Our response to terror: peace in Syria, now

Our response to terror: peace in Syria, now

I am writing from Geneva, where yesterday at the United Nations I met with Staffan de Mistura, Ban Ki-moon’s envoy for Syria, and the Syrian delegations engaged in the UN-led talks (here is the video of our press conference). The Syrian parties hold a huge responsibility: towards their people, shattered by five years of war; towards millions of refugees who dream to go back home; towards too many victims of terrorism, including European ones. Terrorism the war in Syria has nourished. After my visit to the Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and after paying our last respects to the victims of the attacks in Brussels, together with Belgian and French Prime Ministers Charles Michel and Manuel Valls, I delivered to the Syrian parties a message of urgency. The international community has finally united in supporting a path towards peace: it is now up to the Syrians to start off a political transition. There is no other way to give their country a future of democracy and peace, and to pull the rug out from under the terrorists of Daesh and al Nusra. We owe this to the Syrian people, first and foremost. But we also owe it to those who cry for the victims of terror in Europe, in the region and in the...
The toughest of days. Beyond sorrow, our work goes on

The toughest of days. Beyond sorrow, our work goes on

These were the toughest of days: Brussels under attack, and with it the whole of our Europe. I was in the Middle East, in Beirut and Amman, to strengthen our cooperation with Lebanon and Jordan on fighting terrorism and radicalisation, on managing the flows of Syrian refugees, on building peace in Syria through diplomacy, on a transition in Damascus. And I was there to meet Syrian refugees who only ask to go back home to their houses –which have been destroyed, but can be rebuilt. Those children have war in their eyes, together with the aspiration to a free and dignified future. Those women look at you and smile – they still do. In these hours I saw so much pain, and so much hope. For me, these were days of difficult emotions and tough work. I felt the full responsibility Europe bears on its shoulders. I felt the expectations our European citizens and our Middle Eastern neighbours are putting on us. I felt one of the toughest and darkest moments in our history. For the first time in my life, I showed my sorrow in public – in a press conference in Amman, a few minutes after receiving the terrible news of the attacks in Brussels. I am not used to sharing my feelings and emotions during official meetings: it is something I don’t like. But sometimes pain becomes evident, public. We are humans, first and foremost. Beyond sorrow, though, we hold responsibilities. And this is what really matters to me. Beyond tears – be they public or private – what really matters is every moment’s job to try and build solutions, pathways...
Civil society, foreign policy and the courage of rationality on refugees

Civil society, foreign policy and the courage of rationality on refugees

A day in Brussels: it began with the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners, to prepare tomorrow’s European Council. Then the plenary of the European Economic and Social Committee, where we discussed the role that business associations, trade unions and NGOs have in our foreign policy. It is every day more evident that an effective foreign policy cannot simply rely on governments. Non-State actors have a growing relevance in our region and beyond: conflicts sometime grow inside societies, and only inside societies can we find real solutions to those conflicts. I also mentioned the extraordinary work that civil society is doing in welcoming refugees. During these weeks, too often we hear that Europe needs to “protect its borders.” In fact, we must defend borders from our enemies – not from people fleeing from war. We cannot afford to panic, we have a duty to be as rational as we can. And rationality tells us that all attempts to address the refugee crisis nationally have failed. The choice is whether to keep failing individually, or finally try and build an effective response – that is, a European response. Here is the video of our debate in the...

Remarks by Federica Mogherini upon arrival at the meeting of EU heads of state or government with Turkey

Check against delivery! We have today an important point on the agenda: making sure that all that has been agreed with Turkey is implemented, related to the Joint Action Plan and the refugee crisis, and in particular the need to make it sustainable in the immediate term and in the long run – the protection of the refugees and the management of the flow, with the disruption of the network of traffickers. This is why, let me remind you once again, the European Union is allocating 3€ billion – not to the government of Turkey, but to projects to support refugees and their lives. Our relation with Turkey is a complex one and a complete one, as Turkey is in itself a complex country. We have several different issues on the table and we discuss with all of the country. I was glad this morning to meet Mr Selahattin Demirtaş, opposition leader, to discuss also with him the perspectives of the relationship between Turkey and the European Union. We are working together on the Syrian War, trying to put an end to the 5 year old conflict there – this is a top priority for the European Union. We are working together also with Turkey as a candidate country and here we have internal developments we are following very closely from the European Union’s side. There is the need to restart the Kurdish peace process. The European Union recognises that the PKK is a terrorist organisation, but there is the need to re-engage – from the Turkish authority’s side – with the Kurdish political representatives, the ones that express...