A new beginning for Iraq. At work for peace in Syria

A new beginning for Iraq. At work for peace in Syria

I write after a week spent travelling between Kuwait, Bulgaria, Rome and Brussels, working mostly on the Middle East, the Balkans and on European defence.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I was in Kuwait for the international conference on the reconstruction of Iraq, co-hosted by the European Union. Three years ago, Daesh seemed almost unstoppable. Yet three years on, Iraq has been completely liberated and it looks at the future with hope. We must foster this hope, even more so in such a difficult moment for the Middle East. So we are accompanying the Iraqi people in the reconstruction of the country: reconstruction of houses and infrastructure, but also reconstruction of the country’s institutions, the education system, and the bounds that keep together a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society. Here is my speech opening the conference, here is what I said at the meeting of the global anti-Daesh coalition.

The two days I spent in Kuwait were also the opportunity for several important meetings. First of all, I meet with our three co-hosts of the Conference: the Emir of Kuwait Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah (press release here) and Foreign Minister Sabah al Khaled al Sabah, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, and the United Nations’ Secretary General António Guterres (press release). Then, two important partners in the Gulf: Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, and the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Secretary General, Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani. But I also met with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (with whom I also discussed about tensions off the Cypriot coast), Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the United States’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

While the war in Iraq is over, the situation in Syria remains critical. We talked about it in Bulgaria, at the informal meeting of the 28 Foreign Ministers of European Union’s Member States. Together we worked to prepare the second Brussels conference on the future of Syria and the region, on April 24th and 25th: a conference to keep supporting the civilian population, but also – and crucially – to relaunch the peace talks in Geneva. Here is my press conference in Bulgaria (this is the section on Syria, and here I discuss North Korea).

In Bulgaria we also met with the Foreign Ministers of candidate countries to EU membership: this is what I told journalists as I arrived in Sofia, and here is the moment of the press conference when we discuss the Western Balkans’ path towards the European Union.

One issue that was central to our discussion in Sofia was European defence: I discussed it at length during my meeting with Members of Parliaments coming from all over Europe. Defence was also the main topic of my visit to Rome: on Monday, at the Italian Parliament, I presented the annual report of the ItaliaDecide Foundation, focusing on dual-use civilian and military technologies. It was an opportunity to talk about the historic results we achieved over the last months towards a Europe of defence: here is my speech (in Italian). Finally, on Wednesday night in Brussels, I took part in the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting, as usual: here is what we discussed.