Two important decisions, one historic mistake

Two important decisions, one historic mistake

I write after a difficult European Council: the heads of State and government have postponed the decision to open negotiations for Albania’s and North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union, in spite of the extraordinary progress achieved by both countries and against the European Commission’s advice. It is much more than a lost opportunity: it is a historic mistake, which I hope can be amended as soon as possible. The Council has also taken two important decisions: it approved the new agreement with London on the UK’s exit from the European Union; and it confirmed the decisions we had adopted on Monday with the Foreign Ministers on Turkey’s military intervention in Syria. Our response to Ankara’s attack against Syrian Kurds has been strong and united. Not only have we condemned the invasion: we have also decided that Member States will stop selling arms to Turkey – each of them respecting their national legislations – and we have adopted economic sanctions to respond to Turkey’s activities off the cost of Cyprus. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, and here is what I told journalists at the beginning of the day. Last week, at the European Parliament, I had already clarified another point: if Turkey decided to transfer hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in a so-called “safe zone” in north-east Syria, to replace the local population, we would never give our financial support to such operation. Here is my speech in the Parliament. On the day when the US withdrawal from north-east Syria was announced I was in Jordan, where I met King Abdullah, Crown Prince...
At work to save the nuclear deal with Iran

At work to save the nuclear deal with Iran

I write at the end of a week at work to save the nuclear deal with Iran. We discussed it last Monday in Luxembourg with the Foreign Ministers of the European Union, stressing that the deal must be preserved and inviting all parties to avoid new escalations (press conference here). The day after, I was in Washington DC, where Iran was at the centre of my talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And next Friday we will gather once again the Joint Commission that oversees the deal’s implementation – which is chaired by the European Union and composed of China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and Iran. Press release here. In Washington, with Pompeo, we also talked about the Balkans, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Libya, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. I also met with Jared Kushner, the President’s advisor on the Middle East, to discuss the situation in Israel and Palestine. Press release here. On Monday, at the Foreign and Defence Ministers’ meeting, I presented a report on the work done in the last three years to turn into action our Global Strategy on foreign and security policy. We confronted our proposals from three years ago with the results achieved – which in some fields have exceeded expectations, for instance on European defence, while in other areas there is still a lot to do. Here is the report, and here the new Council Conclusions to push the work on defence forward. At the Council we also dealt with the situation in Sudan and Moldova. Then with the Foreign Ministers with met Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi. Jordan is one of our closest partners...