A new start with Moldova

A new start with Moldova

I write at the end of a week that I dedicated mostly to Moldova, but also to a first look back at these five years of work. On Monday I chaired the Association Council with Moldova in Brussels, together with Prime Minister Maia Sandu – press conference here. Over the last months, the Moldovan government has launched an ambitious reform process, and we – as the European Union – have decided to give our full support to this new phase. To confirm this new beginning in our relationship, on Thursday I travelled to Chisinau where I met the Prime Minister but also President Igor Dodon and Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu. Here is the press conference in Chisinau. On Friday, back in Brussels, I was at the annual conference of the EU Institute for Security Studies: it was the occasion to look back at these five years of work, particularly at our commitment to protect the multilateral system and the progress on European defence. Here is my speech. On Friday I also spoke with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, to discuss Turkey’s activities off the island’s shores. Press release...
At the UN General Assembly: a global network for multilateralism

At the UN General Assembly: a global network for multilateralism

I write after coming back from the United Nations’ General Assembly – my last one as High Representative: during these five years we strengthened cooperation between the European Union and the UN like never before, and we made the EU a global point of reference for all those who believe that our world must be governed together, joining forces, instead of going for unilateral approaches that do not solve our problems. As every year, we dealt with the great crises of our times – from our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, to the compromise reached by the Syrian regime and opposition on a “constitutional committee”; from the attempt to relaunch a political negotiation in Libya, to the work for Venezuela with the Contact Group and the international conference we just announced to support Venezuelan refugees. Our approach has been clear: we have always tried to bring all relevant actors to the table, and to keep the United Nations at the core of our work. This is the best way to protect and to strengthen the multilateral system, with action not just words.   New energy for multilateralism I discussed this approach with Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, at the beginning of the General Assembly (press release here). And most importantly, we put this approach in practice throughout the week. This was the case, for instance, with the joint task force of the European Union, the African Union and the UN agencies, thanks to which more than fifty thousand migrants have been transferred from Libya. Or with the new partnership that we have just created with...
Back to Latin America: Cuba, Mexico and Colombia

Back to Latin America: Cuba, Mexico and Colombia

I write after coming back from Latin America, for a three-fold visit to Cuba, Mexico and Colombia. My first stop was in Cuba, on the occasion of the “EU-Cuba Joint Council” – that is, our annual opportunity for discussion with Cuban authorities, which we created with the historic 2016 deal between the European Union and Cuba. My visit started with a meeting with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, before the Joint Council: we discussed how to accompany the modernisation of the Cuban economy, human rights, multilateralism and climate change, but also how to protect our firms investing in Cuba from the impact of American sanctions. Here are my remarks at the Joint Council, here is the press conference. Then I met with President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and later with representatives of civil society and of European businesses working in Cuba. Finally, I visited the Santa Clara Convent and the Institute of Arts – two important places for the Cuban culture and economy, which will be renewed thanks to the European Union’s support. From Havana to Mexico City, for my second visit since the beginning of my mandate – the first since the new government was sworn in. In my meeting with Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard we discussed our common commitment to promoting a multilateral and cooperative global governance, but also how to conclude negotiations on a new agreement between the EU and Mexico. It is not “just” a free trade agreement, but a deal of a new generation that protects our workers and the environment, and strengthens our political cooperation. I also talked about multilateralism and cooperation with Mexico in a...
My last Ambassadors’ Conference, and a new “Erasmus” on religion in society

My last Ambassadors’ Conference, and a new “Erasmus” on religion in society

I write from Havana, where I arrived for the second meeting of the “Joint Council” that we created with the historic 2016 cooperation agreement between the European Union and Cuba. In the coming days I will head from Cuba to Mexico and Colombia, more details here. I spent the week that just ended in Brussels, where we gathered – like every year – all the Ambassadors of the European Union in the world. On Monday I opened my last Ambassadors’ Conference recalling the results of these five years – from European defence to our support to multilateralism, from a new partnership with Africa to the Balkans’ path towards the EU: here is my speech. In the following days I welcomed to the Conference Ursula von der Leyen  and Charles Michel, who will lead the Commission and the Council for the next five years. On Friday, still in Brussels, I announced a new European initiative, an “Erasmus” for civil society activists working on faith and social inclusions. All around the world there are so many amazing stories of respect and peaceful coexistence among communities of different faith. Yet too often these stories go unheard, as the media’s and public opinion’s attention tends to focus on tensions and clashes. With this new “Global Exchange on Religion in Society” we want to give voice to these success stories, connecting and empowering the bridge-builders and change-makers. Here is my speech and here are more details on the new initiative. Over the week I also met with Moldova’s President Igor Dodon (press release here) and I spoke with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, particularly...
European defence and Iran deal, the work goes on

European defence and Iran deal, the work goes on

I write at the end of a week spent in Helsinki with the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the Union. With the Defence Ministers we worked on three crucial issues for our security. For the first time ever, we discussed together how climate change is becoming a threat to our common security – to tackle natural disasters, the conflicts sparked by climate change, and too reduce the environmental impact of our defence systems. Second, we dealt again with cyber-security and how to govern the use of artificial intelligence in weapon systems, together with the tech leaders that I gathered in our Global Tech Panel. And third, we also talked about coordinating our Member States’ naval presence in crisis theatres or in areas of strategic interest for Europe – with Coordinated Maritime Presences. Finally, with the Defence and Foreign Ministers together, we talked hybrid threats and our response to them. The path towards greater European cooperation on defence continues. Here is the final press conference and here is what I told journalists before the meeting. On Thursday and Friday the work went on with Foreign Ministers. We worked on the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and in the Gulf, and on how to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran – including in a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the UK which I called in the margins of the main meeting. We also dealt with the Arctic and the situation in Hong Kong. Then a session with our six partners in the Balkans, to discuss how to step up cooperation and integration in this crucial part...
From South-East Asia to Africa, for peace in Mozambique

From South-East Asia to Africa, for peace in Mozambique

I write at the end of a ten-day trip that led me to South-East Asia and Mozambique, for the signature of a peace agreement ending decades of war. On August 1st I arrived to Thailand, to take part – for the fifth time in five years – to the meeting between the European Union and the organisation of South-East Asian countries (ASEAN) and to the Regional Forum organised by ASEAN. In these five years the European Union and ASEAN have cooperated more intensely than ever before – on our common security, on the great global crises, on free and fair trade, on climate change. Here are my remarks at the meeting between EU and ASEAN. ASEAN’s Regional Forum was the opportunity to meet partners from all around the world: on top of the Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, I met with the Foreign Minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, U Kyaw Tin of Myanmar, Prak Sokhonn of Cambodia, Wang Yi of China, Taro Kono of Japan, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of India, Kang Kyung-wha of the Republic of Korea, Winston Peters of New Zealand, and Chrystia Freeland of Canada. From Thailand to Vietnam. With Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich, we concluded two agreements for Vietnam’s participation in our civilian and military missions and for cooperation on peacekeeping – here is the press conference. In Hanoi I also met the Parliament’s Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân and a group of students from the Erasmus Mundus programme – who are Europe’s best ambassadors in the world (video here). Then to Mozambique, for a...