Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

First day of the year, and as usual I have decided to look back at the best moments of the last twelve months. 2018 ended on a sad note: a few days ago the world lost Amos Oz – an Israeli writer who never stopped believing in the possibility of peace and of the two-state solution. Oz once wrote: “There is no need to establish whose fault it was, whose blindness it was that caused the tragedy. What we need is to find a way out of the mire.” I would like to keep this lesson in mind as the new year begins. Against all the difficulties in our world and our times, we can try to build little big solutions, together with those who have the will and the possibility to do so. We know that great changes can start with small steps forward. This is also the common thread in the twelve moments from 2018 that I bring with me in the new year. These moments show that the European Union has become an indispensable point of reference, globally. And they let us look at the future with hope, in spite of all difficulties.   The Lake Prespa agreement In June I was at the border between Greece and the future North Macedonia, for the signature of an historic agreement between Athens and Skopje: thanks to the leadership and the courage of their Prime Ministers – Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev – the two countries have solved an issue that had poisoned their relationship for decades. The agreement sent a message of peace for the whole of...
Europe and Canada, closer than ever

Europe and Canada, closer than ever

I write at the end of a week spent in Montreal and in Brussels. One and a half years ago we agreed on a “strategic partnership” with Canada – in other words, we decided to bring our political, economic and diplomatic cooperation to the highest level. In Montreal, earlier this week, I met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. With her I discussed all the main issues on the international agenda – from our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran to the situation in Ukraine – and our bilateral relations. Here is what I said opening our ministerial meeting and the final press conference. With Chrystia we also met a group of students, discussing with them Europe’s and Canada’s shared priorities on the international stage – the video is here. And still together, we took part in the “Most Powerful Women” annual summit organised by Fortune – more info here. Back to Brussels, I was at the “Africa week” organised by the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament. It was also the opportunity to meet again with President Roch Kaboré of Burkina Faso: with him, I talked about the partnership between Europe and Africa “beyond migration”. Here is the video and here is the press release on our meeting. Then, on Thursday, I chaired the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, with Presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci. Press release here. During the week I met with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Director Fernando Arias and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on violence against women Dubravka Šimonović. Like every year,...
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...