Foreign Affairs Council: Remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival

(Source EEAS)
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Today we have, as always, a very intense agenda. Two hot spots: Russia-Ukraine on one side and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the other.

Do not dismiss the importance of what is happening in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is going to take an important part of our meeting today, because the nationalist and separatist rhetoric is increasing in Bosnia and Herzegovina and jeopardising the stability and even the integrity of the country. The [EU Foreign Affairs] Ministers will have to take a decision on how to stop these dynamics in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to avoid that the country can fall apart in pieces. This is a critical situation, and the Ministers will have to take some decisions about it.

And then, certainly, we will have Minister [Dmytro] Kuleba, Foreign Affairs Minister from Ukraine. I had a meeting with him yesterday, we had dinner, a long discussion understanding better how is the situation on the ground. The Ministers will discuss with him how to continue structuring our support, thinking about our answer, and giving all assurances we can [give] in order to make him sure that we will continue supporting Ukraine at the most critical moment, if this happens.

Another important thing – although not a hot topic but an important one- is the meeting with the Gulf [Cooperation Council]. We are going to have [it] here. I will co-chair with the Saudi Foreign Minister [Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud] a meeting with the countries of the Gulf. The Gulf requires more and more attention, not just because now we want to have more gas from the Gulf, but it is a much more important region, and we have to pay more attention to it.

There are other topics, but I think these three are the most important ones.


Q. What do you recommend to your Ukrainian colleagues with this shelling going on and they getting more and more nervous?

Well, I do not see the Minister [of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine] nervous, not at all. On the contrary, as Mr [Volodimir] Zelensky [President of Ukraine] said the worst enemy would be being in panic mode. They are not in panic mode. They are worried, they are concerned, they feel threatened, but I do not see them nervous at all.

Q. Do you like this idea of a potential Summit?

A Summit? Yes, as many diplomatic tools that one could imagine, should be mobilised. Summits, meetings at the level of Ministers, at the level of leaders, whatever format, whatever way of talking and sitting at the table and trying to avoid war is badly needed and we will support anything that can make diplomatic conversations the best way – the only way – to look for a solution to the crisis.

About sanctions, I know you are very worried about sanctions. The Ministers will continue knowing about the situation. In fact, the work is done. We are ready.

Q. What are you going to do now?

I will call for an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council and I will present the sanctions at the right moment. When the moment comes, I will call for an extraordinary meeting, because sanctions are a competence of the Council. I want to repeat it because it is important to know who decides what in these institutions. And it is the Council who takes this decision under my proposal. We are ready to do that when the moment comes and I hope, and we are working for the moment not to come.

Q. You excluded almost the scenario of the war. Are you still excluding this scenario?

I am working for it.

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