Two important decisions, one historic mistake

Two important decisions, one historic mistake

I write after a difficult European Council: the heads of State and government have postponed the decision to open negotiations for Albania’s and North Macedonia’s accession to the European Union, in spite of the extraordinary progress achieved by both countries and against the European Commission’s advice. It is much more than a lost opportunity: it is a historic mistake, which I hope can be amended as soon as possible. The Council has also taken two important decisions: it approved the new agreement with London on the UK’s exit from the European Union; and it confirmed the decisions we had adopted on Monday with the Foreign Ministers on Turkey’s military intervention in Syria. Our response to Ankara’s attack against Syrian Kurds has been strong and united. Not only have we condemned the invasion: we have also decided that Member States will stop selling arms to Turkey – each of them respecting their national legislations – and we have adopted economic sanctions to respond to Turkey’s activities off the cost of Cyprus. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, and here is what I told journalists at the beginning of the day. Last week, at the European Parliament, I had already clarified another point: if Turkey decided to transfer hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in a so-called “safe zone” in north-east Syria, to replace the local population, we would never give our financial support to such operation. Here is my speech in the Parliament. On the day when the US withdrawal from north-east Syria was announced I was in Jordan, where I met King Abdullah, Crown Prince...
From the Western Balkans Summit to Central Asia, from Ukraine to the Sahel

From the Western Balkans Summit to Central Asia, from Ukraine to the Sahel

I write as I arrive in Burkina Faso and the Sahel, where I will meet our regional partners. Until this morning I was in Kyiv, Ukraine, for the 21st summit between the European Union and Ukraine – the first since the election of Volodymyr Zelensky, and the sign of a uniquely close partnership. We discussed the reforms that the Ukrainian citizens are asking to their government, but also the situation in the east of the country, in Crimea and in the Sea of Azov, on top of trade and energy security. Here is our joint statement. Last Friday I was in Poznan, Poland, for the summit with our six partners in the Western Balkans: the whole region’s integration inside the European Union is first and foremost our own interest, and cooperation among the “Western Balkans Six” is essential to facilitate their path towards the European Union. Here is my interview in Poznan with Radio Free Europe, and here is our press release. Over the weekend I was once again in Central Asia: in these years, we have built ever stronger ties with this region. In Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, I announced the opening of an EU embassy to the country – the fifth in the five countries of Central Asia. Here is my press conference with Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov and my statement to the local press. Then off to Bishkek, in Kyrgyzstan, for the ministerial meeting between the European Union and Central Asia. These five countries see Europe as an essential point of reference and are asking us to get more and more engaged in Central Asia. I spoke about it in the press...
A partner for Asia’s security, and for peace and democracy in Venezuela

A partner for Asia’s security, and for peace and democracy in Venezuela

I write at the end of a week dedicated mostly to cooperation with our Asian partners, to Venezuela, and the Western Balkans’ path towards the European Union. Last weekend I was in Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue – one of the major conferences in the world on security and defence. Today Europe’s and Asia’s security are linked: just think of the situation in Afghanistan, at trade routes in the Indian Ocean, or at our common need to prevent nuclear proliferation. This is why in these years we have strengthened ever more our cooperation with Asian partners. In Singapore I took part in a public debate on the situation in Korea, together with the Defence Ministers of the Republic of Korea and Japan (here is the video). It was also the opportunity to meet several important partners: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan; but also the Defence Ministers of China Wei Fenghe, of South Korea Jeong Kyeong-doo, of Vietnam Ngô Xuân Lịch, of New Zealand Ron Mark, and of Australia Linda Reynolds. Press release here. And here is my interview on Channel News Asia. From Singapore to New York, for a meeting between the International Contact Group we have created on Venezuela, and the representatives of the Lima Group. This is part of the Contact Group’s outreach to the main international interlocutors, to support a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela. Here is our joint statement, and here a press release on the meeting. Back to Brussels, I celebrated with a lot of American and European friends the anniversary of D-Day and our continent’s liberation from nazi-fascism,...