Between Lebanon and the Balkans. And a message to our EU missions

Between Lebanon and the Balkans. And a message to our EU missions

This week I went back to Lebanon, for the first international visit since Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Beirut. I carried with me a message of strong support to Lebanon, to the country’s autonomy and independence, to its institutions and its citizens. This is what I discussed with President Michel Aoun, with Hariri, with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and the speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, together with the situation in Jerusalem and the war in Syria. Here is what I told journalists after my meeting with Bassil, here is the press conference with Hariri. On Monday evening, in Brussels, I hosted the prime ministers of our six partners in the Balkans. 2018 will be a crucial year for their path towards the European Union: it is the opportunity to make this path irreversible, pushing forward those reforms – from justice to the economy – that their citizens are asking for. Here is the press release on our meeting. On Monday, on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year greetings, I also met via video conference our sixteen military and civilian missions – men and women who serve far from home, but contribute directly to the security of all...

Federica Mogherini hosted a working dinner with the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, hosted tonight an informal gathering with the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans to discuss the situation in the region and in particular the opportunities to advance the region’s European Union integration in 2018. Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdić, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj, Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković and Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić reiterated their full commitment to continuing to work for the European Union integration process. As clearly confirmed this year, including by the European Council in March and by President Juncker in his September State of the Union address, 2018 will provide a unique opportunity for the region to make irreversible steps forward in its EU integration, provided that the utmost priority is given to the necessary reforms, in particular on rule of law, justice and fundamental rights. With a renewed dynamic in the EU’s enlargement policy and a chance to make important progress throughout the region, the High Representative underlined the need for all Western Balkans partners to accelerate essential reforms to deliver on their citizens’ expectations and take concrete steps towards EU integration. The participants underlined their deep determination and interest in strengthening cooperation and good neighbourly relations and in promoting regional understanding. In this context, the importance of the ongoing discussions between Presidents Hashim Thaçi and Aleksandar Vučić to advance in the EU-facilitated dialogue for normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo was...
Maastricht, the Balkans, Africa

Maastricht, the Balkans, Africa

I write after a week spent mostly in Brussels, working on Africa, on the Balkans and the future of the European Union. On Thursday I celebrated twenty-five years since the Treaty of Maastricht, in the very hall where it was signed, with university students from all around Europe. In Maastricht we stopped being just a free trade area, and became a Union. From that moment on, we are not only customers, but citizens – with plenty of rights but also with the responsibility to always contribute to making our Union work. Here is the video of my speech. The Treaty of Maastricht spoke about “ending the divisions of the European continent:” not just a dream, but a concrete goal. And our continent will not be truly united until all our partners in the Balkans are not part of the European Union. This week we have continued to work for all our six partners to take irreversible steps on their path towards the European Union. On Friday I met with the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Behgjet Pacolli: here is the press release. Over the week we also had two meetings and one important achievement on Africa. On Wednesday I opened the “Africa week” organised by the group of the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament. The hashtag for the event, #withAfrica, perfectly sums up the transition we are working on, from a donor-recipient mentality to a full partnership between the European Union and Africa. Here is my speech. With the same spirit, this week our new European External Investment Plan has become reality: a program to help European firms – including small and medium enterprises –...