A window of opportunity for the Balkans

A window of opportunity for the Balkans

I write after a week spent in Brussels – to work on the crises in the Middle East, and particularly in Syria – and in the Western Balkans, a region that is part of Europe, geographically, and can collectively become part of our European Union. This is the message that last Wednesday we brought to Pristina, Kosovo, together with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Johannes Hahn. It is time to close the wounds of the past, and take new steps to guarantee stability to the region and the whole of Europe. We discussed this with President Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, the Chairman of the national Assembly Kadri Veseli. But also with a group of young people and civil society representatives, in an open and sincere discussion – here is the video. The conversation continued the day after in Sofia, in Bulgaria, with all our six Balkan partners. In the coming months they have – and we have – a unique window of opportunity to end Europe’s divisions and unite our continent. The week had begun in Brussels with the monthly meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers. Once again we dealt with the situation in the Middle East. After the visits of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, last Monday we welcomed the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Palestine, together with the Arab League’s Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit: we discussed the situation between Israel and Palestine and how to restart the peace process. Here is my press conference with Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi. Then, the tragedy of Syria and Ghouta. After I met the ministers,...
Five important issues, and one memory

Five important issues, and one memory

I write after a week spent travelling between Brussels, Trieste and Paris, working on five important issues for security and growth in our continent: the Balkans, the Sahel, our common defence, our relations with Russia, and the Mediterranean. First, our relations with the Balkans. In Trieste we met with the leaders of our six Balkan partners that are not yet part of the European Union. Together we launched a clear message: the door of the European Union is open to the Balkans, and the path towards a unified Europe continues. But we also worked on some practical projects for regional cooperation, to improve transports and increase exchanges in the Balkans. Here is what I told journalists after the summit. And here is the press conference after last Monday’s Stabilisation and Association Council with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Trieste Summit was also the opportunity for a long conversation with Emmanuel Macron, on the Balkans and on Africa, on the situation in the Gulf and on European defence (here is the press release). I kept working with him on Thursday, in Paris, together with Angela Merkel. The President and the Chancellor were meeting for the Franco-German Ministerial Council, and together we launched a new Alliance for growth and security in the Sahel. Here is the document we signed together. In Paris I also met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and with the Ministers of Defence of France, Germany, Italy and Spain – Florence Parly, Ursula Von Der Leyen, Roberta Pinotti and Dolores Cospedal. Here is the press release on my meetings in Paris. On Wednesday, in Brussels, I received the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, after my visit...