedicated mostly to the Balkans, the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and Latin America.

Last Tuesday in Strasbourg, we presented – as European Commission – our Strategy to support the path towards the European Union of our six Balkan partners. Because the Balkans are part of our continent, of our history, and hold a place in the future of our Union. Here is the text of the Strategy, here is the press conference, and here is my remarks in the European Parliament’s plenary session. Last week, in Brussels, I had also met the three members of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Presidency – Dragan Čović, Mladen Ivanić and Bakir Izetbegović. Here is the press release.

At the plenary in Strasbourg we also discussed our support to the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA, here is my speech), after last week I had gathered in Brussels the group of international donors to Palestine. For the first time after the recent tensions, we all sat around the same table – with the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also with the United States and our Arab partners. Here is the  press conference after the meeting.

On the sides of the meeting I had the opportunity to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki, the Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi, the US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Ayman al Safadi, of Egyot, Sameh Shoukri, of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and of Norway, Ine Eriksen Søreide, and UNRWA’s General Commissioner Pierre Krähenbühl.

Last week had started with a meeting with MERCOSUR ministers: we pushed forward our negotiations towards an agreement between the European Union and Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – a deal to make our relationship with Latin America even closer. It was also the occasion to meet with  Argentina’s Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie (press release here), and Paraguay’s Eladio Ramón Loizaga Lezcano (press release). Last Tuesday, in Strasbourg, we also discussed the situation in Venezuela and the attempt to end the crisis: here is my speech to the plenary and my answers to the Member of Parliament’s questions.

A few more important things. This week I chaired Association Councils with two of our Eastern partners: on Monday it was the EU-Georgia Council, with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili (here is our press conference); and yesterday the EU-Azerbaijan Council, with Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov (press conference).

On Monday I met with two other partner from our region: Tunisia’s Foreign Minister  Khemaies Jhinaoui and the Union for the Mediterranean’s Secretary General Fahallah Sijilmassi.

On Thursday, with the Afghan Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi, we opened the first meeting of the EU-Afghanistan Joint Committee – press release here.

Finally, in Strasbourg, we also discussed the situation in Turkey: here is my speech.