From Africa to the Gulf. Then the new European Parliament’s first plenary

From Africa to the Gulf. Then the new European Parliament’s first plenary

I write after two weeks in Africa, the Gulf and in Strasbourg, for the first plenary of the new European Parliament. After my trip to Central Asia and the summit in Ukraine two weeks ago, I arrived in Burkina Faso for the fifth annual meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the five Sahel countries. These countries want to be stronger and more autonomous: it is our European interest to help build a stronger and more stable Sahel, so we will continue to support them both on economic development and on security issues. In Burkina I announced an extra 138 million euros in support to the G5 Sahel Joint military force – here is the press conference. The meeting with the G5 was also the opportunity for a bilateral visit to Burkina: there I met with President Roch Marc Kabore, Prime Minister Christophe Dabire and Foreign Minister Alpha Barry. But I also visited the French-Arab school El Bayane, which is financed by the European Union – because good education for children is the foundation of any strong country. From Burkina to Mali. On top of my meetings with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the government and Foreign Minister Tiébilé Dramé, I visited the central region of the country, where security is particularly fragile. There I met a group of local leaders and civil society representatives. It is up to the Malians to build a new era in the history of their country – an era of national dialogue and fight against terrorist – but we Europeans are ready to support them with all means at our disposal. Here is my press conference in Mali....
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,...
Back from the Horn of Africa. Now in Italy to vote

Back from the Horn of Africa. Now in Italy to vote

I write at the end of a week I have spent mostly in the Horn of Africa. It is a crucial area for our region’s and Europe’s stability – just think that 20 per cent of European trade with the world goes through the Strait of Aden. It is also a region that is living a moment of great change: on the one hand, the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the transition in Sudan; on the other, the growing rivalry among regional powers, which are competing also for the control of the Horn of Africa’s ports and waters. I begun my visit in Mogadishu, Somalia. I met first with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire and Foreign Minister Ahmed Issa Awad (here is what I told journalists after the meetings). Then I visited the headquarters of the two European missions in Somalia, which are training the Somali security forces: it is a vital contribution to the security of the Somali people and of the region, but also to Europe’s security. From Somalia to Kenya, one of the African continent’s economic engines and a crucial partner for Europe and the United Nations. There I met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Foreign Minister Monica Juma (press conference here) and Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i. In Nairobi I also inaugurated the new European Union’s embassy, the largest in Africa and the second in the world (here is my speech), and I met a group of young people and civil society representatives (video). Final stop in Djibuti, the strategic hub connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. I met with President Ismail Omar Guelleh...
In Brussels, a point of reference for our partners

In Brussels, a point of reference for our partners

I write at the end of a week when we have welcomed tens of ministers to Brussels, representing many of our closest partners. We started on Monday with Libya, in a meeting with Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj and a session of our Foreign Affairs Council together with the UN Special Envoy for Libya, Ghassam Salame: we discussed how to stop the fighting in the country and relaunch the UN-led political negotiations. Here is what I told journalists on Monday morning, here is the press release on my meeting with Serraj, and here is the statement with the 28 EU Member States. Libya was also one of the issues we discussed with the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the five Sahel countries – Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso – in a joint meeting on Tuesday with the European Union’s Foreign and Defence Ministers. We talked about how to strengthen the G5 Sahel joint military force, which is playing a crucial role in contrasting terrorism and organised crime in the region. Here is Tuesday’s press conference, where I talk about the Sahel. In the margins of the meeting, I met bilaterally with the ministers of all five countries. On Monday we also received a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. I had called for a meeting on the same day with the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the UK, to confirm our support to the nuclear deal with Iran: together we spelled out again the need to avoid an escalation of tensions and violence in the Gulf. Here is Monday’s press conference on Iran and Pompeo’s visit....