National sovereignty today needs the European Union

National sovereignty today needs the European Union

I write after a week spent in Strasbourg and Brussels. First at the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners and the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg: we worked on the tragic case of Jamal Khashoggi, killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (here is my speech in Strasbourg, here the statement we released with the G7 Foreign Ministers), on the situation in Crimea and the Sea of Azov (video here), and on how to support a political process to end the crisis in Venezuela (video). More work on America Latina as I came back to Brussels: I met with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque – here is the press conference with him and Jean-Claude Juncker. In Brussels I joined the meeting of the Member States’ Chiefs of Defence, where we discussed our common work for European defence; I took part in the meeting of Catholic bishops who lead national Bishops’ Conferences all across Europe (at the annual COMECE conference); and I inaugurated an installation to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The installation was hosted in New York and Geneva before, the two cities of the United Nations: we have now welcomed it in Brussels, at the heart of European institutions, to symbolise the close friendship between the UN and the EU – video here. Finally, yesterday in Milan I met with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and together with him I spoke at the Democratic Party’s national Forum – here is my speech, in Italian, on why in today’s world European countries need the European Union to strengthen their national...

Korea, Syria, Libya: three meetings on the road to peace

I write on my way to Cairo: together with the Arab League, the African Union and the United Nations I will take part in a meeting of the Libya Quartet – which we prepared last Thursday in Brussels with UN Special Envoy Ghassan Salame. Last week was intense and important. First and foremost, because of the historic meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas: it was a sign that it is always possible to start walking on the road to peace, even after over sixty years of conflict, if one has the courage of dialogue and diplomacy. I wrote about this here. And here is the press release on my meeting last Wednesday with Japan’s Foreign Minister Tarō Kōno. But it was also the week of the second Brussels Conference on the future of Syria, which I chaired together with the United Nations. In Brussels we mobilised over four billion dollars for 2018, to support Syrians inside and outside their country. And even more importantly, we worked to help the United Nations relaunch the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, and find a political solution to end the war. We gave voice to the Syrian civil society: they showed us that they can leave aside their differences – political, ethnic and social – to walk on the path towards peace and reconciliation. And we brought to the same table all the regional and international actors – from Saudi Arabia to Iran, from Turkey to Russia and the United States. We decided to open the conference listening to the words of Farah, a Syrian girl who lives in a camp in Jordan and dreams to become a teacher. It...
For a political solution to the war in Syria

For a political solution to the war in Syria

I write on my way back from Saudi Arabia, where I took part – for the second time in a row – in the annual summit of the Arab League. This year’s summit was even more important than the usual ones, in such a delicate moment for the war in Syria. The European Union is always opposed to the use of chemical weapons – we repeated it right after last week’s attack in the outskirts of Damascus – and we support the efforts to prevent new chemical attacks. At the same time, we know that the only possible solution to the Syrian tragedy is a political solution, not military, through the Geneva negotiations led by the United Nations. This is the position of the entire European Union – and I restated it yesterday, on behalf of all 28 countries of the Union, with this declaration. Today, in Saudi Arabia, I spoke about this – and about the other regional crises – with the UN Special Envoy Staffan del Mistura and with many of our regional interlocutors: Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the King of Jordan Abdullah II, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the Emir of Kuwait Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al Sisi, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj, the Foreign Ministers of Iraq Ibrahim al Jaafari, of Kuwait Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah​, and of Morocco Nasser Bourita, the Secretary Generals of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, and of the African Union, Moussa Faki. In just over a week, we will host – as European Union – the second Brussels Conference on the future of Syria. It will be...
Real progress on European defence

Real progress on European defence

Over the last few days our work has been particularly intense, with important and concrete results on European defence. We have taken practical steps forward, which only one year ago would have seemed impossible to achieve. Last Thursday, in Brussels, we set up the first single command centre for European military training and advisory missions. When we began to talk about it, a few months ago, I was told it would have taken us years before we could establish it. We have made it in just a few weeks. Here is the official press release. The same day I travelled to Zaragoza, in Spain, to inaugurate the first European military airlift training centre. Until a few years ago, aircrews from European countries had to be trained in the United States. Today they finally get the training they need here in Europe, in a common structure for all Member States – which is already generating some interest outside the European Union. Here is my speech in Zaragoza. The day before, on Wednesday, I was in Brussels to officially launch the European Defence Fund, which will finance common projects for military research and our defence industry (here is the press conference with Jyrki Katainen). All these are real steps towards a European Union of security and defence: this is the best response to the European citizens’ and our partners’ need for security, but also to those who accuse our Union to be too slow and bureaucratic. Things can change, when there is the political will to make them change for the better. I talked about this at the Prague Security Conference on Friday (here is my speech),...