Practical contributions to peace

Practical contributions to peace

I write on my way to the United States – where I will speak about transatlantic relations at Harvard – in the wake of the sad day of President George H.W. Bush’s passing: here is what I said yesterday morning about him. My week has started in Brussels with the meeting with this year’s two Nobel Peace Prize winners: Denis Mukwege, the Congolese doctor who has devoted his entire life to healing women who have suffered from sexual violence, and Nadia Murad, the Yazidi girl who has become a symbol of the resistance against Daesh. I had already met them in Strasbourg when they received the Sakharov prize; this time, we welcomed them to the EU Development ministers’ meeting, on the occasion of the international day for the elimination of violence against women. And we decided to mobilise five million euros more in support to their initiatives. Here is the press conference with Denis and Nadia. On Wednesday I was in Geneva for the conference on peace in Afghanistan, organised by the United Nations. I put on the table five practical proposals on how the European union can support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, to finally end an endless war. And I discussed these proposals with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Here is my speech at the conference. In Geneva I also met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (press release here), one day after I had met in Brussels with Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, who leads the Iranian atomic energy agency. With both of them I discussed the work we are...
Two important achievements for the Europe of defence

Two important achievements for the Europe of defence

I write after a week spent in Brussels and in Turkey, which started with some important achievements in our work on the Europe of defence and ended today with the meeting of the 27 heads of government on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. My week started with the meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers of the Union, with the participation – as usual – of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. On Tuesday we added two elements to our work for Europe to be more secure and a more effective global force for peace. We approved seventeen new projects in the framework of our Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence – from drones to a European school of intelligence, from cyber-security to aerospace. And we decided to strengthen the civilian dimension of our international missions – which is already today a European pride, from Mali to Ukraine, from Iraq to Somalia. We want to expand even more our civilian action, with new capacities and shorter reaction time. We also discussed the future of Operation Sophia, our naval mission in the Mediterranean: all ministers confirmed their support to the Operation, but if there will be no agreement on its future in the coming few weeks, we will have to suspend it. Here is what I told journalists before the Council with Defence ministers, and the final press conference. On Monday, with the Foreign Ministers, we talked about the war in Yemen – in a moment when a de-escalation seems possible, and after my phone call with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffith. We also worked on Ukraine, Bosnia and...