Solidarity for Venezuelans and for those who welcome them

Solidarity for Venezuelans and for those who welcome them

I write at the end of a week that has been mostly dedicated to the situation in Venezuela. On Monday and Tuesday we hosted in Brussels an International Solidarity Conference for those who fled Venezuela and their host communities. We welcomed 120 delegations – national governments, international organisations and civil society – which pledged 120 million euros in support. This adds to 320 million euros already mobilised by the European Union since 2016. And this is only the beginning of a new solidarity path, which will continue in the coming months with more conferences like this. Here is my opening speech, here is the final press conference. And here is the statement by the International Contact Group on Venezuela, to call on the Venezuelan actors to return to a path that can lead towards a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis. Last Tuesday, I also gathered in Brussels the leaders of our six partners in the Western Balkans. Postponing the opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia on their accession to the European Union was a historic mistake (I wrote about it here). And yet, on Tuesday we all agreed that we must keep working to realise the Western Balkans’ EU prospective. Press release here. Here is my statement on the inaugural meeting of the Committee that should write the new Syrian...
Two important decisions, one historic mistake

Two important decisions, one historic mistake

I write after a difficult European Council: the heads of State and government have postponed the decision to open negotiations for Albania’s and North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union, in spite of the extraordinary progress achieved by both countries and against the European Commission’s advice. It is much more than a lost opportunity: it is a historic mistake, which I hope can be amended as soon as possible. The Council has also taken two important decisions: it approved the new agreement with London on the UK’s exit from the European Union; and it confirmed the decisions we had adopted on Monday with the Foreign Ministers on Turkey’s military intervention in Syria. Our response to Ankara’s attack against Syrian Kurds has been strong and united. Not only have we condemned the invasion: we have also decided that Member States will stop selling arms to Turkey – each of them respecting their national legislations – and we have adopted economic sanctions to respond to Turkey’s activities off the cost of Cyprus. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, and here is what I told journalists at the beginning of the day. Last week, at the European Parliament, I had already clarified another point: if Turkey decided to transfer hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in a so-called “safe zone” in north-east Syria, to replace the local population, we would never give our financial support to such operation. Here is my speech in the Parliament. On the day when the US withdrawal from north-east Syria was announced I was in Jordan, where I met King Abdullah, Crown Prince...
European defence and Iran deal, the work goes on

European defence and Iran deal, the work goes on

I write at the end of a week spent in Helsinki with the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the Union. With the Defence Ministers we worked on three crucial issues for our security. For the first time ever, we discussed together how climate change is becoming a threat to our common security – to tackle natural disasters, the conflicts sparked by climate change, and too reduce the environmental impact of our defence systems. Second, we dealt again with cyber-security and how to govern the use of artificial intelligence in weapon systems, together with the tech leaders that I gathered in our Global Tech Panel. And third, we also talked about coordinating our Member States’ naval presence in crisis theatres or in areas of strategic interest for Europe – with Coordinated Maritime Presences. Finally, with the Defence and Foreign Ministers together, we talked hybrid threats and our response to them. The path towards greater European cooperation on defence continues. Here is the final press conference and here is what I told journalists before the meeting. On Thursday and Friday the work went on with Foreign Ministers. We worked on the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and in the Gulf, and on how to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran – including in a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the UK which I called in the margins of the main meeting. We also dealt with the Arctic and the situation in Hong Kong. Then a session with our six partners in the Balkans, to discuss how to step up cooperation and integration in this crucial part...