I write after an important European Council, in difficult hours of constant contacts to try and protect civilians in Aleppo – and in the rest of Syria. At the Council we discussed about Aleppo, our humanitarian aid, the work we are doing with the United Nations to start the evacuation of civilians in Aleppo and elsewhere. But we also discussed our diplomatic work to lay the ground for a political solution in Syria, allowing for a transition and for the reconstruction of the country. I updated the Heads of State and government on the work done, on the humanitarian and political level, and we discussed together the next steps. Here is what I told the journalists, here the Council Conclusions.
At the Council we also talked about migration. I presented the work we have done through our “migration compacts” with five African countries: I explained the results we have already achieved and the commitments that still have to be put in practice, with our African partners and with the International Organisation for Migration. Yesterday we also signed a 100 million plan for joint projects with IOM, and a few hours before the Council I welcomed to Brussels the President on Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou. Together we have signed agreements for 500 million euros in new European investments, to support a crucial country for the stability of our region: we are investing in development, in education (especially for girls), in good jobs and in security. Here is our press conference, here the one with IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.
Yesterday I also presented to the Council the package of measures I have prepared to strengthen European cooperation on security and defence. Security is a top priority for each and every European citizen and for our partners: I have put forward a set of concrete proposals, to create a true European Union of security and defence. Here I explain the proposals in the defence package, endorsed yesterday by the Heads of State and government.
Defence – as well as development cooperation and the reform of global governance – was central to my debates in the European Parliament’s plenary, last Tuesday (here is the video). In Strasbourg we also discussed human rights and the situation in Aleppo (video), immediately after my meeting with Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, the two Yazidi girls who have been awarded the Sakharov Prize.
My week had begun with the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, in the presence of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos. The President had just received the Nobel Peace Prize: his visit to Brussels stood as a great recognition of Europe’s role to support peace in Colombia. And together we launched a European Union’s Trust Fund to assist the implementation of the peace deal (here is our press conference).
On the same day I also signed a political dialogue and cooperation agreement with Cuba, together with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (video). It is a new beginning for our relations with Cuba, to accompany the island in an era of great changes.