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 efforts to find a solution to all outstanding issues. After 42 years, the island’s citizens might finally have the opportunity to live in a unified and European Cyprus: that would set a powerful example for the whole region. Here is my press conference with Kasoulides.

We really need positive stories. And tomorrow some good news will come from Brussels: the trade deal between the European Union and Canada will be signed, together with our Strategic Partnership Agreement. We have worked a lot on this deal, the most advanced in the world on trade issues. From tomorrow on, it will drive economic growth and the creation of job opportunities, but it will also represent a global standard for other trade deals. It is good news, built by the European Union together with a country so close to us, such as Canada.