The Western Balkans’ future in the European Union

The Western Balkans’ future in the European Union

I write at the end of a week spent in Brussels and Rome, mostly at work with partners from our closest neighbours. At the beginning of the week I met with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and the new President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski (press release here). It is time for both Albania and North Macedonia to start accession negotiations with the European Union – and we, as the European Commission, have asked the governments of the EU to give their green light as soon as possible. On Thursday I hosted Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, one year after the Partnership Agreement that the European Union signed with Armenia. We discussed the ongoing reforms, and how the European Union can keep supporting and accompanying them. Here is the press conference and the joint communique. On Friday I was in the Vatican to meet the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Secretary for relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. This is a dialogue we started three years ago, to try and contribute together to solving some of the worst crises of our age, from Venezuela to Syria. Press release here. Over the week I also spoke on the phone with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj, press release here. And here is my statement on the situation in...
A partner for Asia’s security, and for peace and democracy in Venezuela

A partner for Asia’s security, and for peace and democracy in Venezuela

I write at the end of a week dedicated mostly to cooperation with our Asian partners, to Venezuela, and the Western Balkans’ path towards the European Union. Last weekend I was in Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue – one of the major conferences in the world on security and defence. Today Europe’s and Asia’s security are linked: just think of the situation in Afghanistan, at trade routes in the Indian Ocean, or at our common need to prevent nuclear proliferation. This is why in these years we have strengthened ever more our cooperation with Asian partners. In Singapore I took part in a public debate on the situation in Korea, together with the Defence Ministers of the Republic of Korea and Japan (here is the video). It was also the opportunity to meet several important partners: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan; but also the Defence Ministers of China Wei Fenghe, of South Korea Jeong Kyeong-doo, of Vietnam Ngô Xuân Lịch, of New Zealand Ron Mark, and of Australia Linda Reynolds. Press release here. And here is my interview on Channel News Asia. From Singapore to New York, for a meeting between the International Contact Group we have created on Venezuela, and the representatives of the Lima Group. This is part of the Contact Group’s outreach to the main international interlocutors, to support a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela. Here is our joint statement, and here a press release on the meeting. Back to Brussels, I celebrated with a lot of American and European friends the anniversary of D-Day and our continent’s liberation from nazi-fascism,...
At work on Venezuela, Iran and the future of Europe

At work on Venezuela, Iran and the future of Europe

I write at the end of a week that I spent in Latin America and the Balkans, at work on Venezuela and the future of Europe, but also on the nuclear deal with Iran. On Monday and Tuesday I was in Costa Rica, for the meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela. In a incredibly delicate moment for the country, marked by new violence, we confirmed that the only possible way out of the crisis is a peaceful and democratic solution. In our second day of work we welcomed the representatives on the Caribbean Community (Caricom), of Chile and the Holy See: we will continue to work with the rest of the international community to help restart a political process in the country. This is my speech opening the meeting, and here is the press conference.  During the week , together with the Contact Group, we also reacted to the arrest of Edgar Zambrano, vice-president of Venezuela’s National Assembly: here is our statement. The visit to Costa Rice was the opportunity to meet with President Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Foreign Minister Manuel Ventura Robles. From Costa Rica to Albania, for the summit of the Brdo-Brijuni process – the Balkan regional forum organised by Croatia and Slovenia. On top of bilateral meetings with our Albanian guests – Prime Minister Edi Rama and President Ilir Meta – I also met with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, and with the Chairman of Bosnia’s Presidency Milorad Dodik. Here is the press conference with Edi Rama: I repeated that it is time to open negotiations for Albania’s accession to the European Union....