I just got back from two intense working days with the 28 EU Foreign and Defence Ministers in Luxembourg. Yesterday it was exactly one year after the tragedy in the Strait of Sicily, in which over 800 people lost their lives. So we took stock of all the external actions we have launched on migration over these twelve months, to plan the work ahead.
In one year we have started Operation Sophia, which has brought to justice tens of traffickers and saved 13,000 human lives. In one year we have launched the Trust Fund for Africa, which has already invested 700 million euros in concrete projects. In one year we have initiated an unprecedented dialogue with our African partners, not just on the return of illegal migrants but first and foremost on the continent’s development. One year ago I was tasked to open high level political dialogues with a number of strategic countries – from Nigeria to Ethiopia: all these dialogues have now kicked off, providing us with a platform for managing together the flows of human beings. (Here is my press conference at the end of the Council’s first meeting).
With Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for refugees, yesterday we discussed our common engagement on many files: from the implementation of the deal with Turkey to our commitment to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria, from our work on the Western Balkan’s route to the support to Syrians in Jordan and Lebanon, our help to refugees in Africa and in Afghanistan, both inside and outside the country. Together we save and protect the lives of men, women and children who flee from war and dramatic crises.
One of the most dramatic crises – Libya, which directly affects Europe – was the focus of a video conference with the Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj, speaking from Tripoli. We confirmed our full support to his government and the Libyan people, and we discussed a number of concrete projects to address the Libyans’ priorities. The EU has readied one hundred million in support to a number of sectors, starting with humanitarian aid; we have proposed to launch a civilian mission to train Libya’s police forces, and Operation Sophia could help the Libyan coast guard (here is the press conference on Libya).
Today a new terrorist attack in Kabul reminded us how fragile Afghanistan still is. Hours later, we discussed with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg our engagement in the country, to promote its security and stability (here my press briefing after the meeting).
Now I’m back to Brussels, where I co-chaired the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee for Palestine together with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.