Foreign Affairs Council: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival
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Today, [we have] good news. The [Foreign Affairs] Council will first celebrate that Denmark joined us on the European defence policy. We are going to receive, from the Danish Foreign Affairs Minister [Jeppe Kofod] the document that shows that the Danish people want to use the European Union as a framework to increase their defence capabilities.
Second, the [European Commission’s] Opinion on Ukraine, the Opinion on Moldova and the Opinion on Georgia. This is also a very important step and a clear proof that the European Union is ready to support and accept the neighbours who want to join us as like-minded countries, partners and members.
Then, the consequences of the war. The consequences of the war are becoming very dangerous, not only for Ukraine, but for the whole world. We are repeating, and we have to warn again about the risk of a great famine in the world, especially in Africa. And it is the war which is creating price increases and scarcity of energy and food.
We are supporting the United Nations’ efforts to deblock the exports from Ukraine, and I want to insist that it is not the European sanctions which are creating this crisis. Our sanctions do not target food, do not target fertilizers. Anybody that wants to buy Russian food and fertilizers, they can do it – no obstacles. Economic actors have to know that these products from Russia are out of the scope of our sanctions, so they can operate, they can buy, they can transport, they can insure it.
The problem comes from the Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain. Millions of tons of wheat are being blocked, and millions of people will not be able to eat this wheat. So, the war is going to have dramatic consequences for the world. We call on Russia to deblock the ports and let these products go.
Q. On Saturday, Lithuania started to block the transit of goods to Kaliningrad through Lithuania. Do you think that this could create a new tension with Russia or a new problem?
I do not know exactly, but you cannot compare the situation of Kaliningrad with the situation in Ukraine with respect to the war.
The rest of the world will not be affected by what is happening in Kaliningrad, but the rest of the world is very much affected by what is happening in Ukraine.
Q. Do you think that you could do more in practical terms to help bring grain out of Ukraine? It seems so far the efforts are just slow and not the solution.
But we are advancing, I hope that nobody will be able to resist the pressure of the international community. And I hope – more than hope, I am sure - that the United Nations will at the end reach an agreement. It is unconceivable, one cannot imagine that millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while in the rest of the world, people are suffering [from] hunger. This is a real war crime, so I cannot imagine that this will last much longer. Otherwise, it will be something that Russia will be accountable for. You cannot use the hunger of people as a weapon of war.
Today we also have to take note of the result of the elections in Colombia. It is a little bit far away, and people are looking to the East more than to the West, but the elections in Colombia mark a clear change. Colombians have voted for a political change, looking for a society more inclusive and more egalitarian.
Creo que es importante señalar y el Consejo [de Asuntos Exteriores] va a conocer, tomar nota y discutir el voto en Colombia, que es un claro voto a favor de un cambio político y de una sociedad más igualitaria y más inclusiva. Tenemos una misión de observación electoral allí que hará público su informe, pero ya puedo anticipar que su impresión es que han sido unas elecciones absolutamente limpias, desarrolladas con plena normalidad y con un resultado incuestionable. Deseo lo mejor al próximo presidente electo de Colombia y a los colombianos que puedan avanzar en una sociedad más igualitaria y más inclusiva.
Q. Friday was the recommendation day for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. What do you think about this perspective, Georgia got only the European perspective and the other two a candidacy recommendation. What does it mean?
Let’s stress that this Opinion is a big step forward on the European path of Georgia. Some weeks ago, nobody could have expected an Opinion anchoring Georgia clearly in the European path. Now they have a programme to do, now they have a schedule, now they have clear objectives. The European path for Georgia has been perfectly landmarked. So let’s work and we are going to support the Ukrainian [Georgian] society in order to use this opportunity, they should not be deceived [disappointed], they should be encouraged. They have a positive Opinion talking about membership under some conditions. This is a big step forward, do not underestimate it. Use this opportunity, work on that.
Q. We are expecting Communiqués which you will be issuing on the relationship between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In light of the Ukraine war and the problem of energy in the international market, how do you see the relation between the European Union and the GCC in the years ahead?
There is nothing new. We are not going to talk about it, today it is not on the agenda. But it is clear, and let me repeat again that the GCC, the Gulf countries, are very important for us. We have issued a strategy for the Gulf [Joint Communication on a Strategic Partnership with the Gulf], let us implement it.
Q. Do you expect any Member States to oppose candidate status for Ukraine?
No. Well, the leaders will have to discuss it. The Opinion of the [European] Commission is on the table. I cannot anticipate the results, but I have not heard anyone opposing.
Q. Do you expect accession talks opening for Ukraine and Moldova next year?
I do not know. Step by step. I know that you always want to know about the next event but let us take care of today’s event. Thank you.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-227377