Press Releases EU-CELAC Summit: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell upon arrival

EU-CELAC Summit: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell upon arrival

Well, here we are, eight years later – eight years after the last meeting, we are here holding this EU-CELAC meeting [Summit], which, in the current geopolitical circumstances, is a political imperative. It is a moment to reunite, to relaunch and to rebuild our relation.

We are all together, one billion people, 60 countries. I think it is going to be a success in itself. But the meeting is something more than a meeting, it is the starting point of a new relationship between the European Union and Latin America [and the Caribbean].

We [will] talk about digital alliances. We will have a specific meeting with the Mercosur Ministers, another meeting with the Caribbean [Leaders], another [one] about Venezuela. And then, the plenary session [of the Summit], plus the Business Forum [Round Table], the Social Forum. It is full of events, and I am very happy that most European and Latin American [and Caribbean] leaders came.

For me, it was one of the most important events during my term. We worked a lot for that to happen, and I am sure it will be a success and a good starting point for a stronger relation between Latin America and the Caribbean and the Europeans.

Estamos unidos por la cultura, estamos unidos por la historia. Somos socios naturales, pero hemos de ser algo más que el resultado de la historia. Hemos de ser el resultado de la voluntad política de seguir trabajando juntos.

Hay que hacer inversiones, hay que hacer cables ópticos, hay que hacer carreteras, puentes, fábricas, pero sobre todo hay que crear derechos y libertades que unan políticamente esas dos partes del mundo que tienen tanto en común.


  1. Are you afraid that the compromise on Ukraine [in the joint declaration] will be watered down too much?

Yes, we are working on that. I am sure we will find a way of saying what has already been said in the United Nations. I do not expect more than that – to repeat what has already been said at the United Nations about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  1. Why did it take so long [to hold an EU-CELAC Summit]? Why now?

That is a good question. Why did it take so long? Well, the COVID-19 [pandemic] “helped”. During the COVID-19 [pandemic], we stayed two years without diplomatic contacts [in person]. But it is not only the COVID-19, because the COVID-19 did not last eight years. It is because – you know – since we were natural partners, we did not pay enough attention. This is the reason; Europeans did not pay enough attention to the Latin Americans. And now we have to react and take into account the new geopolitical scenario with the emergence of China and the new role of Russia. We have to express and to show not only concern, but engagement.

  1. Does that mean that you are afraid that you are losing the race against China, especially in Latin America?

We are not in a race with China. China is growing. It is very big, and it is growing, it is buying. It has become the first trade partner with Latin America. [It is] something normal. But we continue being the first investor in Latin America. And the role of Russia in terms of economic relations is purely negligeable.

  1. About the [Black Sea] Grain Initiative.

That is another big question. I am so sorry to say that today Russia has refused to prolong this deal. This is something very serious that will create a lot of problems to many people around the world. We, from our side, will do everything we can through our Solidarity Lanes, in order to make available the Ukrainian grain to the people that eat from it. I have to blame Russia for this decision, completely unjustified, weaponising the hunger of the people.

  1. Why does Russia blame the EU for not lifting the sanctions to allow [the export of] their agriculture products?

That is complete nonsense. It has nothing to do [with that], that is just an excuse.

  1. On climate change, do you worry about global warming?

Certainly, I am worried. How can I not be worried about global warming? For sure, we are.

  1. What are you talking about today [regarding] global warming?

Yes, we will talk about it, and we have to discuss on how we can cooperate with the Latin American countries, who have the largest biodiversity in the planet and the big green zone in the Amazon.

  1. After the war started, you saw the potential of Latin American countries being providers of resources to the war. This scenario made Europe pay attention to Latin America and say: “okay, we need to strengthen the relations”.

We do not have to look at the Latin American countries through an extractive approach. We have to take very much care not to appear as someone who is worried and concerned about Latin American countries because we need their materials. Yes, we need them, but it is not just because of that. We have to support these countries in order to add value to their mineral resources. Latin America has a long history of rejecting extractive approaches, and we have to continue that way.

  1. Do you see any chance that there will be a breakthrough on Mercosur today?

I do not expect a big breakthrough, but I expect to express the will of continuing working hard on that in order to reach an agreement before the end of the year.

  1. Our minerals – copper, lithium – Latin America is a big source, but is it going to be a topic in this Summit?

Well, not specially. I do not see that it is going to be a specific topic. But it is important for both parties.

  1. ¿Qué podemos esperar de esta Cumbre?

De esta Cumbre debemos esperar que América Latina y Europa se cojan de la mano y enfrenten juntos los problemas globales del mundo, trabajando en colaboración. Hace mucho tiempo que no nos hemos hablado unos a otros, y espero que hoy sea el punto de partida de una relación más fuerte y más comprometida, buscando el interés común de estas dos regiones del mundo que están más cerca la una de la otra por razones históricas y culturales. Hemos de ir más allá de la historia para construir un futuro basado en la voluntad de trabajar juntos. Ya verá, de aquí saldremos cogidos de la mano, enfocando al futuro.

  1. ¿También se hablará de derechos humanos con Nicaragua y con Venezuela?

Por supuesto, claro que sí.

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