I write after we spent the first part of this week working mostly on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Last Monday, with the Foreign Ministers of the Union, we welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Brussels – after hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last December.
We confirmed to Abbas our commitment to a solution of the conflict based on two States: the State of Israel, with West Jerusalem as its capital, and the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We agreed on the need to relaunch the peace process in a multilateral format – with a central role for the European Union, but always together with the Quartet, our American friends and the Arab countries. At the end of January we will all meet here in Brussels – the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Quartet Members, Norway and other important partners – for an extraordinary meeting of the group of international donors for Palestine, the “Ad Hoc Liaison Committee.” Here is my press conference with Abbas, and here is what I told journalists before and after the Foreign Affairs Council.
Yesterday I met with Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, the Speaker of the Israeli Parliament – a sign of our friendship and constant cooperation with Israel, not just to relaunch the peace process but also in our bilateral relations, and to tackle together the issue of anti-Semitism in our region.
At the end of this week we will mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and today at the European Commission we listened to the stories of three Holocaust survivors – Elżbieta Ficowska, Jehoshua Shochot ed Elisabeth Drillich. The European Union was born on the tragedy of World War Two and the Shoah. It was built on the determination to say “never again” and on the desire to rebuild Europe by embracing our diversity. The memory of the Holocaust does not only matter to our past, but to the present and the future of our continent.
Last Monday, at the Foreign Affairs Council, we also approved our new strategy for Iraq. This is what I discussed yesterday with Brett McGurk, President Trump’s special envoy to the global coalition against Daesh.
A few other important meeting from the last few days. Today I met with Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s new Director General (here is the press release), yesterday with Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister Iurie Leanca (press release), with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate José Ramos-Horta, who is now National Security Counsellor in Timor-Leste (press release), and with Skopje’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov – in a crucial moment to addressing the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s name issue and to the country’s path towards the European Union.
Our work for the Balkans never stops: last week I spoke on the phone with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Hashim Thaci, inviting all parties to show restraint after Oliver Ivanović’s killing in North Mitrovica. Press release here.
Finally, yesterday morning I opened the tenth European Space Conference. The European Union is a space power, and our satellites are an essential asset in our foreign policy. So we will continue to invest in space, to be more autonomous and at the same time to cooperate even more with our international partners. Here is my speech at the conference.