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...
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...
National sovereignty today needs the European Union

National sovereignty today needs the European Union

I write after a week spent in Strasbourg and Brussels. First at the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners and the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg: we worked on the tragic case of Jamal Khashoggi, killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (here is my speech in Strasbourg, here the statement we released with the G7 Foreign Ministers), on the situation in Crimea and the Sea of Azov (video here), and on how to support a political process to end the crisis in Venezuela (video). More work on America Latina as I came back to Brussels: I met with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque – here is the press conference with him and Jean-Claude Juncker. In Brussels I joined the meeting of the Member States’ Chiefs of Defence, where we discussed our common work for European defence; I took part in the meeting of Catholic bishops who lead national Bishops’ Conferences all across Europe (at the annual COMECE conference); and I inaugurated an installation to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The installation was hosted in New York and Geneva before, the two cities of the United Nations: we have now welcomed it in Brussels, at the heart of European institutions, to symbolise the close friendship between the UN and the EU – video here. Finally, yesterday in Milan I met with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and together with him I spoke at the Democratic Party’s national Forum – here is my speech, in Italian, on why in today’s world European countries need the European Union to strengthen their national...
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...