In Vienna, with our eyes on the Balkans, the Middle East and Iran

In Vienna, with our eyes on the Balkans, the Middle East and Iran

I write after coming back from Austria, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, where I chaired the informal meetings of European Foreign and Defence Ministers. We were in Vienna, the city where three years ago – after years of negotiations – we finalised the nuclear deal with Iran. There could be no better place to start a year, which we will dedicate to a great extent to protecting and strengthening the system of multilateral institutions. Deals like the one with Iran contribute to Europe’s security, and investing in this kind of “effective multilateralism” is the only way to truly defend the European citizens’ interests. Austria has decided to dedicate its semester of EU Presidency precisely to effective multilateralism, but also to our work with the Balkans: we talked about both issues with Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen (the video is here). In Vienna we were joined by the Foreign Ministers of the European Union’s candidate countries. We discussed our common work to protect and promote multilateralism, a few weeks before the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York. And we also discussed our continent’s security, together with representatives from NATO and the United Nations. Cooperation with the Balkans was also discussed in the informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers, together with NATO and the United Nations. With the Defence Ministers we worked on new common projects to strengthen the European Union’s defence: we will launch these projects thanks to the Permanent Structured Cooperation we created last year. With Defence and Foreign Ministers we discussed the future of Operation Sophia, our naval mission in the Mediterranean:...
In a confused world, a strong and reliable Europe

In a confused world, a strong and reliable Europe

I write at the end of a week when the European Union confirmed its role as a strong and reliable partner, in a moment of global confusion. We know who our friends and partners are, we know the European people’s interests, we believe in the power of multilateral diplomacy and dialogue: I spoke about this at the beginning of the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday in Brussels, here is the video. The work done this week demonstrates very clearly the European Union’s global role. From diplomacy to security and trade. We signed the largest ever free trade agreement in history, to strengthen our economy thanks to free and fair trade with Japan. We reconfirmed our cooperation with China in an important Summit. At the beginning of August I will be in Asia-Pacific to meet our regional partners, with a special focus on the situation in Korea. Last Monday and Tuesday we welcomed to Brussels the Foreign Ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean, for a European Union-CELAC ministerial meeting. We share interests and values with them: in this confused moment in the history of the world, we know we stand on the same side – the side of a more inclusive economic growth, multilateralism, international cooperation, the fight against climate change, and the promotion of human rights. Here is my speech opening the meeting, here the press conference and the final communique, here the award ceremony for some civil society organisations, here the meetings with the Pacific Alliance and the group of Caribbean countries, here my statement on the situation in Nicaragua. On Wednesday I gathered again in Brussels the delegations of Serbia and Kosovo, led by...
Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

Back from Libya. An intense week for NATO and the Balkans

I write after coming back from Libya, where we have just re-established a direct European Union’s presence: we have re-opened our Embassy and our mission to help Libyans control their borders. This is the result of years of common work with the Libyans and the United Nations: we have accompanied negotiations to end the crisis in the country, we have trained the Libyan coastguard through Operation Sophia, we have supported the Libyan people creating jobs and investing in education and healthcare, and we have freed thirty thousand migrants from detention centres in the country. Yesterday in Tripoli I met with Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj and Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala: we discussed the upcoming election and new European projects in the country. I met with the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame and the representatives of all UN agencies in the capital, but also with our Embassy’s staff, our EUBAM mission, and Libyans who manage projects financed by the European Union. Here is a press release, here my words in front of cameras in Tripoli. This week I also met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, the Union for the Mediterranean’s new Secretary General Nasser Kamel, and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah. It was also the week of the NATO Summit in Brussels, where we agreed on the next steps in the common work we are doing for Europe’s security – the EU and NATO together (here is our new EU-NATO Joint Declaration). At the Summit we discussed Afghanistan – and I met again with President Ashraf Ghani, press release here – and our common work against the terrorists...