Strong partnerships for difficult times

Strong partnerships for difficult times

I write at the end of a week when the European Union has been at the core of a strong and wide network of global partnerships. In one day only, we welcomed about one hundred ministerial delegations to Brussels, from South-East Asia and Africa: in a difficult moment for the world, the European Union has become a point of reference for the whole world, like never before. Here is what I told journalists at the beginning of all these meetings.

On  Monday we hosted the Foreign Ministers of South-East Asia, for a meeting between the European Union and ASEAN. Together we decided that we will transform our cooperation in a “strategic partnership”, for even closer relations with ten countries that are very far from us geographically, but incredibly close in terms of interests and values. Here is the press conference at the end of the meeting.

On Monday and Tuesday we also hosted the Foreign Ministers from the African Union’s countries, for the first ministerial meeting between our two continents. One year ago we decided to join forces – Europe and Africa – on the issues we care the most about: not just to manage migration flows, but even more to create opportunities for our young people, and for peace and security in the African continent. Here is my speech that opened the meeting and the final press conference.

With the European Foreign Ministers we also discussed other important and delicate issues, starting with the situation in Venezuela (here is what I said during the press conference on Monday). Venezuela needs new elections, and they have to be free, credible and transparent – here is the statement I issued yesterday on behalf of the Twenty-eight. In these hours I have been in constant contact with European capitals and with our international and Latin-American partners: I spoke with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Vatican’s Secretary for relations with States Paul Gallagher, with the Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and the Foreign Ministers of Cuba, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile and Norway, to discuss how to tackle the situation together – including through our proposal to create an international contact group. Press release here.

On Monday, at the Foreign Affairs Council, we also dealt with Nicaragua and Colombia, with the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the preparations ahead of next month’s meeting with the Arab League, and with contrasting disinformation campaigns, particularly ahead of the European elections. Full press conference here.

During the week I met with Georgia’s new President Salome Zourabichvili, Ethiopia’s Prime Ministers Abiy Ahmed, New Zealand’s Prima Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the Commissioner for the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krähenbühl.

The week ended with some good news for the Balkans and the whole of Europe: on Friday Athens’ Parliament has ratified last summer’s agreement with Skopje, which has solved the name issue with the future North Macedonia – after 27 years. Here is my statement with Jean-Claude Juncker and Johannes Hahn.

One final thing, particularly important: today is the Holocaust Remembrance Day – a date that is even more relevant in a moment like this, when antisemitism and racism are on the rise. This is how I marked the day.