On my way to Central Asia, for peace in Afghanistan

On my way to Central Asia, for peace in Afghanistan

I write on my way to Tashkent – in Central Asia, Uzbekistan – where together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani I will open an international conference to help start a peace process in Afghanistan. Last week began with the Council of EU Foreign Ministers – where we worked on Syria, North Korea, the nuclear deal with Iran, Ukraine and our reaction to the Salisbury attack. Here is what I told journalists before the Foreign Affairs Council, and here the final press conference. This is the press point with the Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha: she was our guest at the Council to discuss how the European Union can keep supporting and accompanying diplomacy in the Korean peninsula. At the Council we were also joined by Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria: we prepared the second Brussels conference on Syria, that we will host in exactly one month. We will gather the international community to tackle the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the country, mobilising resources to finance aid, but also to try and relaunch the peace talks in Geneva and put an end to the war. I also discussed Syria with the International Red Cross’ Peter Maurer, on Wednesday. With the EU Foreign Ministers we also discussed our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran – a few days after the signatories to the deal once again confirmed, from Vienna, that Iran is implementing all its commitments. This was also certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, with ten reports: and on Tuesday, in Brussels, I talked about this with Yukiya Amano, the Agency’s Director. More on the Middle East: on...
Working to preserve the deal with Iran

Working to preserve the deal with Iran

I write after coming back from Bulgaria, where together with the whole College of European Commissioners we inaugurated the Bulgarian semester of Presidency of the European Union. The next six months will be particularly important for our relations with the Balkans: our goal remains to consolidate our six partners’ path  towards the EU, so it becomes an irreversible process. These were intense days, especially because of our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran. On Thursday I chaired a meeting in Brussels with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and with the Foreign Ministers of the three European countries that negotiated the deal (Jean-Yves Le Drian for France, Boris Johnson for Britain, and Sigmar Gabriel for Germany). The deal is working, the International Atomic Energy Agency has certified it nine times already, and it is crucial for the security of Europe and the world. It is positive that yesterday President Donald Trump confirmed that the United States will respect their commitments, extending the waiver on nuclear-related sanctions foreseen by the deal. Our meeting in Brussels was also the opportunity to discuss other themes that are not related to the nuclear deal, as the last weeks’ protests in Iran, the tensions in the Middle East and Iran’s ballistic missiles program. There are issues we Europeans are concerned about, which we are committed to tackling with even greater determination, outside the scope of the nuclear deal: in fact, the deal was negotiated on the basis on a UN mandate that limited its scope very clearly. Here is the press conference with Le Drian, Johnson and Gabriel dopo l’incontro. For the European Union, the Middle East is a strategic...
At the United Nations’ General Assembly

At the United Nations’ General Assembly

I write after coming back from New York, where just like every year I took part in the the United Nations’ General Assembly ministerial week. It is a moment to show the European Union’s practical support to the multilateral system and the United Nations – the essential pivot towards peaceful solutions to today’s crises. It was an intense week, difficult at times, with many important achievements but also some tough moments. Starting with the tensions between the United States and Iran. Defending Iran deal On Wednesday night I chaired the meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Iran and the six countries that, two years ago, negotiated the deal on Iran’s nuclear program – the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK. Together we confirmed that Iran is fulfilling the agreements, as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified eight times. It is up to the IAEA to verify that all nuclear commitments are being implemented: this is what the deal states, together with a Resolution by the UN Security Council. For this reason, the deal belongs to the whole world, not just to one or two countries, and the European Union will do everything in our power to guarantee the deal is fully implemented by all. This is the message I delivered in my meetings with the Vice-President of the United States Mike Pence, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov. Here is my press conference on Iran, here my interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. For global non-proliferation In a moment when tension with North Korea continue, it would make no sense to dismantle a non-proliferation deal that is working...
A strong, reliable, indispensable partner

A strong, reliable, indispensable partner

I write after a week that was particularly dense with meetings. It started in Brussels, for the NATO ministerial, then Bonn for the G20, and Munich for the Security Conference. The message I gathered, in all the bilateral meetings I had, is that the world looks at the European Union as a strong, reliable, cooperative and indispensable partner. A much stronger one than we usually realise. And an even more indispensable partner in dangerous and confused times, when rules are too often perceived as a constraint for some, not as a guarantee for all. The European Union is a point of reference when talking about peace, multilateralism, development, rights, free and fair trade. But also when talking about security – for our military and civilian missions around the world, and for cooperation with NATO. And more. It would be an illusion to believe that the challenges ahead of us can be faced with military force only. So the European Union invests in development, in the promotion of human rights, in education, in policies against climate change. We invest in strong societies, not in strong men: it is much more effective to bring real stability. This is not “philanthropy,” these are not just high-minded sentiments: it is a rational investment in our own security. This is what I told the Munich Security Conference, yesterday morning. Inequalities create instability and frailty – this is what we discussed at the G20 in Bonn. In the past, we could talk about what we could do “for” Africa; today, we must understand what we can do together, “with” Africa. We are partners for peace and security, for democracy and rights, for sustainable development,...
UN General Assembly, day 4: between Syria and Palestine, Afghanistan and the Balkans

UN General Assembly, day 4: between Syria and Palestine, Afghanistan and the Balkans

I write after another full day at the United Nations, in a General Assembly that is dealing with the great global issue of migrants and refugees, while working to address the crises that surround Europe. Starting with Syria. Today another meeting of the International Syria Support Group is in the agenda, and yesterday we worked to prepare the event. I spoke at length about Syria with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov (here is my statement on the meeting), and with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif. With him I also prepared the ministerial meeting I will chair today, to take stock of the implementation of the nuclear deal we reached a year ago together with the US, Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany (here is the statement). The most ancient outstanding issue of the Middle East, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, was at the centre of a long meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the coming days we will gather the Middle East Quartet – where the European Union sits together with the United Nations, the United States and Russia – to shake life back into the two-State perspective, and to encourage concrete steps in this direction. Then Afghanistan, which is still struggling to find stability after decades of war. Afghanistan will be the focus of a big conference we are organising in Brussels in the first days of October: this is what I discussed yesterday with Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. But the UN General Assembly is also the opportunity to tackle great global issues – such as the fight against terrorism and radicalisation, which we discussed at the...