Good news from the Balkans and Asia

Good news from the Balkans and Asia

I write at the end of a week that I spent working with many of our partners – from our Eastern neighbours to the countries of South-East Asia, with some important results and good news.

On Friday evening the Parliament in Skopje took a step towards changing the country’s name to “North Macedonia”, as agreed with Greece last summer. This is an essential moment for our continent’s stability and towards negotiations for the future North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union. Here is my statement.

The second piece of good news is that we signed a trade agreement with Singapore: it is a new kind of agreement, for our trade to be free and fair at the same time – with more protection for workers, for our trademarks and for the environment. More details here.

We signed the deal with Singapore in the margins of the Europe-Asia Summit, a meeting of 51 countries from our two continents. Among other issues, we worked in particular on North Korea, particularly together with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and on making our trade relations stronger and fairer. Here is the press release on all my meetings in the margins of the summit and on a deal to protect Vietnam’s environment.

My week started in Luxembourg, at the meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers. Together with the ministers, I met with Filippo Grandi and Antonio Vitorino, who lead the two UN Agencies for refugees and migrants (UNHCR and IOM). Our work on this file continued in Brussels, at the European Council with the 28 EU heads of State and government: they confirmed their strong support to the work we are doing through our foreign policy to manage migration flows. I asked them to support financially our Trust Fund for Africa, which so far has been mostly financed by the European Commission. Here is what I told journalists ahead of the European Council.

I also discussed innovative investment in Africa at the European Parliament, with Bill Gates: here is the video of our meeting.

With the Foreign Ministers we discussed Libya ahead of the Palermo conference to be hosted by Italy, the Central African Republic (here are the Conclusions we adopted), and the situation in Venezuela: we are exploring new options to try and restart a political process to end the crisis. Here is what I told journalists before and after the Foreign Affairs Council.

With the Foreign Ministers, we also met with our six partners from Eastern Europe, to continue our work on twenty practical projects to achieve by 2020. Here is what I said after the meeting, with my colleague Johannes Hahn.

Finally, two other important meetings. On Friday I met with the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura: press release here. And on Wednesday I had a dialogue with the European Economic and Social Committee, which gathers representatives of business, trade unions and civil society from all around Europe – here is the video.