I am just back from the World Economic Forum in Davos, an opportunity for me to have a number of important bilateral meetings with the leaders of international organisations and of partner countries. It was even more useful this year, on the eve of the US Presidential inauguration and a few months before we begin to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union: it was an opportunity to talk about our Union and the work we are doing, to showcase our strength – as the second economic power in the world after China, the first market for global trade exchanges, the first diplomatic power, and an increasingly relevant player for global security, in partnership with the United Nations and NATO.
In Davos, it was clear that the geopolitical balance of power is shifting, and at the same time too many conflicts are still going on, dramatically: they require a constant work on a global level, with as much cooperation as we can.
The list starts with Syria and the fight against Daesh, which were at the centre of many of my meetings. With the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, with the new Foreign Minister of Jordan Ayman al Safadi, with the President of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq Masoud Barzani – with all of them I talked about the Astana conference, which in a few days time will try to consolidate and expand the ceasefire, but also about how to support new UN-led political negotiations in Geneva, about the European initiative we are pushing forward with all regional actors to set up a political transition in the country, and about the conference on the future of Syria we will host in Brussels next Spring, together with the United Nations.
The only way for Europeans to play a global role is through our Union – and this is true for diplomacy as much as it is for security and defence. This is what I discussed with the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg: we presented the work we have done together over the last few months for the security of our continent – here is the video.
Davos also gave me the chance for several important bilateral meetings: from our partners in Eastern Europe, with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, to those in the Mediterranean, such as Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and the leader of Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi; from our friends in Latin America, including the President of Paraguay Horacio Cartes and Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, to our neighbours in the Balkans.
In Davos I met with the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandr Vucic: I invited him to Brussels, on Tuesday, together with the Kosovar Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, for a session of the EU-facilitates Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Such dialogue is a crucial tool, after the tensions of the last few days, to preserve the interests of the Serbian and the Kosovar populations, and for the whole region. This I also discussed with Croatia’s Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic.
I had some other important rendez-vous with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, with Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, and obviously with our host, the Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Bulkhalter.
Finally, it was an honour for me to meet Fabiola Giannotti, the director of the CERN in Geneva – a great Italian, who makes us proud with her work.