Syria, Libya, and our Eastern partners: an important Foreign Affairs Council

Syria, Libya, and our Eastern partners: an important Foreign Affairs Council

Today I write as I embark for my sixth visit to Latin America, ready to touch down in Mexico and Colombia, after a particularly important EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting yesterday in Brussels. In the first part of the day we met with our partners in Eastern Europe: we discussed how to support reforms, peace and security in our region together with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. We then worked on our common policy for Syria, Iraq and the fight against Daesh. Our decision was to increase our European Union’s engagement in the political process led by Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations’ Special Envoy, towards a transition in Syria. We are already working in the country, on the ground, as the first donor for humanitarian aid. But we are also playing a crucial role in the International Syria Support Group, working with the parties in Brussels and Geneva. In fact, right before yesterday’s Council, I met with the representatives on the opposition Syrian National Coalition. The political process needs to start as soon as possible, to move towards peace and defeat Daesh. Each and every day we see more victims falling in this horrific war, and more people putting their own life at risk in the hands of human traffickers, as they seek refuge from the conflict. The global issue of migration took the lion’s share of yesterday’s discussion. First of all, we answered to the Libyan Prime Minister’s request to help train the Libyan coastguard (I had met again with Fayez al Serraj last week in Vienna). Then, together with all 28 Foreign Ministers we decided...
In Vienna, working together for Libya and Syria

In Vienna, working together for Libya and Syria

I write at the end of two intense days in Vienna, where the international community gathered to find a way out of the most dramatic crises of our times, in Libya and Syria. This is happening at our borders, at Europe’s borders: for too many years the peoples of these two countries – and the entire neighbourhood, including ourselves – have faced violence, destruction, the lack of hope in the future, the terrorist threat. They have fled their home and sought shelter abroad. Helping Libya and Syria find peace is a duty towards these peoples, and at the same time it is indispensable for Europe’s security and for the whole region. For this reason we have decided – at yesterday’s meeting on Libya – to recognise the government headed by Prime Minister designate Fayez al Serraj as the only authority in the country. We will support the government in the huge tasks it now faces, to restart the country’s engines, to guarantee security for institutions and citizens, to fight Daesh and to keep Libya together. It is a tough way ahead, and it is up to the Libyans to win this battle. The international community – with Europe – will support them and will address the demands for cooperation we have received and those we will receive in the future. And yet, Libya’s destiny is and will remain in Libyan hands. Our European Union has financed 100 million euros in support of Libya: we have already launched our first humanitarian projects, helping local authorities and the central government, but also civil society organisations. And more. We are working with the Libyan authorities to train their police forces, to secure...