The international contact group for Venezuela

The international contact group for Venezuela

I write from Ethiopia, where I will take part in the African Union’s Summit, before travelling to other parts of the Horn of Africa. I will write about this in the next days (in the meantime, here is the programme of the visit). I came here straight from Montevideo in Uruguay, where I co-chaired with President Tabaré Vázquez the first meeting of the contact group that we have created to help find a solution to the crisis. With the members of the group – from Europe and Latin-America – we decided to proceed with contacts with the Venezuelan sides, to seek a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis, and to avoid a violent escalation of the conflict. Our goal is to help establish as soon as possible the necessary guarantees for new presidential elections, and to allow for the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance – reaching those who are truly in need, and avoiding that humanitarian aid gets politicised. For these reasons, we will soon send a technical mission to the country. Here is the official statement and what I told journalists after the meeting. The week had started with the meeting of Foreign Ministers from the European Union and the Arab League, to prepare our two organisations’ joint Summit at the end of the month. We discussed the crises in our region – from Libya to Yemen and Syria, also in view of the Brussels Conference for Syria that we will host in March. But we also talked about our cooperation to strengthen our economies, create jobs, manage migration flaws, address climate change. Here is my speech and the final press conference. On...
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,...
In a confused world, a strong and reliable Europe

In a confused world, a strong and reliable Europe

I write at the end of a week when the European Union confirmed its role as a strong and reliable partner, in a moment of global confusion. We know who our friends and partners are, we know the European people’s interests, we believe in the power of multilateral diplomacy and dialogue: I spoke about this at the beginning of the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday in Brussels, here is the video. The work done this week demonstrates very clearly the European Union’s global role. From diplomacy to security and trade. We signed the largest ever free trade agreement in history, to strengthen our economy thanks to free and fair trade with Japan. We reconfirmed our cooperation with China in an important Summit. At the beginning of August I will be in Asia-Pacific to meet our regional partners, with a special focus on the situation in Korea. Last Monday and Tuesday we welcomed to Brussels the Foreign Ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean, for a European Union-CELAC ministerial meeting. We share interests and values with them: in this confused moment in the history of the world, we know we stand on the same side – the side of a more inclusive economic growth, multilateralism, international cooperation, the fight against climate change, and the promotion of human rights. Here is my speech opening the meeting, here the press conference and the final communique, here the award ceremony for some civil society organisations, here the meetings with the Pacific Alliance and the group of Caribbean countries, here my statement on the situation in Nicaragua. On Wednesday I gathered again in Brussels the delegations of Serbia and Kosovo, led by...
Working to save the deal with Iran

Working to save the deal with Iran

I write from Sofia, Bulgaria, after days when the entire European Union, together, has worked non-stop on the nuclear deal with Iran and tensions in the Middle East. As the European Union, we believe that the US decision to withdraw from Iran deal is a mistake. The deal is working, as certified eleven times by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it is strategic for our security. So we are determined to preserve it, and united in our determination. Here are my words after the US announcement, and here is the declaration I made on behalf of all 28 EU States. On Tuesday I gathered in Brussels the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom – the three European countries that negotiated the deal together with the US, Russia and China. We decided to start working on a package of measures to protect the deal, to make sure that Iranian citizens can enjoy the benefits of it, and to safeguard our economic interests. Our goal is to maintain and deepen our economic ties – including with new projects, starting with energy and transport – while defending and incentivising small and medium enterprises investing in Iran. The same unanimous will to respect the deal was confirmed last night in Sofia, by the 28 heads of State and government of the European Union. They also agreed on the measures we had put forward yesterday morning at the European Commission’s meeting in Brussels, which I presented to them together with President Jean-Claude Juncker. The first step, tomorrow, will be to launch the procedure to activate...