United and determined

United and determined

I write after coming back from Tallinn, where I chaired the meeting of the European Union’s Foreign and Defence Ministers – at the end of a difficult week of international tensions, after the latest North Korean nuclear test. We managed to respond to these tensions with unity and determination, and with some important decisions – which I explain here. With the Foreign Minister we addressed the crisis in Venezuela, with a commitment to keep on with our contacts to help bring the crisis to an end – particularly our contacts with Latin-American partners. We also discussed the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and decided to start a review of the modalities of our engagement on the ground: we do not want to reduce our engagement, but on the contrary to make it more effective towards the only realistic goal to end the conflict, that is, a two-state solution. Another important point on our agenda, which we discussed with the Ministers of the five candidate countries to EU membership: the prevention of radicalisation and the fight against terrorism. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and here is my discussion with members of Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees from all around Europe to discuss the priorities of our common foreign and security policy. Because in Tallinn, over the last two days, we also carried on our work on the European common security and defence. First, with an exercise on cyber-security, together (for the first time) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; and then with some important decisions on strengthening our common European commitment in two essential regions for us: the Sahel and the Horn of...
Bad news on Cyprus, and some important achievements

Bad news on Cyprus, and some important achievements

I write on my way back from Crans Montana, in Switzerland, where over the last two days I took part in the final phase of the negotiations on Cyprus led by the United Nations. Long days and nights at work, which ended with no deal among the parties. It is very bad news, because peace in Cyprus could have put an end to over forty years of conflict, and it could have demonstrated once again the power of diplomacy. It would have brought stability and security to the region, but also new economic opportunities. From tomorrow on, it will be harder to imagine a path to restart the negotiations. But the European Union will continue to engage for cooperation in the region. And we will be ready to welcome a reunited, reconciled and peaceful Cyprus as a member of our Union. The rest of the week was instead dense with important achievements. Last Monday I invited to Brussels the Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci: together we decided to open a new phase in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, towards a normalisation of their relations and to advance the entire Balkans on their path towards the European Union. Here is the press release. And yesterday the European Union and Japan signed an important agreement on free trade and political cooperation. Important not only because Japan is a long-term partner and one of the world’s largest economies. Together we are showing that the best response to the imbalances caused by globalisation is not a return to protectionism, but cooperation with our partners towards better rules for all – with more...