Why I am proud of the third Brussels Conference on the future of Syria

Why I am proud of the third Brussels Conference on the future of Syria

I write after a week spent in the United States and in Brussels, for the third Conference on Syria.

I am proud of three things. First of all, this year the Conference revolved around the many Syrian women and men working in civil society – who came together, in spite of their differences, with 500 NGOs engaged every day on the ground. We offered them a safe space to meet and to exchange ideas, and we brought their voice to the table of decision makers: because Syria belongs to Syrians, and the only way to end the conflict is to help them – together with the United Nations – build a democratic, inclusive, united and reconciled Syria. Here are my meetings with civil society and the women who are taking part in the negotiations, here is the press conference with the UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen. And here is my speech that opened the ministerial meeting, after we had listened together to the story of an incredible young woman from Syria, Asmaa.

Second, in a moment when Syria risks to be “forgotten” and when divisions still run deep within the international community, we mobilised 8o countries and international organisations to support the political process led by the United Nations – our only hope to end the war. From Russia to the US, from Iran to Turkey, we tried to build some common ground to help the United Nations relaunch the negotiations in Geneva.

Finally, we managed to gather an extraordinary amount of resources – more than six billion euros for 2019 only – in support of Syrians and their host communities, particularly in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Here is the final communique, here is what I told journalists at the beginning of the Conference’s final day.

The Brussels Conference was also an opportunity to meet with the International Red Cross’ President Peter Maurer, the deputy Prime Minister of Kuwait Sabah al Sabah, the Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed al Thani and the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

My week had started in the United States, in a trip dedicated mostly to the United Nations and to strengthening the multilateral system. After the meeting of the Global Tech Panel in Seattle (I wrote about it here), I went back to New York for two days of meetings at the UN.

First with the ambassador of European countries that sit in the Security Council, then right at the Security Council for the annual briefing about cooperation between the European Union and the UN (here is my speech). I also discussed how and why Europe is supporting the multilateral system at Princeton University, in New Jersey – here is the video.

In new York I took part in three events with some women in roles of great responsibility: a meeting with Syrian and Yemen women who are engaged in the peace processes for their countries, a debate on women in power organised by the UN General Assembly’s President Maria Fernanda Espinosa, and a reception at the EU embassy to inaugurate the annual session of the UN Commission of the Status of Women.

Another important thing from last week: last Friday, I chaired the Association Council with Turkey, together with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Press conference here.

Finally, two events that happened in the very same hours – a tragic one, and one that gives me great hope. On Friday I sent my condolences to the government of New Zealand, for the massacre at the Christchurch mosque: a terrorist attack against a place of worship, and against all of us who believe not just in freedom of religion and of though, but also in the value of diversity. On the same day, millions of young people all around the world took to the streets to ask for urgent action against global warming. A great act of responsibility, and a powerful request for change.