The Balkans’ path towards the European Union

The Balkans’ path towards the European Union

I write after a week dedicated mostly to the Balkans, the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and Latin America. Last Tuesday in Strasbourg, we presented – as European Commission – our Strategy to support the path towards the European Union of our six Balkan partners. Because the Balkans are part of our continent, of our history, and hold a place in the future of our Union. Here is the text of the Strategy, here is the press conference, and here is my remarks in the European Parliament’s plenary session. Last week, in Brussels, I had also met the three members of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Presidency – Dragan Čović, Mladen Ivanić and Bakir Izetbegović. Here is the press release. At the plenary in Strasbourg we also discussed our support to the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA, here is my speech), after last week I had gathered in Brussels the group of international donors to Palestine. For the first time after the recent tensions, we all sat around the same table – with the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also with the United States and our Arab partners. Here is the  press conference after the meeting. On the sides of the meeting I had the opportunity to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki, the Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi, the US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Ayman al Safadi, of Egyot, Sameh Shoukri, of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and of Norway, Ine Eriksen Søreide, and UNRWA’s General Commissioner Pierre Krähenbühl. Last week had started with a meeting with MERCOSUR ministers: we pushed forward...
Back from Kuwait

Back from Kuwait

I write after coming back from Kuwait, where I brought the European Union’s support to the mediation carried on by the Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to end the crisis between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, on one side, and Qatar on the other. In my meetings with the Emir, with Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah and the Emir’s emissary, Mohammad Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, we agreed on the need to end the crisis through dialogue as soon as possible, and we discussed how the European Union can further support this goal. This is something I will also discuss tonight and tomorrow in Brussels with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. In Kuwait I also talked about our common work to support the reconstruction of the Iraqi areas liberated from Daesh, about regional crises starting with Syria, and about our bilateral ties. Here is the press release on the visit. The visit to Kuwait concluded a week that I had spent in Europe, in Brussels, Zagreb and Athens. In Athens, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, we discussed the European Union’s support to Greece after the quake in Kos, but also how to relaunch the Cyprus peace talks, and our relations with Turkey, ahead of the EU-Turkey dialogue we will hold in Brussels this week. Here is the video of my meeting with Tsipras. In Zabgreb – during my meetings with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burićand Defence Minister Damir Krstičević – we mostly dealt with the situation in the Balkans, to keep the region advancing on its path towards the European Union, and with European defence. Here...
Five important issues, and one memory

Five important issues, and one memory

I write after a week spent travelling between Brussels, Trieste and Paris, working on five important issues for security and growth in our continent: the Balkans, the Sahel, our common defence, our relations with Russia, and the Mediterranean. First, our relations with the Balkans. In Trieste we met with the leaders of our six Balkan partners that are not yet part of the European Union. Together we launched a clear message: the door of the European Union is open to the Balkans, and the path towards a unified Europe continues. But we also worked on some practical projects for regional cooperation, to improve transports and increase exchanges in the Balkans. Here is what I told journalists after the summit. And here is the press conference after last Monday’s Stabilisation and Association Council with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Trieste Summit was also the opportunity for a long conversation with Emmanuel Macron, on the Balkans and on Africa, on the situation in the Gulf and on European defence (here is the press release). I kept working with him on Thursday, in Paris, together with Angela Merkel. The President and the Chancellor were meeting for the Franco-German Ministerial Council, and together we launched a new Alliance for growth and security in the Sahel. Here is the document we signed together. In Paris I also met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and with the Ministers of Defence of France, Germany, Italy and Spain – Florence Parly, Ursula Von Der Leyen, Roberta Pinotti and Dolores Cospedal. Here is the press release on my meetings in Paris. On Wednesday, in Brussels, I received the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, after my visit...