Two important achievements for the Europe of defence

Two important achievements for the Europe of defence

I write after a week spent in Brussels and in Turkey, which started with some important achievements in our work on the Europe of defence and ended today with the meeting of the 27 heads of government on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.

My week started with the meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers of the Union, with the participation – as usual – of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. On Tuesday we added two elements to our work for Europe to be more secure and a more effective global force for peace. We approved seventeen new projects in the framework of our Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence – from drones to a European school of intelligence, from cyber-security to aerospace. And we decided to strengthen the civilian dimension of our international missions – which is already today a European pride, from Mali to Ukraine, from Iraq to Somalia. We want to expand even more our civilian action, with new capacities and shorter reaction time.

We also discussed the future of Operation Sophia, our naval mission in the Mediterranean: all ministers confirmed their support to the Operation, but if there will be no agreement on its future in the coming few weeks, we will have to suspend it. Here is what I told journalists before the Council with Defence ministers, and the final press conference.

On Monday, with the Foreign Ministers, we talked about the war in Yemen – in a moment when a de-escalation seems possible, and after my phone call with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffith. We also worked on Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Central Asia. Here is what I said before and after the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday.

Our work on Central Asia continued on Friday with the ministers from the five countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Countries that stand at the crossroads of different worlds, and are seeking stronger relations with the European Union. On Friday I launched negotiations for an enhanced cooperation agreement with Uzbekistan; we decided with Tajikistan to open shortly negotiations for a similar agreement; and I announced the opening of a new EU Embassy in Turkmenistan. Press conference here.

On Tuesday I took part, at the European Parliament, in the ceremony for the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which we decided to celebrate together with the representatives of NGOs working on human rights. Here is my speech.

On Wednesday I opened the second edition of the EU-Australia Leadership Forum, which we created to build new contacts between leaders from politics, business and culture in Europe and in Australia. Here is my speech.

On Thursday I was in Ankara, for our political dialogue with Turkey. A difficult dialogue at times, but also an open and sincere one. Here is the press conference.

Today I was at the special European Council on Brexit with the 27 heads of government, which endorsed the agreement on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. It was a sad moment, but it came together with the decision to keep the strongest possible relationship with London – starting with our foreign policy. Here are the summit’s Conclusions.

Finally, during the week I also met with Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Marie Soreide, the Speaker of Kosovo’s Parliament Kadri Veseli, and the Sudanese Foreign Minister Ahmed al Dirdiri.