The European way to peace and security – from Venezuela to the Middle East

The European way to peace and security – from Venezuela to the Middle East

I write as I travel from Germany to Egypt, with an eye on Venezuela. The contact group that we have created with European and Latin American countries has started to work earlier this week, to support a peaceful and democratic way out to the crisis. It is the only possible way – as we repeated with the European Union’s ministers, in today’s declaration that I made on behalf of the European Union and last Monday at the Foreign Affairs Council. Last Monday, with the EU Foreign Ministers, we also discussed the other crises we are working to end, as a matter of priority. We talked about the the positive developments in the Horn of Africa, and the situation in Ukraine and Syria, with the preparations for the third Brussels Conference we will host in mid-March – press conference here. And ahead of the Brussels Conference, I met with the new UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen – press release here. Our meeting on Monday started with a piece of good news: we received the official notification of North Macedonia’s new name, and this week I met again with Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani. Greece and North Macedonia reached an agreement thanks to the courage of their leaders and citizens, and thanks to the power of dialogue – I talked about it here and here is the press release on my meeting with Osmani. Dialogue and collaboration are the essence of the partnerships that the European Union has built around the world. With the United States and NATO, for instance. On Tuesday, I received in Brussels Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the...
Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

Twelve things to bring with us in 2019

First day of the year, and as usual I have decided to look back at the best moments of the last twelve months. 2018 ended on a sad note: a few days ago the world lost Amos Oz – an Israeli writer who never stopped believing in the possibility of peace and of the two-state solution. Oz once wrote: “There is no need to establish whose fault it was, whose blindness it was that caused the tragedy. What we need is to find a way out of the mire.” I would like to keep this lesson in mind as the new year begins. Against all the difficulties in our world and our times, we can try to build little big solutions, together with those who have the will and the possibility to do so. We know that great changes can start with small steps forward. This is also the common thread in the twelve moments from 2018 that I bring with me in the new year. These moments show that the European Union has become an indispensable point of reference, globally. And they let us look at the future with hope, in spite of all difficulties.   The Lake Prespa agreement In June I was at the border between Greece and the future North Macedonia, for the signature of an historic agreement between Athens and Skopje: thanks to the leadership and the courage of their Prime Ministers – Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev – the two countries have solved an issue that had poisoned their relationship for decades. The agreement sent a message of peace for the whole of...
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...
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...
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...