Foreign Affairs Council: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival

(Source: EEAS)

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Good morning,

Thank you, Mélanie [Joly, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada]. It is a great pleasure to have this meeting today with Canada. Canada is one of the most reliable partners. We have a Strategic Partnership Agreement that covers almost everything. Canada is pushing us a lot in order to advance on the sanctions and to present a united front against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

We are also very much worried about the consequences of this war, all around the world. We are going to face a deep economic crisis, because of the price increases in electricity and food. We have to unite our forces in order to explain to the world that it is not because of our sanctions, it is because of the war itself. Russia is blocking the Ukrainian wheat from going out [of] Ukraine and reaching the markets – we will discuss about it. I am sure we will continue reinforcing our already strong unity and association. 

Q&A

Q. Can you give your view of Hungary’s position right now with regards to your next package of sanctions. Will you be able to win Hungary over?

I would like to stress the importance of the presence of Canada here. We will discuss the sanctions that Canada and the European Union are taking. You know, Mélanie, we are 27 and I need to convince the 27. Among them, they are some who have more problems than others. It is an objective situation that some Member States face more difficulties because they are more dependent, because they are landlocked, because they do not have the possibility of receiving tankers directly. They only have oil through pipelines – coming from Russia. So certainly, we will discuss about it and we will do our best to de-block the situation. I cannot ensure that it is going to happen because the positions are quite strong. But I think that if we understand the particular situation of some Member States and all of us make an effort to present a united front against Russia, we will succeed.

Q. One of your Ministers just said that you were taken hostage by one country concerning the package of sanctions. How will you get out of this situation?

As always, by discussing, trying to understand the reasons of everybody. My role is not to blame anyone, but to try to build consensus.

Q. What about the support for Finland and Sweden, who are about to join NATO? What kind of support can the EU give to those countries?

Let me stress my strong support to Sweden and Finland. Some minutes ago, I had a conversation with the Swedish Minister [for Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde], who was kind enough to call me, to inform that the process has started, that they are going to inform the King, and that there is strong support for this decision inside the Swedish society and the Swedish political spectrum. So, I think the European Union Member States will support this decision, and I hope we could override the opposition of some members of NATO. 

And also, not only Canada, today – apart from you, Mélanie – we are receiving the visit of the six Foreign Ministers of the six Western Balkans countries. It is a way of showing how much important the Western Balkans are for us, how much important is the accession process. I had a meeting with them a couple of days ago here in Brussels, and today they will be sitting in the Foreign Affairs Council to discuss with us about the situation in the Western Balkans – very much affected by the economic crisis. And also, we will have a conversation by videoconference with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Mr [Dmytro] Kuleba, and you [Mélanie Joly] will be also with us attending this meeting and discussing with him, in order to know what is the latest situation in the ground. The Ukrainians continue resisting very fiercely, and we will continue providing them with arms to resist.

Q. Georgia, Moldova and also Ukraine are waiting for candidate status next month. Do you think that you will have a positive answer for them?

I cannot advance what the [European] Commission’s Opinion will be, but we are working on it much quicker than ever.

Q. What kind of heavy weapons will be financed with the next 500 million euros?

I would not call them heavy weapons. They are ordinary weapons to be used in an attrition war: artillery and armoured tanks. The normal weapons that you use in this kind of war.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-225350

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