I never met Fidel Castro, but I had the opportunity to meet several times his brother, President Raúl Castro, during my official visits to Cuba and some international summits in Latin America. In these two years I have worked a lot with the Cuban authorities, to sign the agreement between the European Union and Cuba and to fully normalise our relations. There are issues where our differences are deep, others where we are very close. On all issues, with no exceptions, we have agreed to discuss openly and to work together. Our institutional work now mirrors a friendship that Europeans and Cubans have never stopped nurturing. This will go on, in a moment of great changes for the island. Here is my statement on the passing away of Fidel.
Back to Brussels. Yesterday we held a meeting that, in a way, is historic: the first Association and Stabilisation Council between the European Union and Kosovo. It is a milestone in the country’s path towards European integration. It was an important day for Kosovo and the European Union also because we signed a deal that will allow Kosovars to have access to a number of European programmes, including Erasmus. Here is the press conference after the Council.
In the last couple of days I also called Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades and the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community, Mustafa Akıncı, in a crucial moment for the talk on Cyprus. They both confirmed that they are determined to carry on the peace process and not to waste a historic opportunity – not only for the island but for Europe and the Middle East. Here is my statement.
From Cyprus to Syria: yesterday I met with the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, to continue coordinating our work to end the war. It was the opportunity to update him on the European initiative – which I am carrying on – to discuss the future of Syria with the main Middle Eastern countries.
Together with Staffan I also had the pleasure to meet the French-Iranian photographer Reza, to inaugurate his exhibition that we are now hosting at the European Commission. Reza has spent the last years teaching photography to Syrian children in the refugee camp of Kawergosk, in Iraq. It is a way to give a voice to those children, but also to keep alive their hope and the possibility of a better future: they have the right to aspire to a future when they won’t be “refugees” any more, and they will be able to decide what to do with their own life.
Last, but very important: for the international day to eliminate violence against women, the Commission was lit up in orange. It is a small sign of the work we do everyday, together with many in Europe and in the world, so we will need no more an international day against violence on women. Here is my statement.