Thank you, Federica [Mogherini, Rector of the College of Europe], for these nice words. Thank you for organising this meeting.
I have to say that you look much younger. Now, three years later – three years after not being anymore the High Representative [for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy], you look much better. I am sure it is the atmosphere and the fantastic job that you have here – one of the best jobs one could imagine.
Thank you to all of you, and congratulations to all of you for having the extraordinary chance of studying here, in Bruges at the College of Europe. I am sure you are aware of how lucky you are.
Here, Bruges is a good example of the European garden. Yes, Europe is a garden. We have built a garden. Everything works. It is the best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion that the humankind has been able to build – the three things together. And here, Bruges is maybe a good representation of beautiful things, intellectual life, wellbeing.
The rest of the world – and you know this very well, Federica – is not exactly a garden. Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden. The gardeners should take care of it, but they will not protect the garden by building walls. A nice small garden surrounded by high walls in order to prevent the jungle from coming in is not going to be a solution. Because the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough in order to protect the garden.
The gardeners have to go to the jungle. Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us, by different ways and means.
Yes, this is my most important message: we have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world.
We are privileged people. We built a combination of these three things – political freedom, economic prosperity, social cohesion – and we cannot pretend to survive as an exception. It has to be a way of supporting the others facing the big challenges of our time.
So, thank you, Federica, for hosting this experience, this pilot programme of the [European] Diplomatic Academy.
As the diplomats say, one told me: “In diplomacy, you have to say the truth. You cannot lie – well, formally, you cannot lie. You have to say the truth. You have to say only the truth but not all the truth.” But if we want to engage frankly and honestly, to discuss about the real problems and looking for solutions, then you have to tell all the truth – but we will do it later.
Today, just let me tell you that I am happy to participate in what can be said – and you said that – a “moment of creation”, to be “present at the creation”. To be “present at the creation” are some words that were said many years ago by one of the most famous diplomats, George Kennan – in George Kennan’s memoirs. And these memoirs are still considered the best insider account of the framing of the United States policy in the post-war – with post war, I mean post-World War II.
Now, we are definitely out of the Cold War and the post-Cold War. The post-Cold War has ended with the Ukrainian war, with the Russian aggression against Ukraine. And we are certainly living also a “moment of creation” of a new world. Because this war is changing a lot of things, and certainly it is changing the European Union. This war will create a different European Union, from different perspectives.
There are people who say that this war means the end for the European Union to have a foreign policy because we are following blindly the United States. This narrative exists. Yesterday, in the plane, I was reading nice articles explaining this approach.
And from my side, it is just the contrary: this war has been an occasion for the European Union to be more assertive and to push for the creation of a European stand – from the foreign policy side and also from the military and defence perspective.
You know very well, Federica – because you have been me before me – that we were not only a foreign policy-builder, [but] also a security and defence builder. This position is a combination of what could be a Foreign [Affairs] Minister and a Defence Minister – both. And that is a very good thing because more than ever, foreign policy and defence policy go hand in hand.
Here we are, launching this European Diplomatic Academy. This is an idea that has been in my mind many years ago, much before becoming the High Representative for Foreign [Affairs] and Security Policy. This idea has been turning around – the [European] Parliament, the [European] Commission, Florence, Bruges. It is clear that we need it. Thanks to the support of some members of the European Parliament – and I want to make a special mention to one of them, to Nacho Sanchez Amor, a good friend of mine who is not here because he is acting as a Member of the Parliament. Thanks to the strong support of the European Parliament that has been very much instrumental in ensuring the funding to create this pilot project, we finally see a certain number of European young people – young diplomats – that want to become fully-fledged European diplomats.
Because today, what we have is kind of a mix of diplomats coming from different Member States’ diplomatic services. And that is good, we need to have on board everybody. But in the end, it is not the same thing. It is not the same thing to be a national diplomat and a European Union’s diplomat. Because the European Union is something different from each one of its Member States. It is the aggregation, the consolidation of a union which is in the making. I have diplomats working with me from all over Europe, and I am happy that here there are not only European Union Member States but people coming from Ukraine and other candidate countries. And I think that the participation of people coming from Ukraine and other candidate countries is essential and was a good idea – to look broader, to bring people that are still not in the [European] Union, but they will be one day in the Union. Because they will play a crucial role in the future of the European Union. It will not be the same with or without Ukraine. So, let’s have them on board from now [on] in order to build this mixture of ideas, identities, capabilities that makes the European Union work.
Thank you for the direction of this programme. Thank you also to the Florence Institute, the Maastricht Institute for conducting the feasibility study which will [pave] the way in order to make this pilot project a permanent reality. Because our purpose is to establish a fully-fledged [European] Diplomatic Academy – a permanent one – in order for the people that work in the European External [Action] Service to have first the knowledge that require this activity.
Someone working for us has to understand how the European Union works, and it is not easy. Even for me, it is not easy. They have to know what this represents, this club. Because at the end, we are a club of Member States that put together some – not all – of their capabilities, resources and political engagement. There is the [European] Council, the [European] Commission. There is the Council of the European Union. There is the Council of the Union. Who makes the difference?
People who work for us have to understand, first of all, how do we work. The complex institutional structure of the European Union and it is not something that one could imagine that comes from the sky. It has to be learnt. And here, in Bruges, you have a long experience of teaching how the European Union works.
This first course is taking place in a time of exceptional change. We are in a moment of creation. We live in a world of power politics. The rules-based system that we defend is challenged like never before, and our interdependency – which was supposed to be a good thing, preventing the war – now is becoming weaponised.
Well, the rules-based system – and here we have [President of Russia, Vladimir] Putin saying who decides which are these rules, challenging the system directly.
And thank God the system reacted very well yesterday with the vote at the United Nations with more than 140 countries rejecting the illegal annexation – the forced annexation – of a part of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. And we are happy – and I am happy – of this result. There was a lot of work behind it, a lot of outreach to many people in order to be sure that we were above the 140 line – which was the result of the first vote.
But if I can say – and even if there is a streaming -, I have also to say that I am worried because there were too many abstentions. When more or less 20% of the world community decided not to support or not to reject the Russian annexation – for me, it is too many. It is too many. We are happy because the bottle is quite full, but it is a little bit empty. We have to continue working in order to make this number of people who look to the other side and did not want to say clearly that they reject the annexation of parts of Ukraine in Russia.
We have to continue doing our diplomatic work in order to convince. I know that diplomacy is about values, and also about interest. And among these abstentions, there are a lot of calculations on interest: “No, I cannot vote against Russia because I am too much dependent on Russia”. It is not just a matter of being convinced, it is a matter of calculation of the interest and that is life. Everybody does that. We do. But [there were] too many abstentions.
We have to continue working diplomatically in order to make the world reject, still more clearly, his war against Ukraine – which as I said – is changing Europe because it is sending shockwaves around the world, creating challenges related to high prices of energy, high prices of food – here at home, but I can tell you, much more in other countries in Africa and Asia.
And then, there is the nuclear threat and Putin is saying he is not bluffing. Well, he cannot afford bluffing. And it has to be clear that the people supporting Ukraine and the European Union and the Member States, and the United Stated and NATO are not bluffing neither. And any nuclear attack against Ukraine will create an answer, not a nuclear answer but such a powerful answer from the military side that the Russian Army will be annihilated, and Putin should not be bluffing.
This is a serious moment in the history, and we have to show our unity, and our strength and our determination. Complete determination.
Yesterday, I was in another meeting discussing with other kinds of people about what is happening and what we are doing. And for me, it is clear. It is clear that we have to continue supporting Ukraine and we have to continue looking for diplomatic solutions when possible. For the time being, there are not but one day or another, there will have to be.
And we have to be ready to do as much as we do today supporting Ukraine on the peace negotiations because the world needs this war to stop. Because the consequences of this war – not for Ukrainians, who bear the biggest costs, not for us who are worried about the electricity bill or if we are going to have gas this winter – but for millions of people around the world. For them, it is much more difficult than for us. If you go to Somalia, for example, you will see the consequences of the war on one side, and the climate change on the other side, and both together create a dramatic situation.
Can you imagine that today in the Black Sea, there are more 100 ships loaded with two million tonnes of grain? Can you imagine? 100 ships – not ten [ships], 100 – one besides the other, loaded with two [million] tonnes of grain, waiting to be controlled in order to go through the Bosphorus and reach the world market. People are waiting for them, and for some people, they will come too late. And people will die of hunger because the grain is being stopped waiting for a control.
So, I have to make a call here to everybody engaged here in this control procedure, to speed it up. Because on the other side of the Bosphorus, people are waiting to eat, as dramatic as this. So, be aware of the world in which we are leaving, of how difficult it is going to be.
The work of diplomats – and you will be -, I hope that when you will be in office, the war will already be over. I do not expect that the war lasts as much that you have to take care of it. But, after this war, it will become a period of instability and we will have to build a new security order. How do we integrate Russia – the post-Putin Russia – in this world order is something that will put a lot of work for people thinking on diplomacy, and on how to practice and to implement it.
I think this is a good time, a good moment to create this academy. I count on you, Federica, and I count on the intellectual capacity of Bruges that does not need to be proved, in order to train the future European Union diplomats.
You are very close to Brussels. You have in Brussels a lot of expertise, a lot of people who know how to do it in practical terms, but they need intellectual support. They need more and more understanding; they need academic capacities and professional capacities being brought together. This is about this experience.
Today, there is not a clear difference between what is the diplomatic activity and what is the sectorial activity of policymakers. Everything has an external dimension and an internal dimension. Who is in charge of it? The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, because it is something that happens outside, or the sectoral responsibilities, because it is something that is related with very concrete things that happen at the same time inside and outside. [For example], migration, climate change and the fight against disinformation – both, each one of them has an internal dimension and an external dimension. Cybersecurity – is it an external problem or an internal problem? It is both.
I have been Minister of Foreign Affairs. I have been saying that my colleagues, all of them are also Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Because they travel, they talk with their colleagues outside their country, they discuss about climate, they discuss about migration, they discuss about disinformation.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has to be reinvented. They have to work in a different way because today everybody is a Minister of Foreign Affairs, because the foreign is internal and the internal is external. There is no longer a clear boundary. Who takes care of the internal dimension and who takes care of the external dimension? “You are in charge of the external dimension” – yes, but there is not a clear border between one thing and the other.
In some cases, it is internal, clearly, and the Minister of Interior has a lot to do on dealing with migration inside and in the borders but, before the borders, on the sources of migration, this is an external relations issue. Climate change is also another good example: it is a global problem so it has to do with the external world, but it is at the core of all internal policies.
That is why, I said Ministers of Foreign Affairs [have] to reinvent themselves in order to deal with these new situations, with a lot of competitors inside the policymaking structure.
You will have to learn it. And for you to be part of a better diplomatic activity and capacities, we need to build the institutions.
You, Federica before me, and Lady [Catherine] Ashton, before you, and even Javier Solana in the prehistoric times – I mean before the Treaty that created this two-head job –, we have been – and I am – working on institution-building. There comes the reference to Jean Monnet, which is unavoidable: “People [matter], institutions [matter] much more”. People go by, institutions remain.
There is a big difference between Europe and the rest of the world – well, the rest of the world, understand me what I mean, no? – is that we have strong institutions. The most important thing for the quality of life of the people is institutions. The big difference between developed and not developed is not the economy, it is institutions. Here, we have a judiciary – a neutral, independent judiciary. Here, we have systems of distributing the revenue. Here, we have elections that provide a free for the citizens. Here, we have the red lights controlling the traffic, people taking the garbage. We have these kinds of things that make the life easy and secure.
Institutions, that is what matters. It is very difficult to build institutions. We can build a road. We can go with a bulldozer and money and workers, and we can build a road. I cannot go to emerging countries and build institutions for them – they have to be built by them. Otherwise, it would be a kind of neo-colonialism.
The big difference between us and an important part of the rest of the world is that we have institutions. And we have to work [on the] institution, to build institutions. I would like very much to finish my mandate having built institutions, having built a stronger European Union diplomatic capacity and a stronger European Union diplomatic service. I know that what makes the difference is the quality of the human resources. Because an institution without people making it work, it is an empty building. It is the combination of institutional structures and people committed and able to make it work. An independent judiciary needs independent judges – otherwise, it does not work. An efficient diplomatic service needs rules, needs organisations, needs resources, needs procedures – but needs people. People, not only committed, but able to fulfil [their] commitment.
This capacity does not come from the sky. It will come from experiences like this, Federica. I have a lot of hope about what you are going to do here. It is a pilot exercise that has to become a permanent activity of training our people.
You are the first generation. You are the trailblazers of a process, and I hope that many others will come. And when the years come, and the European Diplomatic Academy will have grown and established itself, then, you will be able to present it as a moment of creation. And you will remember that it started here in Bruges in a day like this one.
Thank you for preparing the programme, I think [it] is a very good programme. Nothing similar in scope and content is available today in Europe, I am sure. Nothing with this broad scope, with the possibility of going to the border, of going to the offices to talk with the policymakers, to stay and work in a privileged place like this. I do not think there is another experience like this. I know that you, Federica, have been able to attract the best European Union politicians, experts, practitioners and diplomats, to lecture and to share their knowledge and experiences with you here.
I am jealous. I would like a lot to be you. I would like a lot to be able to sit, and learn, and to enjoy the possibilities that are being offered to you. You have a strong responsibility – use it. It is a unique opportunity. When you have the chance of being as privileged as you are, you have the duty of delivering, of engaging with all your intellectual capacity, not sparing efforts.
Study as much as you can in order to learn as much as you need and make this experience a successful process. The starting point of the production every year of generations of European diplomats that
they do not have anymore on their mind their country – well, they will always have their country on their mind. But the process of ‘sublimation’: going up, going further of [than] our national identity to really enjoy having another identity that is the European one, which is not contradictory with our previous identity.
I am always saying the same thing: I am Catalan, I am Spanish, I am European. There is no contradiction between these three things. On the contrary, they enrich me. I am a much better person because I can speak different languages, I can understand different situations. My identity has different layers, and the more layers I have and the better coexistence among them, a better human – man or woman – I am.
The European experience is about that: it is the integration of different identities in order to make [it] possible to live together, not in a confrontational way.
The history of Europe has been the confrontation of identities. The Catholics against the Protestants, the French against the Germans, the Germans against the French, the Spanish against [inaudible]. We have been able to overcome this battle of identity. Today, being French or German is not something that puts people one against the other.
Identity is today the real battlefield. Identity is coming back as a powerful matter. Remember what someone said, “it is the economy, stupid”? Now, “it is the identity, stupid”. Today, it is identity what matters. Identity can be manipulated, it can be presented as something that is closed: “My identity is incompatible with your identity. It is either you or me”. This “either you or me” leads to war. The beauty of the European experience is “you and me”, overcoming the heritage of the past and offering to the world the recipe for peaceful coexistence, cooperation, integration and development.
You will be one engine of this multiple-layer identity-building. Believe me, Europe is a good example for many things. The world needs Europe. My experience of travelling around the world is that people look at us as a beacon. Why [do] so many people come to Europe? Are there flows of illegal or irregular migrants going to Russia? Not many. No, they are coming to Europe but for good reasons.
Keep the garden, be good gardeners. But your duty will not be to take care of the garden itself but [of] the jungle outside.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-231375