I write after a long day at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. It was mostly dedicated to the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since World War 2, which is unfolding at Europe’s borders: the conflict in Syria. The priority right now is saving Aleppo. The Syrian regime and Russia have to halt the bombings and let humanitarian aid in: this is the position we expressed, together with all Foreign Ministers of the European Union. We have prepared, already a few weeks ago, a European plan to let humanitarian aid enter the besieged Eastern part of the city, and to transfer the wounded and the sick. We are ready to start, as soon as a truce of at least a few hours will make it possible.
We discussed about it with the United Nations’ Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, after the weekend meetings in London and Lausanne. The European Union has always supported and taken part in all efforts by the United Nations and by other actors. Today we have decided to do even more, launching – in coordination with the UN – a dialogue on the future of Syria with regional powers, starting with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We will also intensify the work we are already doing with the Syrian civil society, to engage the opposition forces but also the Churches, the NGOs, the women’s organisations. When this conflict will be over, it will be up to them to rebuild and reconciliate the country. And it will be up to us to accompany them – a work we can begin as of today.
Our Union has risen from the ashes of a global conflict: we know the drama of war, and we are ready to assist an inevitably long and difficult post-war process. Against these weeks’ devastation, talking about post-war might sound out of sync. On the contrary we need to start thinking about the future, the future of Syria, as a means to facilitate a diplomatic process to end the war. Here is what I told the journalists in Luxembourg on Syria.
We also kept some space in today’s agenda for other big issues we are working on – the European Union together with all 28 Member States. This includes our cooperation with Tunisia, where we will invest up to 300 million euros in 2017, and migration. I anticipated to the Ministers the report that the Commission will adopt tomorrow, concerning the work we have done over the last few months on the migration compacts with Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Ethiopia and Senegal. Cooperation has started and we can already see the first concrete results. I will explain them in detail in a press conference tomorrow (in the meantime, here is today’s press conference, at the end of the day).