Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

First day of the year, and as usual I have decided to look back at the best moments of the last twelve months. 2018 ended on a sad note: a few days ago the world lost Amos Oz – an Israeli writer who never stopped believing in the possibility of peace and of the two-state solution. Oz once wrote: “There is no need to establish whose fault it was, whose blindness it was that caused the tragedy. What we need is to find a way out of the mire.” I would like to keep this lesson in mind as the new year begins. Against all the difficulties in our world and our times, we can try to build little big solutions, together with those who have the will and the possibility to do so. We know that great changes can start with small steps forward. This is also the common thread in the twelve moments from 2018 that I bring with me in the new year. These moments show that the European Union has become an indispensable point of reference, globally. And they let us look at the future with hope, in spite of all difficulties.   The Lake Prespa agreement In June I was at the border between Greece and the future North Macedonia, for the signature of an historic agreement between Athens and Skopje: thanks to the leadership and the courage of their Prime Ministers – Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev – the two countries have solved an issue that had poisoned their relationship for decades. The agreement sent a message of peace for the whole of...
Strasbourg

Strasbourg

I write at the end of a week marked by the terrorist attack in Strasbourg – a city that for centuries was at the centre stage of European wars, and for seventy years has been a symbol of peace, thanks to the European Union. One of the victims is Antonio Megalizzi, a young man who felt both Italian and European. The best way to honour his memory is to believe and to invest in our Union, with Antonio’s same enthusiasm and passion. In those hours I was also in Strasbourg, speaking on the floor of the European Parliament. We were reached by the news of the attack as we were discussing the situation in Ukraine (here is what I said). We had also discussed the situation in Ukraine with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, whom we hosted at the EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting. Back to Brussels, I met with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. And I discussed Ukraine with the EU heads of state and government, at the European Council on Thursday and Friday. These are the other issues I discussed at the European Parliament’s plenary session: two reports on our foreign and defence policies; the case of Selahattin Demirtas, the opposition leader detained in Turkey; and the annual report on our work for human rights around the world. On Monday, at the EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting, we also discussed how to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, the Balkans, our work with the African Union, and Venezuela. Here is what I told journalists before the Foreign Affairs Council, and the final press conference. Speaking of Venezuela: on Wednesday I met with...
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...