Back from Iran and South-East Asia

Back from Iran and South-East Asia

I write after coming back from a visit to Asia, touching down in Teheran and then in Manila. In Iran I attended the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani’s second term, in my capacity as chair of the Joint Commission overlooking and guaranteeing the full implementation of the deal on Iran’s nuclear program. It was an opportunity to talk again to Rouhani, to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and to the Supreme Leader’s foreign policy advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, in a moment when it is essential that all parties restate their determination to fully implement the deal (here is the press release on my visit to Iran). This is what I also discussed with the Foreign Ministers of three countries that signed the Iran deal two years ago, who were in Manila this week for the ASEAN Regional Forum: Rex Tillerson for the United States, Sergei Lavrov for the Russian Federation, and Wang Yi for China. With them, as well as with Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, we also discussed our bilateral ties, and our common engagement on some of today’s international priorities, from Syria to the Middle East, from Libya to Ukraine. Here is the press release. With them and with more Asian partners – starting with the Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha – we discussed the situation with North Korea and a common response to avoid a dangerous escalation. Here is the press release. In Manila I also chaired the ministerial meeting between the European Union and ASEAN, in the fortieth anniversary of our relations (here is my speech at the anniversary’s celebrations, here the opening session of our ministerial). Together we agreed on the shared initiatives we will push forward over the...
In the far North, a global crossroads

In the far North, a global crossroads

I write after a week spent between Brussels and the far north of Europe. And my visits to Norway and Finland were also an opportunity to meet several partner from more distant parts of the world. On Tuesday I was at the Oslo Forum, where I discussed the future of dialogue, multilateralism and the common work to stabilise our region, together with Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende. Here is the video from the opening session of the Forum with the Foreign Ministers of Iran, Javad Zarif, of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi, and John Kerry; and here is our joint press conference. The visit to Oslo was an important opportunity to meet Javad Zarif, and to discuss with him our bilateral relations after the re-election of President Rouhani, the situation in the region – particularly the Syrian crisis – and the implementation of the nuclear deal: the International Atomic Agency has just monitored and certified again the full respect of the agreement. The deal is working, it is making our region and the world safer: so the European Union will continue to guarantee its full implementation, by all parties. From the Gulf to Latin America: in Oslo I also met for the first time with a delegation of the FARC: we discussed the implementation of the peace deal in Colombia and the European support to reconciliation and economic recovery in the country. But perhaps the most important and moving part of my trip to Norway was the visit to Utoya. On this island, six years ago, tens of young men and women were murdered by the killing spree of a far-right extremist. Utoya was a place for...
Real progress on European defence

Real progress on European defence

Over the last few days our work has been particularly intense, with important and concrete results on European defence. We have taken practical steps forward, which only one year ago would have seemed impossible to achieve. Last Thursday, in Brussels, we set up the first single command centre for European military training and advisory missions. When we began to talk about it, a few months ago, I was told it would have taken us years before we could establish it. We have made it in just a few weeks. Here is the official press release. The same day I travelled to Zaragoza, in Spain, to inaugurate the first European military airlift training centre. Until a few years ago, aircrews from European countries had to be trained in the United States. Today they finally get the training they need here in Europe, in a common structure for all Member States – which is already generating some interest outside the European Union. Here is my speech in Zaragoza. The day before, on Wednesday, I was in Brussels to officially launch the European Defence Fund, which will finance common projects for military research and our defence industry (here is the press conference with Jyrki Katainen). All these are real steps towards a European Union of security and defence: this is the best response to the European citizens’ and our partners’ need for security, but also to those who accuse our Union to be too slow and bureaucratic. Things can change, when there is the political will to make them change for the better. I talked about this at the Prague Security Conference on Friday (here is my speech),...
The world at a glance in Davos

The world at a glance in Davos

I am just back from the World Economic Forum in Davos, an opportunity for me to have a number of important bilateral meetings with the leaders of international organisations and of partner countries. It was even more useful this year, on the eve of the US Presidential inauguration and a few months before we begin to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union: it was an opportunity to talk about our Union and the work we are doing, to showcase our strength – as the second economic power in the world after China, the first market for global trade exchanges, the first diplomatic power, and an increasingly relevant player for global security, in partnership with the United Nations and NATO. In Davos, it was clear that the geopolitical balance of power is shifting, and at the same time too many conflicts are still going on, dramatically: they require a constant work on a global level, with as much cooperation as we can. The list starts with Syria and the fight against Daesh, which were at the centre of many of my meetings. With the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, with the new Foreign Minister of Jordan Ayman al Safadi, with the President of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq Masoud Barzani – with all of them I talked about the Astana conference, which in a few days time will try to consolidate and expand the ceasefire, but also about how to support new UN-led political negotiations in Geneva, about the European initiative we are pushing forward with all regional actors to set up...