Some good news to begin 2019

Some good news to begin 2019

The year has started with some good news: on Friday, Skopje’s Parliament voted – with a large majority – to modify the Constitution and change the country’s name to “Republic of North Macedonia,” as agreed last summer with Greece. It is the demonstration that, with courage and determination, even the longest conflicts can come to an end. And it is a decisive step forward for North Macedonia on the path towards the European Union. Now it is for the Greek Parliament to move forward, and then for the heads of government of the Union: it is time to open negotiations for the accession of North Macedonia – and of Albania, too – to our Union. Here is my statement. Last Tuesday I also met with the delegation appointed by Kosovo’s Parliament for dialogue with Serbia: a sign of their willingness to resume the path towards a normalisation of relations between Pristina and Belgrade. Press release here. During the week I spoke with the new UN envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, to confirm Europe’s support to his work and invite him to Brussels (press release here), and I met with the President of the Emirati Parliament, Amal al Qubaisi. On behalf of the Twenty-eight, I reacted to the inauguration of Nicolas Maduro’s new mandate in Venezuela – a mandate stemming from elections that were neither free nor democratic. Here is our...
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...
Good news from the Balkans and Asia

Good news from the Balkans and Asia

I write at the end of a week that I spent working with many of our partners – from our Eastern neighbours to the countries of South-East Asia, with some important results and good news. On Friday evening the Parliament in Skopje took a step towards changing the country’s name to “North Macedonia”, as agreed with Greece last summer. This is an essential moment for our continent’s stability and towards negotiations for the future North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union. Here is my statement. The second piece of good news is that we signed a trade agreement with Singapore: it is a new kind of agreement, for our trade to be free and fair at the same time – with more protection for workers, for our trademarks and for the environment. More details here. We signed the deal with Singapore in the margins of the Europe-Asia Summit, a meeting of 51 countries from our two continents. Among other issues, we worked in particular on North Korea, particularly together with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and on making our trade relations stronger and fairer. Here is the press release on all my meetings in the margins of the summit and on a deal to protect Vietnam’s environment. My week started in Luxembourg, at the meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers. Together with the ministers, I met with Filippo Grandi and Antonio Vitorino, who lead the two UN Agencies for refugees and migrants (UNHCR and IOM). Our work on this file continued in Brussels, at the European Council with the 28 EU heads of State and government: they confirmed their strong support...
At the UN General Assembly: Iran, Syria, Israel and Palestine

At the UN General Assembly: Iran, Syria, Israel and Palestine

Yesterday I wrote about my week at the UN General Assembly in New York. Today I’d like to say more about the work done to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, to restart peace negotiations for Syria, and to keep alive and relaunch the two-State solution for Israel and Palestine. Saving Iran deal, for our common security In New York I gathered the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran, to take note once again that Iran is respecting its commitments, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Together we are working on a mechanism that would let our firms continue working in Iran. I talked about it at the press conference after our meeting (here), with Fareed Zakaria at the Bloomberg Global Forum, and with Christiane Amanpour on CNN. The deal with Iran is working, and multilateral negotiations are a necessary path also to solve the Korean issue: this is what I said at the meeting on the nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Our contribution to help restart the Syria talks in Geneva The war in Syria can only end with an agreement among Syrians, negotiated in the framework provided by the United Nations. In New York we worked to give new impetus to the talks led by Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy, and Staffan was our guest at the European Union’s Foreign Ministers meeting – I talked about it with journalists, here. Then we gathered ministers from over fifty countries – from the United States to Russia, from Turkey and Iran to the Arab world – to discuss how to support the UN work. And...