I write after a week spent travelling between Brussels, Trieste and Paris, working on five important issues for security and growth in our continent: the Balkans, the Sahel, our common defence, our relations with Russia, and the Mediterranean.
First, our relations with the Balkans. In Trieste we met with the leaders of our six Balkan partners that are not yet part of the European Union. Together we launched a clear message: the door of the European Union is open to the Balkans, and the path towards a unified Europe continues. But we also worked on some practical projects for regional cooperation, to improve transports and increase exchanges in the Balkans. Here is what I told journalists after the summit. And here is the press conference after last Monday’s Stabilisation and Association Council with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Trieste Summit was also the opportunity for a long conversation with Emmanuel Macron, on the Balkans and on Africa, on the situation in the Gulf and on European defence (here is the press release). I kept working with him on Thursday, in Paris, together with Angela Merkel. The President and the Chancellor were meeting for the Franco-German Ministerial Council, and together we launched a new Alliance for growth and security in the Sahel. Here is the document we signed together.
In Paris I also met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and with the Ministers of Defence of France, Germany, Italy and Spain – Florence Parly, Ursula Von Der Leyen, Roberta Pinotti and Dolores Cospedal. Here is the press release on my meetings in Paris.
On Wednesday, in Brussels, I received the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, after my visit to Moscow last April. There are issues we strongly disagree upon, starting with the situation in Ukraine. But dialogue between the European Union and Russia is essential to tackle all the major crises of today’s world. On Syria, we agree on the need to turn the ceasefire in the south-east of the country into a national truce, towards a political solution to the crisis. We also talked about North Korea, Libya, the Balkans the situation in Israel and Palestine, and the need to keep implementing and to preserve the deal with Iran – here is our press conference.
One final point, no less important. On Monday I chaired the Association Council with Jordan, a crucial partner for the European Union: our contacts are getting closer and more constant, and we share the same approach to all regional issues, from Syria to the crisis in the Gulf. Here is the press conference. On Monday I also met with a group of civil society representatives from the Mediterranean countries. Because we need to talk to governments, but there can be no true national reconciliation or sustainable development if society and citizens are not in the lead. Here is the video of our meeting.
More on the Mediterranean and the Middle East: yesterday we took a small but important step forward, gathering in Jerusalem the Envoys of the Middle East Quartet – European Union, United States, Russia and the United Nations. Here is the press release.
Finally, one memory. Two years ago today, we reached the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, after long years of negotiations. A success for international diplomacy, for the European Union, for security in the region. Two years on, the deal has been fully implemented. And the European Union will continue to guarantee that this is the case. Here is my statement.