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...
Strasbourg

Strasbourg

I write at the end of a week marked by the terrorist attack in Strasbourg – a city that for centuries was at the centre stage of European wars, and for seventy years has been a symbol of peace, thanks to the European Union. One of the victims is Antonio Megalizzi, a young man who felt both Italian and European. The best way to honour his memory is to believe and to invest in our Union, with Antonio’s same enthusiasm and passion. In those hours I was also in Strasbourg, speaking on the floor of the European Parliament. We were reached by the news of the attack as we were discussing the situation in Ukraine (here is what I said). We had also discussed the situation in Ukraine with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, whom we hosted at the EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting. Back to Brussels, I met with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. And I discussed Ukraine with the EU heads of state and government, at the European Council on Thursday and Friday. These are the other issues I discussed at the European Parliament’s plenary session: two reports on our foreign and defence policies; the case of Selahattin Demirtas, the opposition leader detained in Turkey; and the annual report on our work for human rights around the world. On Monday, at the EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting, we also discussed how to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, the Balkans, our work with the African Union, and Venezuela. Here is what I told journalists before the Foreign Affairs Council, and the final press conference. Speaking of Venezuela: on Wednesday I met with...