European Union External Action

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

Brussels, 15/11/2021 - 11:19, UNIQUE ID: 211115_10

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Today it is going to be a very busy day for us. First, we are going to have the Foreign Affairs Council. After [this] we are going to have the meeting with the Ministers of the Eastern Partnership. And after [this, we will have the] Jumbo meeting with Foreign and Defense Ministers to start talking about the Strategic Compass.

On the Foreign Affairs Ministers: we are going to review the whole set of problems starting certainly with the situation in Belarus. Yesterday, I had phone calls with my Polish [Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau], Lithuanian [Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabrielius Landsbergis] and Belarusian Minister [Vladimir Makei] also with the Secretary General of the United Nations [António Guterres] in order to prepare the meeting. We had the opportunity to share with the Secretary General of the United Nations how things are going on the ground. I talked to the Belarusian Minister to tell him that the situation was totally unacceptable that humanitarian help has to be provided. And that we have to think about how we can solve the problem starting by stopping the [migration] flow. Stopping the flights. This is almost done.

During these days we have been talking with countries of origin and transit. My colleague [Vice-President Margaritis] Schinas is in Baghdad. And I think that from my point of view, the inflow of human beings is becoming under control. But we have to provide humanitarian assistance to these people and to prevent any kind of hybrid attack against the European Union border. This is something that will take an important part of our meeting.

But there are many other issues. The situation in the Western Balkans, in particular in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where there are tendencies which are undermining the unity of the country and hampering its development, and its way towards the European Union. The Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, also. And in general, the situation in the Balkans, which is not especially good.

The Sahel will also be part of our work today. Last night, [there was] another attack in Burkina Faso, 20 more people dead, killed. Our security starts in the Sahel and we have to engage more with the region. 

We will talk also about the situation in Varosha, in Cyprus. But mainly in Sudan and Ethiopia. We have to try to avoid [an] implosion of the country. The situation in Ethiopia is becoming worse by [every] moment and we will try to avoid the implosion of the country.

Question: How effective these sanctions could be for Belarus?  

The sanctions are always effective because they affect people. They affect their wealth, and their capacity of movement. And today we are going to approve a new package of sanctions against Belarusian people responsible for what's happening in the country. And we're going to enlarge the framework in order to implement all the sanctions to other people, airlines, travel agencies and everybody involved on this illegal push of migrants on our borders. 

Do you feel the risk of a military escalation?  

By the time being, we are not talking about military.

What about Eastern Partnership? Do you not have the feeling that it is dying out already this Eastern Partnership? 

The Eastern Partnership dying out? On the contrary we are paying more and more attention to our Eastern neighbours. Certainly not to Belarus who will not be part of this meeting, but we are going to prepare the next summit. We are paying more and more attention to the Eastern Partnership because as you know, the situation there becomes very complicated with the hybrid attacks, with using the gas and the migrants as weapons. For us, at that moment it is mainly the most important part of our Foreign Policy. 

Can the European Union put sanctions against the Ethiopian Government to push for the human rights situation?  

That is what we are doing every day, every time, since the beginning of the crisis. We have been pushing for the respect of human rights. But at this moment the important thing is to try to avoid the implosion of the country.

How do you see the principle “More for more, less for less”. Ukraine, Georgia and Republic of Moldova have created a Trio inside the Eastern Partnership countries and declare that they to be part of the European family.  

We are going to discuss with all of them together.

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