From Finland to Malta, to India

From Finland to Malta, to India

I write after a week that begun with two events on the fight against the so-called “hybrid threats”. Last Monday morning, in Brussels, I explained our strategy to tackle these threats during a conference organised by the Estonian Presidency of the European Union: here is my speech. Then, on Monday afternoon, I was in Finland to inaugurate the new European Centre of Excellence on Countering Hybrid Threats: I had proposed to open this kind of centre just over a year ago, and we made it happen incredibly fast, thanks to the leadership of some Member States and in partnership with NATO. Here is  my speech at the inauguration. Europe’s security is one of the European Commission’s priorities for the last two years of our mandate. To define these priorities, last Tuesday I was in Strasbourg working with the College of Commissioners and with the Chairs of the European Parliament’s Committees: on top of defence, we focused on our investments in Africa, the Balkans’ path towards the European Union, but also a free and fair trade and the protection of human rights. From Strasbourg to Malta for the “Our Ocean” Conference, which this year was hosted by the European Union. Our seas should always be a resource, but they could also turn into a security threat – because of climate change, pollution and the risk of new conflicts. For this reason I announced 560 million of European Union’s investment in maritime security and against pollution at sea. In Malta we managed to gathered over six billion euros in investment to protect our oceans – a truly remarkable result. Here is my opening speech...
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...
A conference in Brussels for the future of Syria

A conference in Brussels for the future of Syria

I write as I travel from Strasbourg, where we held the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners, to Davos, where I will be taking part in some debates at the World Economic Forum. In Davos I will also have some bilateral meetings with institutional interlocutors and international partners. While the media attention focuses on a complex transition in the US Administration, our work keeps concentrating on the European Union’s continuing role in our region and the world. For peace, security and stability. This starts with Syria, which we discussed yesterday in Brussels at the Foreign Affairs Council. Our regional initiative to prepare Syria’s future goes on, in close cooperation with the United Nations and with regional countries: over the last few days, they sent their delegations to Brussels to discuss how to facilitate together a political transition, a reconciliation process, and how to open a new phase of reconstruction in the country. We have also decided that the European Union, together with the United Nations, will host an international conference on the future of Syria and of the region, next Spring in Brussels. It will be first and foremost a political meeting, to try and bring to an end these dramatic six years of war, and to open a new chapter of transition and reconstruction. But it will also be an opportunity to strengthen our support to an exhausted population, inside and outside Syria’s borders. No one invests as much as Europe does to support Syrians, and this is not bound to change: this fact, together with our non-engagement in the military conflict, gives us credibility. And we are ready to spend our credibility to facilitate a...