A historic day for the Balkans and for Europe

A historic day for the Balkans and for Europe

I write on my way back from Lake Prespa, on the border between Greece and the “Republic of North Macedonia” – as it will now be called – where I took part in the signing of a historic deal between Athens and Skopje. This deal on the “name issue” is a message of hope and peace not just for the two countries involved, but for all the Balkans and for our entire continent. It shows that diplomacy and dialogue can solve even the most difficult issues, when supported by courage and determination. This is what I said today at Lake Prespa, here is my statement on the agreement, and this is what I said on Tuesday at the European Parliament in announcing the deal. The deal between Athens and Skopje is not the only piece of good news of the week. The summit in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un demonstrates that the crises of our times can only be dealt with through diplomacy and dialogue. This is what I said on Tuesday at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, at the beginning of a debate on our work to salvage the deal with Iran – here is the video, here my statement on North Korea. And yesterday, in Afghanistan, the first ceasefire between the government and the Taliban entered into force – a sign of hope in a country at war for decades. Here is my statement. In Strasbourg we also presented, as European Commission, our proposal for the next budget of the European Union. For the first time ever, we want the budget to deal with security and defence – investing in the...
For a more secure, more autonomous and stronger Europe

For a more secure, more autonomous and stronger Europe

This week marked a historic moment for European integration. Last Tuesday, for the first time in our history, we gathered a Council of Ministers in the Permanent Structured Cooperation format: with 25 Defence Ministers, we agreed on the first seventeen projects for common European defence, and on a roadmap to move towards closer cooperation on research and development. We want to make Europe more secure, more autonomous and to strengthen our defence industry. On the same day, with Defence Ministers from all 28 Member States, we met with NATO deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller, to push our cooperation even further: EU and NATO have never worked so closely, with 74 common projects already in place. We also discussed all 16 European military and civilian missions. Here is my press conference after the Council. The push for European defence and our ever stronger commitment on global challenges – starting with migration – are at the core of a new documentary film, Europe at Sea. Director Annalisa Piras followed our daily work for two years, and the movie was presented last Friday in Brussels. You can watch it here. The movie catches the gist of our daily work – that is, to always seek opportunities for cooperation. Cooperation among our Member States, with our global partners, with multilateral organisations. Such as the Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe: last Monday I met their Secretary General, Thomas Greminger, to discuss the open crises on our continent – starting with Ukraine. I will be in Kyiv today and tomorrow, in a delicate moment for the country – for the search of a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and...
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...