Practical contributions to peace

Practical contributions to peace

I write on my way to the United States – where I will speak about transatlantic relations at Harvard – in the wake of the sad day of President George H.W. Bush’s passing: here is what I said yesterday morning about him. My week has started in Brussels with the meeting with this year’s two Nobel Peace Prize winners: Denis Mukwege, the Congolese doctor who has devoted his entire life to healing women who have suffered from sexual violence, and Nadia Murad, the Yazidi girl who has become a symbol of the resistance against Daesh. I had already met them in Strasbourg when they received the Sakharov prize; this time, we welcomed them to the EU Development ministers’ meeting, on the occasion of the international day for the elimination of violence against women. And we decided to mobilise five million euros more in support to their initiatives. Here is the press conference with Denis and Nadia. On Wednesday I was in Geneva for the conference on peace in Afghanistan, organised by the United Nations. I put on the table five practical proposals on how the European union can support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, to finally end an endless war. And I discussed these proposals with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Here is my speech at the conference. In Geneva I also met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (press release here), one day after I had met in Brussels with Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, who leads the Iranian atomic energy agency. With both of them I discussed the work we are...
Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

I write after coming back from Libya, where we have just re-established a direct European Union’s presence: we have re-opened our Embassy and our mission to help Libyans control their borders. This is the result of years of common work with the Libyans and the United Nations: we have accompanied negotiations to end the crisis in the country, we have trained the Libyan coastguard through Operation Sophia, we have supported the Libyan people creating jobs and investing in education and healthcare, and we have freed thirty thousand migrants from detention centres in the country. Yesterday in Tripoli I met with Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj and Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala: we discussed the upcoming election and new European projects in the country. I met with the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame and the representatives of all UN agencies in the capital, but also with our Embassy’s staff, our EUBAM mission, and Libyans who manage projects financed by the European Union. Here is a press release, here my words in front of cameras in Tripoli. This week I also met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, the Union for the Mediterranean’s new Secretary General Nasser Kamel, and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah. It was also the week of the NATO Summit in Brussels, where we agreed on the next steps in the common work we are doing for Europe’s security – the EU and NATO together (here is our new EU-NATO Joint Declaration). At the Summit we discussed Afghanistan – and I met again with President Ashraf Ghani, press release here – and our common work against the terrorists...
A force for peace, from the Balkans to Afghanistan

A force for peace, from the Balkans to Afghanistan

I have spent this week travelling between Central Asia, the Balkans and Brussels. First I was in Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, to open the international conference for peace in Afghanistan together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev. It was an important moment, to gather international support for President Ghani’s proposal for negotiations between his government and the Taliban. I announced the European Union’s readiness to accompany this process with all our power – political, diplomatic and economic – to help rebuild the fabric of the Afghan society, its democracy, and to strengthen cooperation and connectivity between Afghanistan and its neighbours. Here is my speech at the opening of the Conference. The Tashkent Conference was also the opportunity to meet bilaterally with President Ghani (here is the press release) and President Mirziyoyev, but also with India’s Foreign Minister MJ Akbar, Pakistan’s Muhammad Asif, and the five Central Asian Foreign Ministers: with them, we worked to push forward the decision we took in our meeting in Samarkand at the end of last year. Press release here. From Uzbekistan to Belgrade, to discuss with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about the future of the dialogue with Pristina – facilitated by the European Union – after a very serious episode of tension happened in Kosovo last Monday. Here is our joint statement. Back to Brussels, on Wednesday: together with the European Commission we approved a plan to remove obstacles – both physical and bureaucratic – that make it difficult for European militaries to move within our continent. This is part of the work we have carried on over the last two years towards a Europe of defence. Press release here. In Brussels I also had the pleasure to receive Finland’s...