At work on the Balkans, Ukraine and the Middle East

At work on the Balkans, Ukraine and the Middle East

I write at the end of a week spent in Brussels – at work mostly on the Balkans, Ukraine and the Middle East. My week started with the Association Council with Ukraine: together with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, we talked about the situation in Crimea and the Sea of Azov, but also about the economic and anti-corruption reforms that the government is carrying on with the European Union’s support. Here is the press conference after the meeting, here is the press release. Then, a series of meetings with our partners in the Balkans. On Wednesday I hosted an informal lunch with the six leaders from the region: we discussed the work ahead to consolidate their path towards the European Union. They all confirmed their support to last summer’s agreement between Greece and the future Northern Macedonia, and to the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. I also met separately with Skopje’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Montenegro’s President Milo Dukanovic, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj for the Association Council with Kosovo (press release here, and here is the statement on Pristina’s decision to change the Kosovo Security Forces’ mandate), and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic for the Association Council with Serbia (press conference here). On Thursday I chaired the Association Council with Egypt – this is the press conference with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri: we discussed cooperation among our countries, but also – and mainly – the situation in the region, in particular tensions in Israel and Palestine. It is a delicate moment for the Middle East: on the one hand, the attempts to bring an end to the war in Yemen (here is...
Europe and Canada, closer than ever

Europe and Canada, closer than ever

I write at the end of a week spent in Montreal and in Brussels. One and a half years ago we agreed on a “strategic partnership” with Canada – in other words, we decided to bring our political, economic and diplomatic cooperation to the highest level. In Montreal, earlier this week, I met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. With her I discussed all the main issues on the international agenda – from our work to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran to the situation in Ukraine – and our bilateral relations. Here is what I said opening our ministerial meeting and the final press conference. With Chrystia we also met a group of students, discussing with them Europe’s and Canada’s shared priorities on the international stage – the video is here. And still together, we took part in the “Most Powerful Women” annual summit organised by Fortune – more info here. Back to Brussels, I was at the “Africa week” organised by the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament. It was also the opportunity to meet again with President Roch Kaboré of Burkina Faso: with him, I talked about the partnership between Europe and Africa “beyond migration”. Here is the video and here is the press release on our meeting. Then, on Thursday, I chaired the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, with Presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci. Press release here. During the week I met with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Director Fernando Arias and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on violence against women Dubravka Šimonović. Like every year,...