Memory and responsibility

Memory and responsibility

I write after a meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers is Lucca, during Italy’s presidency of the Group. Yesterday, together with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Italy’s Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, we opened our summit with a visit to Sant’Anna di Stazzema – a small village where, in 1944, Nazi and Fascist troops killed hundreds of innocent people. I had the opportunity to meet some of the survivors from the massacre, and the children and grandchildren of the victims. It was truly moving, but it was also a powerful reminder.

The survivors told me – with the passion that springs from real life experience – that the memory of the massacre must motivate us to prevent a collapse of our united Europe, and to make it even stronger.

My generation has a duty to fulfil this responsibility – for the victims of Sant’Anna and of all the wars that mark our continent’s history. But it is also a responsibility against the many crises of our age, and the risks they bring to our own security.

Take Syria, which we discussed at length with the G7 Ministers. These days were intense and delicate, after the horrific chemical attack close to Idlib (in the day when in Brussels we were kicking off our conference on Syria) and with the US bomning of a Syrian air base. The European Union took a strong and unified stance. On behalf of all 28 Member States (here is the statement), I repeated that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime and those responsible must be held accountable, that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, and that peace requires a stronger support to the UN-mediated negotiations in Geneva. This is the European Union’s daily commitment, together with our work on humanitarian aid and to save lives. Here is the press release on my contacts following the chemical attack and the US strike.

The G7 in Lucca gave strong support to the political process, including with our meeting this morning with the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

A the G7 we also agreed on common positions on North Korea – and I met with Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, – Ukraine, Libya, the Middle East peace process and many other priorities. Here is our final communique.

Libya was also at the centre of my talks in Algiers, during the weekend, where I arrived for my second bilateral visit since the beginning of my mandate. With Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, with Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, and with Abdelkader Messahel, the Minister for Maghreb affairs, the Arab League and the African Union, we discussed how to follow up to the EU-Algeria Association Council, but also the crises in our common region. Here is my press conference with Lamamra.

The visit to Algiers was also an opportunity to meet with civil society representatives and with the students of the Algiers 3 University. Here is my speech at the University, text and video (in French).

Last Thursday I also talked about young people in our region, and how to provide them with better opportunities, with Senegal’s Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye. Our conversation touched upon strengthening our relationship and facing together our common challenges: cooperation with Senegal continues, both on migration compacts and on the forthcoming International Forum on peace and security in Africa to be held in Dakar. Here is the press release on the meeting.