Press Releases European Council: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell upon arrival

European Council: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell upon arrival

We talked about how we are protecting our critical infrastructure together, the European Union and NATO.

This is a new field of cooperation to protect critical infrastructure and it is good that [NATO Secretary-General, Jens] Stoltenberg will share these concerns with us.

Then, there are urgent issues.

The situation in Russia – [it is] unavoidable. It is clear that Putin [comes] out of this crisis weakened, but a weaker Putin is a greater danger, so we have to be very much aware of the consequences.

Everything remains unclear: what has happened, who were behind this attempt of military upheaval, military rebellion. Some generals have been arrested, so I suppose that Putin will be in a cleaning mode internally and in a more assertive mode.

Ukraine has to continue being supported. The only answer that we can give to whatever happens in Russia is to continue supporting Ukraine.

And, since I am in charge of the European Peace Facility (EPF), I will ask the leaders to continue funding it. The good news is that we already have €3.5 billion more, not only for Ukraine.

We continue our training mission – reaching 30.000 soldiers [trained]. This is our engagement. We can study what is happening, what [Yegveny] Prigozhin is going to do with the Wagner [group]. Us, we have to concentrate on our task [and] continue supporting Ukraine.

Then, certainly, [we will discuss] China and the economic security. China and economic security are related issues, but not exactly the same one.

Keep in mind that de-risking in the end is something that we have to do. It is our duty, it is our job. So, this is not about China, it is not something we have to negotiate with China. It is something that we have to do, knowing that it will take [a] long [time]. So, the sooner we start, the better.

Latin America [is] important.

[On the Western] Balkans and Kosovo-Serbia, I will debrief the leaders on all my work of those days and ask for their support to continue putting pressure on them, in order to avoid the escalation and go back to the normal.

The Member States decided at the last Foreign Affairs Council that measures should be taken – economically and politically – to make clear [to them] that, if they do not contribute to the de-escalation, it comes with a cost.



Q. How should the EU react to a potential period of instability in Russia? How should the EU prepare?

Yes, it seems. It seems that Putin is not the only master in town and that he has lost what Machiavelli said is the basis of a state, which is the monopoly of force. Putin has lost the monopoly of force, and certainly [an] unstable Russia becomes also a risk. Until now we were looking at Russia as a threat, because it was a force, and force has been used in Ukraine. Now, we have to look at Russia as a risk because of the internal instability.

Q. How do you prepare for that? Do you need a strategy? Do you need to think about scenarios?

We need that. We think about scenarios. We need a deep analysis. That is what – be sure – all the intelligence services in the European Union and Member States are doing.

Q. Ukraine wants security guarantees until the membership of NATO. Should the European Union provide such security guarantees? How could it do that?

Now, that we talk about security commitments. From my side, it means that the military support to Ukraine has to [be in the] long haul. It is not just the next €500 million [support] package. It is not just the next arms [deliveries]. It is something that has to be in the long term. During the war and after the war, we have to make Ukraine able to defend [itself]. So, the European Peace Facility for Ukraine maybe has to become a Ukrainian Defence Fund. The training has to continue, the modernisation of the army has to continue. Ukraine needs our commitment to continue ensuring their security during the war and after the war.

Q. How can the European Union de-risk its relations with China while at the same time continue to engage?

The relation with China? Certainly, we have to keep our relations with China, why should [we] not? We have to keep our relations with China because, as you know, our trade, investment and economic relations are so big that it is impossible to think about decoupling. Nobody is talking about it. But certainly, this relation has to be based on an understanding.

The Foreign Affairs Ministers approved a text presented to [the] Gymnich [meeting], and now, this text will be used by the leaders to give more guidance. Yes, China is the three things we said: a rival, a competitor, [and] a partner. We have to operationalise these concepts. What does it mean, each one of them? How do we put them into practice?

But, as I said, de-risking is not about China. We do not have to negotiate with China our de-risking, it is our business. It is us – internally – who have to identify, first, which risks we are talking about and, secondly, how do we proceed to decrease these risks. But it is our work. Do not make others be responsible for our line – our full line. It is [up to] us to put a solution to that.

Q. Are you angry against Hungary, that is blocking the last tranche of the European Peace Facility (EPF)?

I am working to unblock [the situation].

Q. On migration [inaudible].

On migration, I look at migration from the external side. The external side is related to the crises. A crisis today, somewhere, it [means] more migrants tomorrow. There is a direct relationship between irregular migration – people desperately trying to reach our shores, putting their lives at risk – [and] some crises. For example, Sudan. Sudan is expelling tens of thousands of migrants. So, our work to fight irregular migration starts by engaging and try to help to avoid conflicts, and to support economic development. These are the root causes. Then, certainly, there is the fight against the smugglers and everything [else], but from the external point of view, from my portfolio, a crisis today, it is more migrants tomorrow. So, let us try to avoid crisis, and when one crisis erupts, we should have the possibility of supporting them more. Otherwise, you will have migrants.

Q. Is the Wagner crisis over?

Nobody knows what is going to happen with the Wagner [group], but it would be good that the African people understand what has happened in Russia. They should read the statement by [Yevgeny] Prigozhin, saying that Wagner went to Africa to steal African people – it is a message from him that should be widespread in Africa.

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