Today I am writing from Brussels, after an important day working on Sahel – a crucial region at the gates of Europe.
The five Sahel countries – Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso –have decided to join forces to address challenges that none of them could have faced alone: terrorism, the trafficking of arms, drugs and human beings, the creation of good jobs for their youth. The European Union has accompanied this process since the very beginning, with constant political support to the “G5 Sahel”, with a military and civilian presence on the ground, with 8 billion euros for economic development in the region. Today, in Brussels, we gathered the five countries’ Presidents, the European Union’s heads of State and government, the President of the African Union, the United Nations and tens of international delegations at ministerial level. Together we mobilised new international support to the joint military force of the G5 Sahel, to fight terrorism, international crime and traffickers in the Sahel. We gathered more resources than expected: over 400 million euros, so that our partners’ joint force can be fully operational from next month. This is what I told journalists at the beginning of the day, and here is the press conference at the end of the meeting.
The conference was also the opportunity to meet bilaterally the President of the African Union’s Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir, the Foreign Minister of Morocco Nasser Bourita, but also with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Some other important things from this week, first of all our work for Syria: on Monday I met again with the leader of the Syrian opposition, Nasr al Hariri, and here is my declaration on behalf of the European Union on the situation in Eastern Ghouta. On the same day I discussed Syria – but also North Korea and the Middle East peace process, and our cooperation with the United Nations – with UN under-secretary general Jeffrey Feltman, too.
On Wednesday, I welcomed to Brussels Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, to make operational the new partnership between Armenia and the European Union, which we created last November. Press release here.
On Wednesday I also met with Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s Yesh Atid party.
On Tuesday I chaired the Council of Development Ministers of the European Union. In the margins of the Council, I met with Achim Steiner of the United Nations’ Development Programme.