Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini’s first official visit to the United States continued with a meeting with the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, a discussion of the European elections and an interview on the Ukraine crisis on CNN International. Minister Mogherini also mentioned the White House’s keen interest in EXPO 2015 and a possible participation by Michelle Obama.
Minister Mogherini’s first official US visit opened with a wide-ranging discussion with the American Secretary of State John Kerry. Topics examined included the crisis in Ukraine (“we must support the national dialogue”); the stalemate in Syria; the two Italian marines detained in India; and the schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria.
Another key topic for the United States is EXPO 2015, for which Kerry thanked our country for its decision to place the emphasis on food security for all and on global resources. Secretary Kelly also thanked Italy for its role in the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons, by making the port of Gioia Tauro available for operations.
More women in politics is the call to emerge from Mogherini–Albright meeting
“This was a warm and friendly meeting. We discussed not just foreign policy but also more ‘human’ topics: the fact that there are still so few women in the world dealing with foreign policy”. That was how Minister Mogherini described her meeting with America’s first ever female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright: a meeting that she said was “exciting”. “Listening to her advice and her view of the world is always extremely interesting. We commented on the fact that only two European Union countries have female foreign ministers [ed.’s note: Italy and Croatia, with Minister Vesna Pusic]. But we both hope to see more in the future. And then she congratulated Italy on the fact that over half the government is female – with all the women in key ministerial positions”.
EXPO 2015: Michelle Obama in Milan? We’re working on it, says Mogherini
“We’re working on something that even you journalists can get excited about”. With a smile, Minister Mogherini hinted that First Lady Michelle Obama might take part in EXPO 2015 in Milan, either in person or via video link. “In my talks with the White House I noticed how much importance the United States attached, on the purely political level, to EXPO 2015, with its themes of food security and fighting hunger worldwide”.
After her talk at the White House with John Podesta, one of President Obama’s closest advisers, Mogherini confirmed the US Administration’s keen interest in supporting the American pavilion in Milan. And the political value that its participation would hold for the American people. As Minister Mogherini underscored, food security and combating obesity are key issues for this administration, as witnessed by the First Lady’s very visible commitment.
European elections – discussion with Obama’s adviser
Turning to the European elections and the possibility of the euro-sceptics making major advances, Minister Mogherini said that she did not detect significant fears at the White House. Rather, she noted a concern – during her long meeting with Barack Obama’s adviser, John Podesta – as to whether the European institutions would continue to function effectively. From 1 July, when we take over the revolving EU Presidency, “Italy intends to ensure an orderly and smooth transition that respects the people’s will as expressed in the vote. That’s the priority, not the question of who does what”.
Minister Mogherini added that “Italy will be pressing for a new phase in European economic policy. We take the same line as the United States: the austerity policies need to be accompanied by greater flexibility to stimulate growth”. Other issues discussed with Podesta include the situation in Ukraine, Syria, the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as EU-US relations and certain aspects of their domestic policies. Next in the Minister’s diary, after her meeting with Podesta, was a meeting with the national security adviser at the White House, Susan Rice.
Ukraine: Mogherini interviewed by CNN International
The European Union is ready to support the United States on a new package of sanctions against Russia. However, we hope it doesn’t get to that stage. The objective is not sanctions in themselves, but a resumption of the dialogue. That was how Minister Mogherini, interviewed by Wolf Blitzer in the CNN studios, summed up Italy’s position. The goal of these economic measures is to kick-start the dialogue between all parties concerned, and to help Ukraine make progress towards reform and political stabilisation. The goal, concluded Minister Mogherini, is for the USA and the EU to speak with one voice in order to increase their effectiveness.
Long meeting with Susan Rice
The discussion in Washington between Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and Susan Rice, National Security Adviser at the White House, lasted over an hour. “A very long, very open” meeting that focused on the crisis in Ukraine. Other topics discussed include the situation in Syria, and the case of the two Italian marines in India.