I write after a week spent in Brussels, Strasbourg and Skopje. On Wednesday President Juncker gave his annual State of the Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Central to the speech was the new relationship between Europe and Africa: a cooperation between partners who have so many interests in common. Friday in Brussels I presented the main decisions we took, here is the video.
In Strasbourg I met with Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and together with him I took off to Skopje. The people I met in the city’s streets feel fully European – and they are. I told all of them that the referendum on September 30th – to confirm the agreement between Athens and Skopje on the name “North Macedonia” – is an extraordinary opportunity to make their voice heard and to show their desire to join the European Union. The country’s destiny is in their hands. Here is what I told journalists in Skopje.
At the European Parliament’s plenary session we worked on our relations with the United States on the 17th anniversary of 9/11, on China, Libya, Palestine, on how to regulate the military use of artificial intelligence, and some human rights violations in Uganda, Cambodia and Myanmar. I also restated the importance of the International Criminal Court, in a moment when some are questioning its very existence. I also met Members of the European Parliament that are part of the Union for the Mediterranean’s Parliamentary Assembly, to discuss our priorities in the region.
On Friday, back to Brussels, I chaired the Council of Development Ministers, where we continued our work on Africa. Then I met with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, first of all to discuss the situation in Idlib – here is the press release. I talked about Syria also with the Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, whom I met in Strasbourg: on top of that, we discussed how to strengthen his country, which is crucial for the Middle East and our entire region – press release here. We will continue working on Syria in one week time in New York, in the margins of the United Nations’ General Assembly.