From the Western Balkans Summit to Central Asia, from Ukraine to the Sahel

From the Western Balkans Summit to Central Asia, from Ukraine to the Sahel

I write as I arrive in Burkina Faso and the Sahel, where I will meet our regional partners. Until this morning I was in Kyiv, Ukraine, for the 21st summit between the European Union and Ukraine – the first since the election of Volodymyr Zelensky, and the sign of a uniquely close partnership. We discussed the reforms that the Ukrainian citizens are asking to their government, but also the situation in the east of the country, in Crimea and in the Sea of Azov, on top of trade and energy security. Here is our joint statement. Last Friday I was in Poznan, Poland, for the summit with our six partners in the Western Balkans: the whole region’s integration inside the European Union is first and foremost our own interest, and cooperation among the “Western Balkans Six” is essential to facilitate their path towards the European Union. Here is my interview in Poznan with Radio Free Europe, and here is our press release. Over the weekend I was once again in Central Asia: in these years, we have built ever stronger ties with this region. In Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, I announced the opening of an EU embassy to the country – the fifth in the five countries of Central Asia. Here is my press conference with Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov and my statement to the local press. Then off to Bishkek, in Kyrgyzstan, for the ministerial meeting between the European Union and Central Asia. These five countries see Europe as an essential point of reference and are asking us to get more and more engaged in Central Asia. I spoke about it in the press...
Two important results on Mercosur and Iran

Two important results on Mercosur and Iran

I write at the end of a week when we achieved two very important results. On Friday, after years of negotiations, we reached a trade agreement with the Mercosur countries – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is good news for European firms, but the deal goes well beyond trade: it protects workers’ rights and the environment, it creates political dialogue and multilateral cooperation. Europe and Latin America are closer than ever. This week I had discussed the deal with Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, during his visit to Brussels – press release here. On Friday we also gave an important announcement on the defence of the nucleare deal with Iran: the instrument to support legitimate trade exchanges with Iran (called INSTEX) has become operational and is processing the first transactions. Together with the three countries that set it up – France, Germany and the UK – another seven European countries will join the mechanism. On Friday we also gathered the Joint Commission that works to guarantee the deal’s implementation: press release here. Over the week we worked a lot on European defence: on Monday I was at the European Defence Agency (here is my speech), and on Wednesday I joined the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting. Transatlantic cooperation was also at the core of my conversation at the annual Brussels Forum organised by the German Marshall Fund – here is the video. On Friday I also met with the US Envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey, and I spoke to the UN Envoy Geir Pedersen. This week I met some important partners for the EU. On Thursday I chaired the Association...
At work to save the nuclear deal with Iran

At work to save the nuclear deal with Iran

I write at the end of a week at work to save the nuclear deal with Iran. We discussed it last Monday in Luxembourg with the Foreign Ministers of the European Union, stressing that the deal must be preserved and inviting all parties to avoid new escalations (press conference here). The day after, I was in Washington DC, where Iran was at the centre of my talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And next Friday we will gather once again the Joint Commission that oversees the deal’s implementation – which is chaired by the European Union and composed of China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and Iran. Press release here. In Washington, with Pompeo, we also talked about the Balkans, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Libya, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. I also met with Jared Kushner, the President’s advisor on the Middle East, to discuss the situation in Israel and Palestine. Press release here. On Monday, at the Foreign and Defence Ministers’ meeting, I presented a report on the work done in the last three years to turn into action our Global Strategy on foreign and security policy. We confronted our proposals from three years ago with the results achieved – which in some fields have exceeded expectations, for instance on European defence, while in other areas there is still a lot to do. Here is the report, and here the new Council Conclusions to push the work on defence forward. At the Council we also dealt with the situation in Sudan and Moldova. Then with the Foreign Ministers with met Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi. Jordan is one of our closest partners...
The Western Balkans’ future in the European Union

The Western Balkans’ future in the European Union

I write at the end of a week spent in Brussels and Rome, mostly at work with partners from our closest neighbours. At the beginning of the week I met with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and the new President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski (press release here). It is time for both Albania and North Macedonia to start accession negotiations with the European Union – and we, as the European Commission, have asked the governments of the EU to give their green light as soon as possible. On Thursday I hosted Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, one year after the Partnership Agreement that the European Union signed with Armenia. We discussed the ongoing reforms, and how the European Union can keep supporting and accompanying them. Here is the press conference and the joint communique. On Friday I was in the Vatican to meet the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary for relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. This is a dialogue we started three years ago, to try and contribute together to solving some of the worst crises of our age, from Venezuela to Syria. Press release here. Over the week I also spoke on the phone with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj, press release here. And here is my statement on the situation in...
A partner for Asia’s security, and for peace and democracy in Venezuela

A partner for Asia’s security, and for peace and democracy in Venezuela

I write at the end of a week dedicated mostly to cooperation with our Asian partners, to Venezuela, and the Western Balkans’ path towards the European Union. Last weekend I was in Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue – one of the major conferences in the world on security and defence. Today Europe’s and Asia’s security are linked: just think of the situation in Afghanistan, at trade routes in the Indian Ocean, or at our common need to prevent nuclear proliferation. This is why in these years we have strengthened ever more our cooperation with Asian partners. In Singapore I took part in a public debate on the situation in Korea, together with the Defence Ministers of the Republic of Korea and Japan (here is the video). It was also the opportunity to meet several important partners: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan; but also the Defence Ministers of China Wei Fenghe, of South Korea Jeong Kyeong-doo, of Vietnam Ngô Xuân Lịch, of New Zealand Ron Mark, and of Australia Linda Reynolds. Press release here. And here is my interview on Channel News Asia. From Singapore to New York, for a meeting between the International Contact Group we have created on Venezuela, and the representatives of the Lima Group. This is part of the Contact Group’s outreach to the main international interlocutors, to support a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela. Here is our joint statement, and here a press release on the meeting. Back to Brussels, I celebrated with a lot of American and European friends the anniversary of D-Day and our continent’s liberation from nazi-fascism,...
Back from the Horn of Africa. Now in Italy to vote

Back from the Horn of Africa. Now in Italy to vote

I write at the end of a week I have spent mostly in the Horn of Africa. It is a crucial area for our region’s and Europe’s stability – just think that 20 per cent of European trade with the world goes through the Strait of Aden. It is also a region that is living a moment of great change: on the one hand, the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the transition in Sudan; on the other, the growing rivalry among regional powers, which are competing also for the control of the Horn of Africa’s ports and waters. I begun my visit in Mogadishu, Somalia. I met first with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and Foreign Minister Ahmed Issa Awad (here is what I told journalists after the meetings). Then I visited the headquarters of the two European missions in Somalia, which are training the Somali security forces: it is a vital contribution to the security of the Somali people and of the region, but also to Europe’s security. From Somalia to Kenya, one of the African continent’s economic engines and a crucial partner for Europe and the United Nations. There I met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Foreign Minister Monica Juma (press conference here) and Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i. In Nairobi I also inaugurated the new European Union’s embassy, the largest in Africa and the second in the world (here is my speech), and I met a group of young people and civil society representatives (video). Final stop in Djibuti, the strategic hub connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. I met with President Ismail Omar Guelleh...