Strong partnerships for difficult times. At work for Korea and Iran

Strong partnerships for difficult times. At work for Korea and Iran

I write after one week of official visits to Asia and Oceania, starting in Singapore (I already wrote about it here) then in South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. My visit to South Korea started at the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas. The European Union continues to accompany the ongoing negotiations, both on inter-Korean reconciliation and on the full de-nuclearisation of the peninsula. With Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa, the Minister of Unification Cho Myung-gyun and the director of intelligence Suh Hoon we discussed how to deepen and expand our support to the talks in this important and delicate moment, under President Moon’s and his government’s leadership. We also discussed the excellent cooperation among our countries, and how to fully explore our free trade agreement’s potential. Here is the press release, and here is the press conference. While I was in Korea, on August 6th, the new US sanctions against Iran entered into force, after the United States’ decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal’s implementation. In this moment, as we work to solve North Korea’s nuclear issue, it is essential not to open another nuclear crisis with Iran – a crisis we closed in 2015 after twelve years of difficult negotiations, reaching a deal that has so far been fully implemented as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency in eleven reports. For us Europeans, as for the rest of the international community, preserving this deal is a vital matter of security and nuclear non-proliferation. So our response has been immediate: we activated the “blocking statute” protecting European firms from the extraterritorial effects of US...
A visit to Asia-Pacific: so distant, so close

A visit to Asia-Pacific: so distant, so close

I write as I travel from Singapore to Seoul, the first two stops of an official visit to Asia-Pacific: I will then head to New Zealand and Australia. This region is geographically distant from Europe, but it is crucial to our security and our economy, and we have developed great cooperation on all the main global issues. During the last two days I was in Singapore for the annual meeting of South-East Asia’s countries, for the ASEAN regional forum, and for the European Union-ASEAN ministerial meeting. South-East Asia is literally at the other side of the world. But we share the same vision of international relations, of multilateralism, of trade, of preventing radicalisation and fighting terrorism, of the fight against climate change –just to mention the main files in our cooperation, which is getting closer and closer (here is an article about it on EUobserver). We work side by side with our partners in Asia-Pacific to accompany the negotiations to de-nuclearise the Korean peninsula. We are striking trade deals with the main regional economies, to protect our firms and create new opportunities. In our globalised world, Asia’s peace, security and economic growth are essential for Europe too. Here is my speech opening the EU-ASEAN meeting, here is my conversation with students from the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and here is my interview to Singapore’s Business Times. I was welcomed to Singapore by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. With the Foreign Ministers of China, Wang Yi, and of Japan, Taro Kono, we discussed how to strengthen even further our bilateral cooperation after the two summits we just held...
In a confused world, a strong and reliable Europe

In a confused world, a strong and reliable Europe

I write at the end of a week when the European Union confirmed its role as a strong and reliable partner, in a moment of global confusion. We know who our friends and partners are, we know the European people’s interests, we believe in the power of multilateral diplomacy and dialogue: I spoke about this at the beginning of the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday in Brussels, here is the video. The work done this week demonstrates very clearly the European Union’s global role. From diplomacy to security and trade. We signed the largest ever free trade agreement in history, to strengthen our economy thanks to free and fair trade with Japan. We reconfirmed our cooperation with China in an important Summit. At the beginning of August I will be in Asia-Pacific to meet our regional partners, with a special focus on the situation in Korea. Last Monday and Tuesday we welcomed to Brussels the Foreign Ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean, for a European Union-CELAC ministerial meeting. We share interests and values with them: in this confused moment in the history of the world, we know we stand on the same side – the side of a more inclusive economic growth, multilateralism, international cooperation, the fight against climate change, and the promotion of human rights. Here is my speech opening the meeting, here the press conference and the final communique, here the award ceremony for some civil society organisations, here the meetings with the Pacific Alliance and the group of Caribbean countries, here my statement on the situation in Nicaragua. On Wednesday I gathered again in Brussels the delegations of Serbia and Kosovo, led by...
Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

I write after coming back from Libya, where we have just re-established a direct European Union’s presence: we have re-opened our Embassy and our mission to help Libyans control their borders. This is the result of years of common work with the Libyans and the United Nations: we have accompanied negotiations to end the crisis in the country, we have trained the Libyan coastguard through Operation Sophia, we have supported the Libyan people creating jobs and investing in education and healthcare, and we have freed thirty thousand migrants from detention centres in the country. Yesterday in Tripoli I met with Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj and Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala: we discussed the upcoming election and new European projects in the country. I met with the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame and the representatives of all UN agencies in the capital, but also with our Embassy’s staff, our EUBAM mission, and Libyans who manage projects financed by the European Union. Here is a press release, here my words in front of cameras in Tripoli. This week I also met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, the Union for the Mediterranean’s new Secretary General Nasser Kamel, and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah. It was also the week of the NATO Summit in Brussels, where we agreed on the next steps in the common work we are doing for Europe’s security – the EU and NATO together (here is our new EU-NATO Joint Declaration). At the Summit we discussed Afghanistan – and I met again with President Ashraf Ghani, press release here – and our common work against the terrorists...
A Vienna, per salvare l’accordo con l’Iran

A Vienna, per salvare l’accordo con l’Iran

Scrivo di ritorno da Vienna, dove ho riunito per la prima volta a livello ministeriale la Commissione che sovrintende al rispetto dell’accordo nucleare con l’Iran. Insieme con i ministri degli Esteri dell’Iran Javad Zarif, della Francia Jean-Yves Le Drian, della Germania Heiko Maas, della Russia Sergei Lavrov, della Cina Wang Yi e al sottosegretario britannico Alistair Burt, abbiamo discusso di un pacchetto corposo di misure per preservare l’accordo, dopo la decisione degli Stati Uniti di ritirarsi unilateralmente dall’intesa. Oltre ad avere ribadito la scelta politica di continuare ad attuare l’accordo, di interesse strategico per la sicurezza dell’Unione europea e del mondo, abbiamo concordato le nostre linee di azione per mantenere le esportazioni di petrolio e gas dall’Iran, tenere aperti i canali finanziari così come i rapporti commerciali, e per sostenere gli imprenditori, soprattutto piccoli e medi, che investono in Iran. Qui il testo che abbiamo adottato nel corso della ministeriale e che ho letto alla stampa al termine della riunione. Prima di presiedere la Commissione, ho avuto un lungo colloquio con Zarif per discutere dello stato di attuazione dell’accordo che, secondo l’Agenzia atomica dell’Onu (Aiea), l’Iran sta pienamente rispettando. La riunione è stata anche l’occasione di incontri bilaterali con il ministro russo Sergei Lavrov, con cui abbiamo parlato anche di Ucraina, Siria e Balcani, e con il ministro degli Esteri e consigliere di Stato cinese Wang Yi, con il quale abbiamo fatto un punto sui nostri rapporti bilaterali, in vista del summit tra Unione europea e Cina di metà luglio. La settimana era cominciata a Roma, dove ho visitato il quartiere generale di Operazione Sophia, l’operazione militare europea nel...
At the European Council on migration, the Balkans and defence

At the European Council on migration, the Balkans and defence

I write after a long-anticipated European Council, particularly in Italy, because of sensitivity of the issues on the agenda – starting with migration. Migration is a historic phenomenon that no country can manage alone. We need a shared and consensual work, both inside and outside Europe’s borders. And this is what we do every day, not just on the European Council’s days (and nights). This week for instance I met again with Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maïga (press release here). With the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Director General of the International Organisation for Migration, William Swing, we have started to discuss a possible common initiative for disembarkation points on the Mediterranean shores, managed by the United Nations with European support. This is something we discussed at the European Council, and we will continue to work with Grandi and with the new IOM director Antonio Vitorino (here is the press release on my phone conversation with Grandi and Swing, here I congratulate Vitorino on his appointment). At the European Council we also discussed another pillar of the Union’s external action: the work to make our partners in the Balkans join the European Union. The 28 leaders have confirmed the decision to open negotiation in 2019 with Albania and the future Republic of North Macedonia – as it will be called. I wrote about it in these two op-eds (one on Albania, one on the future North Macedonia), and here is a conversation with journalists on the same topic. I also put on the table of the European Council the work we have done on European...