A conference in Brussels for the future of Syria

A conference in Brussels for the future of Syria

I write as I travel from Strasbourg, where we held the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners, to Davos, where I will be taking part in some debates at the World Economic Forum. In Davos I will also have some bilateral meetings with institutional interlocutors and international partners.

While the media attention focuses on a complex transition in the US Administration, our work keeps concentrating on the European Union’s continuing role in our region and the world. For peace, security and stability.

This starts with Syria, which we discussed yesterday in Brussels at the Foreign Affairs Council. Our regional initiative to prepare Syria’s future goes on, in close cooperation with the United Nations and with regional countries: over the last few days, they sent their delegations to Brussels to discuss how to facilitate together a political transition, a reconciliation process, and how to open a new phase of reconstruction in the country.

We have also decided that the European Union, together with the United Nations, will host an international conference on the future of Syria and of the region, next Spring in Brussels. It will be first and foremost a political meeting, to try and bring to an end these dramatic six years of war, and to open a new chapter of transition and reconstruction. But it will also be an opportunity to strengthen our support to an exhausted population, inside and outside Syria’s borders. No one invests as much as Europe does to support Syrians, and this is not bound to change: this fact, together with our non-engagement in the military conflict, gives us credibility. And we are ready to spend our credibility to facilitate a political solution to the crisis.

At the Council we also discussed our work to restart the Middle East peace process, in the wake of the Paris conference where I represented the European Union, together with the other Members of the Quartet – the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

Moreover, yesterday we took stock of our common work to manage migratory flows in the Mediterranean, in particular through Libya: we are preparing our proposals, to be discussed by the heads of State and Government of the Twenty-eight at the informal summit in Malta at the beginning February.

Today I talked about this –and about the European Union’s support to Libya– with the Libyan Prime Minister Fajez al Serraj (here is the press release on the call). And this is the video of my press conference after yesterday’s Council (here you can find the Q&A sessions on Israel and Palestine, on Syria, on our relations with the United States and on Brexit, on the tensions between Belgrade and Pristina).

Finally, one word on an important anniversary. Exactly one year ago we kicked off the implementation of the deal on Iran’s nuclear program, and today we can affirm that the deal is fully respected and it is working. The benefits for the international community are clear. I talked about this with journalists, here is the video and here is my op-ed in the Guardian.

The two meetings in Paris and Brussels were also an opportunity to bid farewell to two friends. In Paris we thanked John Kerry, who is leaving the State Department in a few days. And yesterday it was the last Foreign Affairs Council for Frank-Walter Steinmeier – who has been not just a great Foreign Minister for Germany and a great European, but a great friend during these two years of common work.