From Brussels, a common response to the Idlib attack

From Brussels, a common response to the Idlib attack

These have been tough days of work for Syria, here in Brussels. The news of the horrific chemical attack in Idlib’s region came in as we were about to open the international Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region – a conference we chaired together with the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, with the participation of more than 70 countries and international organisations. The news from Idlib have reminded the world that the war in Syria continues, as tragic and terrible as ever. So the message we sent from the Conference and the work we have managed to do together are even more important. In Brussels we took three decisions, together.   First and foremost, we continue to strongly support and to promote the talks in Geneva, under the mediation of the United Nations, as the only possible solution to end the war and the daily horror. In Brussels the international community found unity – from the United States to Russia, from the Gulf to European countries and the Arab world – working to help the Syrian parties reach a political agreement and put an end to the fighting. The representative of the Syrian civil society who were with us repeated one word, again and again: hudna, ceasefire. The attack in Idlib makes it even more evident that the ceasefire agreement signed in Astana has to turn into reality: its three guarantors – Russia, Turkey and Iran – have a clear responsibility to maintain. But the ceasefire will only last if the negotiations in Geneva among the Syrian parties, with the UN mediation, can continue and lead to a political solution...
A strong, reliable, indispensable partner

A strong, reliable, indispensable partner

I write after a week that was particularly dense with meetings. It started in Brussels, for the NATO ministerial, then Bonn for the G20, and Munich for the Security Conference. The message I gathered, in all the bilateral meetings I had, is that the world looks at the European Union as a strong, reliable, cooperative and indispensable partner. A much stronger one than we usually realise. And an even more indispensable partner in dangerous and confused times, when rules are too often perceived as a constraint for some, not as a guarantee for all. The European Union is a point of reference when talking about peace, multilateralism, development, rights, free and fair trade. But also when talking about security – for our military and civilian missions around the world, and for cooperation with NATO. And more. It would be an illusion to believe that the challenges ahead of us can be faced with military force only. So the European Union invests in development, in the promotion of human rights, in education, in policies against climate change. We invest in strong societies, not in strong men: it is much more effective to bring real stability. This is not “philanthropy,” these are not just high-minded sentiments: it is a rational investment in our own security. This is what I told the Munich Security Conference, yesterday morning. Inequalities create instability and frailty – this is what we discussed at the G20 in Bonn. In the past, we could talk about what we could do “for” Africa; today, we must understand what we can do together, “with” Africa. We are partners for peace and security, for democracy and rights, for sustainable development,...
Working for Syria. Working with Africa

Working for Syria. Working with Africa

I am travelling from Rome, where I went for voting in the Italian referendum – as ever, but this time for a crucial reform for Italy’s present and future. In Rome I also attended an important event, Med2016, a crossroads for thoughts and proposals on our Mediterranean sea. There I presented the work the European Union is doing for Syria, in the humanitarian field (focusing particularly on Aleppo) and on finding a political solution to the war. Here are the video and the text of my dialogue with Staffan de Mistura. The future of Syria was also at the core of my conversation with the Syrian Women Advisory Board, a group of women from Syria’s civil society, a few days ago in Brussels: to support their work, listen to their voices, and imagine together how to build a future for millions of Syrians. In the last few days, in Brussels, I had two other important meetings. Both were a sign of our friendship and our support to two of our neighbours, to the South and to the East. I met with Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi (here is the video of our press point) and co-chaired the Association Council between the European Union and Georgia, together with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili (here is the video of our press conference). On Friday I took part in the EU-NGO Forum: we work with civil society organisations on a daily basis in every part of the world (here is video of my speech). Right now I am flying towards Dakar, where tomorrow I will open the International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, together with Senegal’s President Macky Sall – and our cooperation with...