On my way to Central Asia, for peace in Afghanistan

On my way to Central Asia, for peace in Afghanistan

I write on my way to Tashkent – in Central Asia, Uzbekistan – where together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani I will open an international conference to help start a peace process in Afghanistan. Last week began with the Council of EU Foreign Ministers – where we worked on Syria, North Korea, the nuclear deal with Iran, Ukraine and our reaction to the Salisbury attack. Here is what I told journalists before the Foreign Affairs Council, and here the final press conference. This is the press point with the Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha: she was our guest at the Council to discuss how the European Union can keep supporting and accompanying diplomacy in the Korean peninsula. At the Council we were also joined by Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria: we prepared the second Brussels conference on Syria, that we will host in exactly one month. We will gather the international community to tackle the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the country, mobilising resources to finance aid, but also to try and relaunch the peace talks in Geneva and put an end to the war. I also discussed Syria with the International Red Cross’ Peter Maurer, on Wednesday. With the EU Foreign Ministers we also discussed our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran – a few days after the signatories to the deal once again confirmed, from Vienna, that Iran is implementing all its commitments. This was also certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, with ten reports: and on Tuesday, in Brussels, I talked about this with Yukiya Amano, the Agency’s Director. More on the Middle East: on...
A visit to Kyiv. Then at work on Syria and the Middle East

A visit to Kyiv. Then at work on Syria and the Middle East

I write at the end of a week I’ve spent in Kyiv, Strasbourg and Rome. First in Ukraine, last Sunday and Monday, to talk about the reforms the government has launched in the last years and about the war in the eastern part of the country. Today the European Union and Ukraine are closer than ever, but there is still a lot to do to tackle the issues that the people of Ukraine care the most about – starting with the fight against corruption. This is what I discussed with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, but also with civil society representatives and a group of students at Taras Shevchenko University in Kyiv – here is our conversation. The situation in Donbass and Crimea was at the core of my meetings with the Minister for temporarily occupied territories Vadym Chernysh, with the head of the OSCE monitoring mission in Donbass, with the OSCE representative to the Trilateral contact group and with the International Red Cross. We will discuss the situation in Ukraine also in our Foreign Affairs Council next Monday – here is our declaration confirming our non-recognition policy on the illegal annexation of Crimea, on the annexation’s fourth anniversary. From Eastern Europe to the Middle East: I dedicated the second part of the week mostly to the situation in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. On Tuesday I was in Strasbourg for the European Parliament’s plenary: we discussed the situation in Eastern Ghouta and Afrin, and the work we are doing not onky to bring some relief to the Syrian people, but also to restart the peace talks in Geneva. Here is my speech in the plenary and the Q&A...
The Balkans’ path towards the European Union

The Balkans’ path towards the European Union

I write after a week dedicated mostly to the Balkans, the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and Latin America. Last Tuesday in Strasbourg, we presented – as European Commission – our Strategy to support the path towards the European Union of our six Balkan partners. Because the Balkans are part of our continent, of our history, and hold a place in the future of our Union. Here is the text of the Strategy, here is the press conference, and here is my remarks in the European Parliament’s plenary session. Last week, in Brussels, I had also met the three members of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Presidency – Dragan Čović, Mladen Ivanić and Bakir Izetbegović. Here is the press release. At the plenary in Strasbourg we also discussed our support to the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA, here is my speech), after last week I had gathered in Brussels the group of international donors to Palestine. For the first time after the recent tensions, we all sat around the same table – with the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also with the United States and our Arab partners. Here is the  press conference after the meeting. On the sides of the meeting I had the opportunity to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki, the Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi, the US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Ayman al Safadi, of Egyot, Sameh Shoukri, of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and of Norway, Ine Eriksen Søreide, and UNRWA’s General Commissioner Pierre Krähenbühl. Last week had started with a meeting with MERCOSUR ministers: we pushed forward...
Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

Mission accomplished on European defence. And we’re already back to work

I write after a historic week for the European Union. Last Monday, with the Foreign Ministers of the Union, we officially launched a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence among 25 European Member States: it is a binding commitment to invest together, to strengthen our defence industry together, to act together for peace and security. We start with 17 projects for practical cooperation – I have talked about it at the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg. On Thursday, at the European Council, we celebrated this success with the heads of State and government. But the work has already restarted: on Wednesday night I was with Javier Solana and Joschka Fischer – two great Europeans who have worked a lot to relaunch our Union on foreign and defence policy – and I presented six ideas on the next steps for European defence. Now we have the right tools, and we have a duty to explore their potential at full. Here is my speech. On Friday, then, I had the pleasure to go back to NATO headquarters together with the people who work with me everyday, as guests of Jens Stoltenberg and his team. It was a way to show that a stronger European defence goes hand in hand with a stronger cooperation between the European Union and NATO. But last week we didn’t only work on defence. Last Monday I welcomed to Brussels the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, together with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers. I was the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister in Brussels in over twenty years: today Israel and the European Union are tied by a strong friendship, which allows us to be very open about our disagreements. On Jerusalem,...
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...