Grief, solidarity and reconstruction

Grief, solidarity and reconstruction

I was in Rome when the earth shook, at 3.36am, the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. My thoughts went back immediately to another night, in 2009, when the earthquake in L’Aquila woke us up at about the same hour. The same grief for the victims, for the children, the families, the communities. The struggle and the suffering of those who dig through the rubble, who organise the rescue, who save and who comfort, who help find and rebuild life. The sense of urgency of these hours, and the need to look forward to reconstruction. Back in 2009 I was in the Democratic Party’s secretariat, and I organised the aid work of the party’s volunteers. Today, the first thought was to make sure that all the European tools for solidarity are made immediately and fully available. This is what I discussed yesterday with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, and we will continue in the coming days to guarantee Europe’s full support to Italy (here is the statement by my colleague Christos Stylianides).

With this constant thought in mind, and with a heavy heart, I headed to the summit of Socialist leaders hosted by President Hollande in Paris. We will prepare our work to restart our Union’s engine, after the meeting in Ventotene last Monday and towards the summit in Bratislava in mid September.

Today we also got some good news, though: after years of tough negotiations – constantly supported and encouraged by the European Union – tonight the final peace agreement between Colombia and the FARC was reached. In a painful moment, I received the call from President Santos, whom I’ve met so often during these years. I shared with him the happiness for an historic moment – not only for Colombia, but for the whole world – and discussed the support our European Union will lend to the deal’s implementation. This shows, yet again, that even the harshest and longest-lasting conflicts can come to an end through dialogue and negotiations. Peace calls for courage, stubbornness, tenacity and vision. But peace is indeed possible. In the world we live in, it’s good to keep it in mind thanks to moments like this, and it’s good to contribute to make these moments happen.