United and determined

United and determined

I write after coming back from Tallinn, where I chaired the meeting of the European Union’s Foreign and Defence Ministers – at the end of a difficult week of international tensions, after the latest North Korean nuclear test. We managed to respond to these tensions with unity and determination, and with some important decisions – which I explain here. With the Foreign Minister we addressed the crisis in Venezuela, with a commitment to keep on with our contacts to help bring the crisis to an end – particularly our contacts with Latin-American partners. We also discussed the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and decided to start a review of the modalities of our engagement on the ground: we do not want to reduce our engagement, but on the contrary to make it more effective towards the only realistic goal to end the conflict, that is, a two-state solution. Another important point on our agenda, which we discussed with the Ministers of the five candidate countries to EU membership: the prevention of radicalisation and the fight against terrorism. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and here is my discussion with members of Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees from all around Europe to discuss the priorities of our common foreign and security policy. Because in Tallinn, over the last two days, we also carried on our work on the European common security and defence. First, with an exercise on cyber-security, together (for the first time) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; and then with some important decisions on strengthening our common European commitment in two essential regions for us: the Sahel and the Horn of...

Speech at the Hessian Peace Prize award ceremony

Check against delivery I would like to start by thanking you, Mr President [Mr Norbert Kartmann, President of the Hessian Parliament], Madam Minister [Ms Lucia Puttrich, Minister of European and Federal Affairs of the State of Hessen], all of you for your kind words, but most of all for this honour. I am also very thankful that you have come to Brussels for this ceremony – as you have highlighted this is the first time that this happens and I am very much aware of the fact that it does is not only a courtesy to myself, which I appreciate, but I know that this is first and foremost a tribute to the European Union, as you said Madam Minister, as a force for peace in our very difficult times. Two years after the deal with Iran [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] was signed, we see and we breathe a very different atmosphere in global affairs and in these days receiving this prize is quite significant. It is not always easy to find or to build the same spirit of collective responsibility that made the Iran deal possible. The work to achieve win-win solutions requires patience, perseverance, as you said, sometimes even stubbornness and a lot, a lot of strength. Many are tempted in these times to seek unilateral action, shortcut. Everyone seems to want to show their strength, instead of showing their wisdom. As if they were not the same. As if wisdom was not the biggest strength you can show, the most difficult to achieve, the most difficult to preserve and also the most difficult to share....
Back from Africa

Back from Africa

I write after coming back from Africa – my tenth visit in two years to sub-Saharan Africa, because that region is crucial to Europe, to the Mediterranean, and to the security of our continent. Liberia, first, where I met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the first woman to be elected as President of an African country – and I took part in the Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). This is a region where democracy is taking hold, with growing strength. This Community of States believes – as we Europeans do – that regional cooperation and integration are the best means to guarantee collective peace and security. We saw it in The Gambia, where the ECOWAS’ intervention allowed for a peaceful transition after the latest Presidential election. Here is my speech at the Summit (in English and French). The second stop of my visit was to Mali: a crucial country to the stability of the Sahel, North Africa and the Mediterranean, which is trying to recover from a civil war and to tackle the terrorist threat. The European Union provides a unique contribution to this region’s stability – and as a consequence, to our region’s stability: we mobilise humanitarian aid, but also incentives to private investments, a Trust Fund to address the causes that push men and women to leave their homes in the Sahel, and a fundamental support by our troops and security experts. I began with a visit to the two European missions – one civilian, one military – that are supporting the Malian armed and police forces as they take responsibility for their country’s security. I took part...