Back from Tehran

Back from Tehran

I write on my way back from Tehran, where I met with President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. It wasn’t simply a bilateral visit: this is the beginning of a work the European Union has decided to do with the regional powers, on the future of Syria. The urgency is certainly to stop the fighting, deliver humanitarian aid to the population, and end the war through the political process the United Nations are working on. In Tehran we discussed all this. But in the meantime Europe, together with the other countries in the region, can create the conditions to start that process, and to begin to plan the physical, political and social reconstruction of Syria. The day after the war ends, a whole country will need to re-invent itself. It will be up to Syrians to decide the political and institutional structure of their country, but regional powers can accompany the process and avoid to hinder it. The European Union will also help, together with the United Nations, in dialogue with all key countries: we have good communication channels in the region, with all players. This includes Iran and Saudi Arabia, where I’ll be on Monday; it includes Qatar (I met the Foreign Minister just days ago) and Turkey, where I will also head soon for the same kind of focused discussion on the future of Syria. Our work on political solutions is the best investment in a stable future. This is also true inside our European Union. Yesterday I was in Cyprus, where I met with President Nikos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, and the Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı, to support their...
Back from Latin America. With Italy on my mind

Back from Latin America. With Italy on my mind

Italy was once again hit by an earthquake, just two months after the tragedy of Amatrice. My mind goes to the communities there, who have already been hit so hard; to the rescuers, who are facing another emergency; to the heritage that’s been destroyed. The European Commission has immediately got in touch with the Italian government, and we stand ready to provide all the help they may require. The news reached me on my way back from Latin America, where I chaired the meeting of Foreign Ministers from the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (here is my speech at the opening of the meeting). We must invest in the positive stories coming from the continent, a continent we are linked to by deep historic, cultural and economic ties. These positive stories include the peace agreement in Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos is still working for it, with tenacity, and the European Union will continue to support the deal. On December 12th, right after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, President Santos will join us in Brussels at our Foreign Affairs Council: in that occasion we will launch a European Union’s Trust Fund, which will finance projects to support the deal. I also talked about Colombia during the final press conference in Santo Domingo, here. Our ties with Latin American push us – as European Union – to follow closely the crises in the continent, starting with the situation in Venezuela. I discussed it at length with the UNASUR facilitators, Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Leonel Fernandez, and on the phone with the Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. Only a real commitment to...