For a political solution to the war in Syria

I write on my way back from Saudi Arabia, where I took part – for the second time in a row – in the annual summit of the Arab League. This year’s summit was even more important than the usual ones, in such a delicate moment for the war in Syria. The European Union is always opposed to the use of chemical weapons – we repeated it right after last week’s attack in the outskirts of Damascus – and we support the efforts to prevent new chemical attacks. At the same time, we know that the only possible solution to the Syrian tragedy is a political solution, not military, through the Geneva negotiations led by the United Nations. This is the position of the entire European Union – and I restated it yesterday, on behalf of all 28 countries of the Union, with this declaration. Today, in Saudi Arabia, I spoke about this – and about the other regional crises – with the UN Special Envoy Staffan del Mistura and with many of our regional interlocutors: Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the King of Jordan Abdullah II, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the Emir of Kuwait Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al Sisi, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj, the Foreign Ministers of Iraq Ibrahim al Jaafari, of Kuwait Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah​, and of Morocco Nasser Bourita, the Secretary Generals of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, and of the African Union, Moussa Faki. In just over a week, we will host – as European Union – the second Brussels Conference on the future of Syria. It will be...
A force for peace, from the Balkans to Afghanistan

A force for peace, from the Balkans to Afghanistan

I have spent this week travelling between Central Asia, the Balkans and Brussels. First I was in Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, to open the international conference for peace in Afghanistan together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev. It was an important moment, to gather international support for President Ghani’s proposal for negotiations between his government and the Taliban. I announced the European Union’s readiness to accompany this process with all our power – political, diplomatic and economic – to help rebuild the fabric of the Afghan society, its democracy, and to strengthen cooperation and connectivity between Afghanistan and its neighbours. Here is my speech at the opening of the Conference. The Tashkent Conference was also the opportunity to meet bilaterally with President Ghani (here is the press release) and President Mirziyoyev, but also with India’s Foreign Minister MJ Akbar, Pakistan’s Muhammad Asif, and the five Central Asian Foreign Ministers: with them, we worked to push forward the decision we took in our meeting in Samarkand at the end of last year. Press release here. From Uzbekistan to Belgrade, to discuss with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about the future of the dialogue with Pristina – facilitated by the European Union – after a very serious episode of tension happened in Kosovo last Monday. Here is our joint statement. Back to Brussels, on Wednesday: together with the European Commission we approved a plan to remove obstacles – both physical and bureaucratic – that make it difficult for European militaries to move within our continent. This is part of the work we have carried on over the last two years towards a Europe of defence. Press release here. In Brussels I also had the pleasure to receive Finland’s...
On my way to Central Asia, for peace in Afghanistan

On my way to Central Asia, for peace in Afghanistan

I write on my way to Tashkent – in Central Asia, Uzbekistan – where together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani I will open an international conference to help start a peace process in Afghanistan. Last week began with the Council of EU Foreign Ministers – where we worked on Syria, North Korea, the nuclear deal with Iran, Ukraine and our reaction to the Salisbury attack. Here is what I told journalists before the Foreign Affairs Council, and here the final press conference. This is the press point with the Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha: she was our guest at the Council to discuss how the European Union can keep supporting and accompanying diplomacy in the Korean peninsula. At the Council we were also joined by Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria: we prepared the second Brussels conference on Syria, that we will host in exactly one month. We will gather the international community to tackle the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the country, mobilising resources to finance aid, but also to try and relaunch the peace talks in Geneva and put an end to the war. I also discussed Syria with the International Red Cross’ Peter Maurer, on Wednesday. With the EU Foreign Ministers we also discussed our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran – a few days after the signatories to the deal once again confirmed, from Vienna, that Iran is implementing all its commitments. This was also certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, with ten reports: and on Tuesday, in Brussels, I talked about this with Yukiya Amano, the Agency’s Director. More on the Middle East: on...
A visit to Kyiv. Then at work on Syria and the Middle East

A visit to Kyiv. Then at work on Syria and the Middle East

I write at the end of a week I’ve spent in Kyiv, Strasbourg and Rome. First in Ukraine, last Sunday and Monday, to talk about the reforms the government has launched in the last years and about the war in the eastern part of the country. Today the European Union and Ukraine are closer than ever, but there is still a lot to do to tackle the issues that the people of Ukraine care the most about – starting with the fight against corruption. This is what I discussed with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, but also with civil society representatives and a group of students at Taras Shevchenko University in Kyiv – here is our conversation. The situation in Donbass and Crimea was at the core of my meetings with the Minister for temporarily occupied territories Vadym Chernysh, with the head of the OSCE monitoring mission in Donbass, with the OSCE representative to the Trilateral contact group and with the International Red Cross. We will discuss the situation in Ukraine also in our Foreign Affairs Council next Monday – here is our declaration confirming our non-recognition policy on the illegal annexation of Crimea, on the annexation’s fourth anniversary. From Eastern Europe to the Middle East: I dedicated the second part of the week mostly to the situation in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. On Tuesday I was in Strasbourg for the European Parliament’s plenary: we discussed the situation in Eastern Ghouta and Afrin, and the work we are doing not onky to bring some relief to the Syrian people, but also to restart the peace talks in Geneva. Here is my speech in the plenary and the Q&A...
For a more secure, more autonomous and stronger Europe

For a more secure, more autonomous and stronger Europe

This week marked a historic moment for European integration. Last Tuesday, for the first time in our history, we gathered a Council of Ministers in the Permanent Structured Cooperation format: with 25 Defence Ministers, we agreed on the first seventeen projects for common European defence, and on a roadmap to move towards closer cooperation on research and development. We want to make Europe more secure, more autonomous and to strengthen our defence industry. On the same day, with Defence Ministers from all 28 Member States, we met with NATO deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller, to push our cooperation even further: EU and NATO have never worked so closely, with 74 common projects already in place. We also discussed all 16 European military and civilian missions. Here is my press conference after the Council. The push for European defence and our ever stronger commitment on global challenges – starting with migration – are at the core of a new documentary film, Europe at Sea. Director Annalisa Piras followed our daily work for two years, and the movie was presented last Friday in Brussels. You can watch it here. The movie catches the gist of our daily work – that is, to always seek opportunities for cooperation. Cooperation among our Member States, with our global partners, with multilateral organisations. Such as the Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe: last Monday I met their Secretary General, Thomas Greminger, to discuss the open crises on our continent – starting with Ukraine. I will be in Kyiv today and tomorrow, in a delicate moment for the country – for the search of a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and...
A window of opportunity for the Balkans

A window of opportunity for the Balkans

I write after a week spent in Brussels – to work on the crises in the Middle East, and particularly in Syria – and in the Western Balkans, a region that is part of Europe, geographically, and can collectively become part of our European Union. This is the message that last Wednesday we brought to Pristina, Kosovo, together with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Johannes Hahn. It is time to close the wounds of the past, and take new steps to guarantee stability to the region and the whole of Europe. We discussed this with President Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, the Chairman of the national Assembly Kadri Veseli. But also with a group of young people and civil society representatives, in an open and sincere discussion – here is the video. The conversation continued the day after in Sofia, in Bulgaria, with all our six Balkan partners. In the coming months they have – and we have – a unique window of opportunity to end Europe’s divisions and unite our continent. The week had begun in Brussels with the monthly meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers. Once again we dealt with the situation in the Middle East. After the visits of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, last Monday we welcomed the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Palestine, together with the Arab League’s Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit: we discussed the situation between Israel and Palestine and how to restart the peace process. Here is my press conference with Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi. Then, the tragedy of Syria and Ghouta. After I met the ministers,...