Another step forward for European defence

Another step forward for European defence

I write after a week spent between Brussels and the Gulf. Last Monday I chaired the monthly meeting of European Foreign Ministers, which was the opportunity to host the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok: his country has chosen democracy and we – as the European Union – are trying to give our full support to this transition, from a political and economic point of view (press release here). We then dealt with the situation in Afghanistan after the presidential election, with the situation in the Gulf and the nuclear deal with Iran, and we discussed the latest developments in Bolivia. Press conference here. And this is our statement from last Monday on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran, together with the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the UK. We also discussed the situation in Bolivia on Wednesday at the European Parliament’s plenary session, here is the debate. And here are the debates on Turkey’s drilling activities off the Cypriot coast and on the situation in Chile. Last Tuesday I chaired the meeting of the Union’s Defence Ministers. Together we hosted NATO’s deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană to discuss EU-NATO cooperation, before we moved to two other issues. We approved thirteen new projects in the framework of our Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence, spanning from common trainings to missile defence. And we worked on our European military and civilian missions, to guarantee that they always have the necessary resources – we focused in particular on key areas such as the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. There were also some positive steps forward regarding Operation Sophia’s future. Here is the press...
One week, four continents

One week, four continents

I spent last week in four continents – travelling from Afghanistan to Latin America and back to Tunis and Brussels. I worked on areas of the world – near and far – that are a source of concern, but where we also see glimmers of hope: Central Asia, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Libya and the Middle East. Central Asia was at the core of my talks with Pakistani leader, last Monday in Islamabad. The occasion for the trip was the “strategic dialogue” between the European Union and Pakistan, an essential country for Asia’s security. With President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shad Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa we talked about our bilateral relations, but also – and most extensively – about regional peace and security: we discussed at length what Europe and Pakistan can do to accompany peace negotiations in Afghanistan (press release here), and the recent tensions between India and Pakistan. And more: after the terrorist attack against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand, we agreed on the need for common work to stop the rise of Islamophobia. At the same time, we must work together against radicalisation and all forms of terrorism. Here is the press conference with Qureshi. Together with a group of Pakistani women from civil society organisations, I also discussed the crucial role of women and society in stabilisation and human growth. From Islamabad to Kabul, to support the perspective of peace through a political process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. It is an essential moment to end the war in Afghanistan – after President Ashraf...