The only way to protect our national interest

The only way to protect our national interest

I write at the end of a week when I have worked mostly on security, migration and economic development. Today the public debate focuses very much on national interest and on national security. But in our world there is only one way to protect our national interest, and that is to cooperate with partners outside our borders, to build solid alliances, to invest in multilateralism and international cooperation. For this reason, on Monday, I gather for the forth time the Foreign Ministers of five countries in the Sahel – a crucial region for Europe’s security and for governing migration flows. Here is my press conference with the Foreign Minister of Niger Kalla Ankourao, who holds the G5 Sahel’s presidency: we discussed our contribution to the joint military force of the five countries, our support to regional economy, and our help to tens of thousands migrants to build a new life in their countries of origin. There is one threat to our security that is very often underestimated: it is the threat coming from climate change, which is already bringing insecurity and instability across the world, including at Europe’s doorstep. We discussed it yesterday in Brussels at the ministerial conference I hosted on climate and security – here is my speech at the conference. The conference was also the opportunity for a long meeting with Sushma Swaraj, the Foreign Minister of India – press release here. Last Wednesday I chaired the Partnership Council with Armenia (here is the press conference with Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan), and during the week I agreed to enhance our cooperation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation...
Working to save the deal with Iran

Working to save the deal with Iran

I write from Sofia, Bulgaria, after days when the entire European Union, together, has worked non-stop on the nuclear deal with Iran and tensions in the Middle East. As the European Union, we believe that the US decision to withdraw from Iran deal is a mistake. The deal is working, as certified eleven times by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it is strategic for our security. So we are determined to preserve it, and united in our determination. Here are my words after the US announcement, and here is the declaration I made on behalf of all 28 EU States. On Tuesday I gathered in Brussels the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom – the three European countries that negotiated the deal together with the US, Russia and China. We decided to start working on a package of measures to protect the deal, to make sure that Iranian citizens can enjoy the benefits of it, and to safeguard our economic interests. Our goal is to maintain and deepen our economic ties – including with new projects, starting with energy and transport – while defending and incentivising small and medium enterprises investing in Iran. The same unanimous will to respect the deal was confirmed last night in Sofia, by the 28 heads of State and government of the European Union. They also agreed on the measures we had put forward yesterday morning at the European Commission’s meeting in Brussels, which I presented to them together with President Jean-Claude Juncker. The first step, tomorrow, will be to launch the procedure to activate...

Some good news from the Balkans

Today I am writing from Toronto, where I arrived for the annual meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers – which this year is hosted by Canada. This coming week will be dedicated mostly to this, to the Conference on the future of Syria we will host in Brussels together with the United Nations, and to the NATO Ministerial meeting. The week that just ended was also particularly intense for me: it started last Sunday in Saudi Arabia, where I had the honour to open the Arab League Summit. From there I travelled to Luxembourg, to chair on Monday an important Foreign Affairs Council dedicated to Syria (here is the text of the conclusions we adopted, here is my speech on Syria at the European Parliament on the following day), to our relations with Russia, to Iran and the Balkans (here are my press points before and after the Council). The day after, in Strasbourg, we adopted as European Commission our annual report on our six partners in the Balkans, and specific recommendations on each of them: this year, we decided to recommend to open negotiations for EU membership with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (here is the report, and here is my press conference in Strasbourg). I decided to bring the news from Strasbourg directly to Tirana and Skopje, to immediately discuss the next steps. My visit to the region continued in Montenegro and in Serbia, the two countries that are already negotiating their membership of the European Union. In Skopje I also met with the Prime Ministers of all six our Balkan partners (press release here). In Albania I met with the President of the Republic, Ilir...
A force for peace, from the Balkans to Afghanistan

A force for peace, from the Balkans to Afghanistan

I have spent this week travelling between Central Asia, the Balkans and Brussels. First I was in Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, to open the international conference for peace in Afghanistan together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev. It was an important moment, to gather international support for President Ghani’s proposal for negotiations between his government and the Taliban. I announced the European Union’s readiness to accompany this process with all our power – political, diplomatic and economic – to help rebuild the fabric of the Afghan society, its democracy, and to strengthen cooperation and connectivity between Afghanistan and its neighbours. Here is my speech at the opening of the Conference. The Tashkent Conference was also the opportunity to meet bilaterally with President Ghani (here is the press release) and President Mirziyoyev, but also with India’s Foreign Minister MJ Akbar, Pakistan’s Muhammad Asif, and the five Central Asian Foreign Ministers: with them, we worked to push forward the decision we took in our meeting in Samarkand at the end of last year. Press release here. From Uzbekistan to Belgrade, to discuss with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about the future of the dialogue with Pristina – facilitated by the European Union – after a very serious episode of tension happened in Kosovo last Monday. Here is our joint statement. Back to Brussels, on Wednesday: together with the European Commission we approved a plan to remove obstacles – both physical and bureaucratic – that make it difficult for European militaries to move within our continent. This is part of the work we have carried on over the last two years towards a Europe of defence. Press release here. In Brussels I also had the pleasure to receive Finland’s...