One week at work with the Balkans, a crucial year for the region

One week at work with the Balkans, a crucial year for the region

I write on my way to South-East Asia: to Bangladesh first, where I will visit one of the camps hosting the Rohingya refugees; then to Myanmar, for the Asia-Europe Ministerial meeting. I spent the last few days – after the historic decision to launch a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence – working with our partners from the Balkans. 2018 can be a crucial year for the whole region, on its path towards the European Union. And we want to accompany them on this path with a new European Union’s strategy for the Balkans, which we will set up in February. All our partners have taken significant steps forward – steps they can now consolidate, making their progress towards the European Union irreversible. Skopje, for instance, managed to end a long political crisis and is now carrying forward important reforms. On Tuesday I met with Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov – here is the press release. On Wednesday I chaired the Stabilisation and Association Council with Albania, together with Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati. Tirana has launched some crucial reforms on justice, on the fight against corruption, organised crime and drugs trafficking. And on all foreign policy issues, the European Union and Albania are 100% on the same page. Also for these reasons, I confirmed our determination to move forward Albania’s integration process – here is the press conference after the Council. On Thursday I chaired the Stabilisation and Association Council with Serbia, together with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. With her and with President Aleksandar Vučić, the day before, I had discussed Serbia’s progress towards the European Union: the Serbian government is showing the political...
Maastricht, the Balkans, Africa

Maastricht, the Balkans, Africa

I write after a week spent mostly in Brussels, working on Africa, on the Balkans and the future of the European Union. On Thursday I celebrated twenty-five years since the Treaty of Maastricht, in the very hall where it was signed, with university students from all around Europe. In Maastricht we stopped being just a free trade area, and became a Union. From that moment on, we are not only customers, but citizens – with plenty of rights but also with the responsibility to always contribute to making our Union work. Here is the video of my speech. The Treaty of Maastricht spoke about “ending the divisions of the European continent:” not just a dream, but a concrete goal. And our continent will not be truly united until all our partners in the Balkans are not part of the European Union. This week we have continued to work for all our six partners to take irreversible steps on their path towards the European Union. On Friday I met with the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Behgjet Pacolli: here is the press release. Over the week we also had two meetings and one important achievement on Africa. On Wednesday I opened the “Africa week” organised by the group of the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament. The hashtag for the event, #withAfrica, perfectly sums up the transition we are working on, from a donor-recipient mentality to a full partnership between the European Union and Africa. Here is my speech. With the same spirit, this week our new European External Investment Plan has become reality: a program to help European firms – including small and medium enterprises –...
At the United Nations’ General Assembly

At the United Nations’ General Assembly

I write after coming back from New York, where just like every year I took part in the the United Nations’ General Assembly ministerial week. It is a moment to show the European Union’s practical support to the multilateral system and the United Nations – the essential pivot towards peaceful solutions to today’s crises. It was an intense week, difficult at times, with many important achievements but also some tough moments. Starting with the tensions between the United States and Iran. Defending Iran deal On Wednesday night I chaired the meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Iran and the six countries that, two years ago, negotiated the deal on Iran’s nuclear program – the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK. Together we confirmed that Iran is fulfilling the agreements, as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified eight times. It is up to the IAEA to verify that all nuclear commitments are being implemented: this is what the deal states, together with a Resolution by the UN Security Council. For this reason, the deal belongs to the whole world, not just to one or two countries, and the European Union will do everything in our power to guarantee the deal is fully implemented by all. This is the message I delivered in my meetings with the Vice-President of the United States Mike Pence, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov. Here is my press conference on Iran, here my interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. For global non-proliferation In a moment when tension with North Korea continue, it would make no sense to dismantle a non-proliferation deal that is working...
United on the challenge posed by North Korea

United on the challenge posed by North Korea

I write from Slovenia, where I am on official visit and I will take part in the Bled Strategic Forum: in Bled I will meet, among others, Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO). I will discuss with them how to best strengthen the global non-proliferation system, which we Europeans strongly support, and we will also talk about the latest tests by Pyongyang. Last week ended with the latest challenge by North Korea against the international community, a new threat against global peace and security. The international community needs to preserve its unity: all decisions must be taken by the United Nations’ Security Council, to increase the diplomatic and economic pressure, and to avoid dangerous military reactions. Right after the nuclear test, I talked to the Foreign Ministers of Japan, Taro Kono, and of the Republic of Korea, Kang Kyung-wha, to coordinate our action ahead of the next steps by the European Union: we will discuss these steps in Tallinn on Thursday, at the informal meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers. Here is the press release. In an increasingly chaotic world, the demand for a strong and reliable European Union has also increased exponentially over the last year. I see it every day in my work, and so do the 140 Heads of the European Union’s Delegations around the world. They all gathered in Brussels last week for our annual Ambassadors Conference. It was the opportunity to go through our priorities: from European defence to the fight against terrorism, from migration to the...