I write on my way back from Malta and from the informal summit of the 28 European leader, where I presented the proposals for a common European action to manage migration flows in the Mediterranean – starting with the support to the agreement with Libya, signed in Rome yesterday. There is a European way to managing migration flows: through cooperation with countries of origin and transit, the respect of human rights, the support to the United Nations’ Refugee agency (Unhcr) and the International Organisation for Migration, the fight against criminal organisations trading on the lives of these new slaves. Here is what I told journalists this morning, here my interview to Corriere della Sera (in Italian), here my speech at the European Parliament ahead of the Summit.
In Malta, the whole Union put its weight behind the agreement signed yesterday by the Prime Ministers of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni, and of Libya, Fayez al Sarraj. Hours before the signing ceremony, I had met Sarraj in Brussels: our dialogue focused not only on migration, but first and foremost on the political situation in his country, and how we can help Libya find the unity it needs so urgently. Here is the press conference after yesterday’s meeting with Sarraj.
I also discussed the situation in Libya this afternoon, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. But we also talked about Ukraine, where it is urgent to halt the latest escalation of violence, and the diplomatic work to end the war in Syria, with the Conference we will organise next Spring in Brussels, on the country’s and the region’s future.
At the Malta summit we talked precisely about this: the European Union has to play its global role at full, in a moment when our global partners increasingly look at us, to work together on the basis of our shared principles and values. It is a conversation I also had at the European Parliament, as we discussed President Trump’s decision to ban the citizens of seven countries from entering the US. The European Union will continue to welcome all who have the right to our protection, and to work together with all countries in the region, from Iraq to Libya and Iran, whatever the religion of their citizens. This is not only because we must guarantee that no one is discriminated because of their nationality or faith, but also because only through dialogue and cooperation we can build real solutions to the complex issues of our times. Here is the video of my speech at the Parliament and my reply to the leaders of political groups, here my comments to the press on Trump’s Executive Order.
These are substantial choices, defining who we are, our identity as European, our way to work in the world. And although it is certainly true there is much to change in our Union, it is also true we too often forget about our strength, and how crucial it is for Europeans to be united in today’s world, and claim our sovereignty together. The world sees us as a great power – not only in economic terms, but politically. I talked about this European pride yesterday, in Paris, as I received the prize of Trombinoscope – the “facebook” of French politics – as “European of the year” (here is my speech at the ceremony).
One last important thing, on our role as a force for peace: this week I hosted once again the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, after our meeting last week (here is my statement). In a difficult moment for the region, it is crucial for the dialogue to continue, and to put an end to the current tensions. It is crucial for Serbs and Kosovars, and for the stability of our entire continent.