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 dialogue can get the country out of this difficult moment.

Back in Brussels, this morning I took part in the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers. We worked on concrete projects to strengthen cooperation between the European Union and NATO, implementing the joint EU/NATO declaration we signed in Warsaw last July. I also updated the ministers about the steps the European Union is taking to strengthen its common security and defence, in full complementarity with Nato. Here are my answers to the journalists’ questions before the meeting.