From European defence to Central Africa, to Syria

From European defence to Central Africa, to Syria

I write on my way to the Emirates, where tomorrow I will take part in the Sir Bani Yas Forum in a panel on Iran. In this moment it is essential to preserve the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme we reached after so much work one year ago, which I am tasked to guarantee. But it will especially be an opportunity to meet ministers from all over the region and carry on our work on the future of Syria, which I have set up on the European side over the last weeks: we need to build some common ground among regional powers, to facilitate a transition.

I discussed about it today in Brussels, with the leaders of the Syrian opposition (here the press release), because Syria’s future has to be decided first and foremost by the Syrians. I also talked about Syria with the Foreign Minister of Lebanon, Gebran Bassil, days ago in Brussels. With him we also concluded our “compact” to support Syrian refugees and we agreed on our partnership’s priorities – in a moment when Lebanon works to move past its internal divisions, having just elected a new President after over two years of institutional deadlock (here is the video of our joint press conference).

But this week was particularly important for the work we have done on Europe’s security and defence together with the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the 28. On Monday all Member States have approved my proposals to strengthen our cooperation in this field: it is a real change of pace, made together at 28, in a moment when Europe needs more than ever to relaunch its unity, its ability to look at our common future, and to deliver big common projects. Here is the press conference where I present our Plan on security and defence.

On Tuesday we then prepared with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, the next steps in EU-NATO cooperation: we truly need to invest even more in our Transatlantic relationship, particularly in these times.

One final and important thing: yesterday Brussels hosted the international Conference for the Central African Republic, organised by the European Union and the Central African government. Three years ago the country was at war, and it is still hosting a huge number of displaced people. But in these years the Central African Republic has taken incredible steps forward, it has elected a new government in free and democratic elections, and the country’s potential is still huge. Yesterday the international community has pledged over two billion euros in investments for Central Africa, an amount that exceeded all expectations. And the European Union is once again the first donor. Here is my speech opening the Conference, here the final press conference (all in French).