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

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

Good morning,

Well, today we have [on the agenda] – as always – Ukraine and [the] Middle East.

There is a Jumbo [format of the meeting] – together ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs – because we need to make the point on the capacity of the EU Member States to increase the support to Ukraine.

You know that we have been giving a lot of warnings, letters, asking them to see what we can do. We need more ammunition. We need more launchers, [but] launchers without the interceptors is like a cannon [or] like a gun without ammunition. We need both. We need to supply interceptors to the batteries that they already have, and increase the number of batteries. And let’s see what the Member States are able to supply, because in Brussels we do not have [it], it is the Member States who have it.

Secondly, we have to talk about the Middle East.

[Regarding] the Middle East, we will talk about the sanctions on Iran. There is a great package of sanctions, I hope Member States – all of them – will agree because you know, it needs unanimity.

The situation in Gaza continues being exactly more or less the same thing and worse. Today there has been new bombings, a lot of civilian victims.

In the West Bank, also the [settlers] attacks against the Palestinians are increasing. We have to look again at the sanctions against the violent settlers. We approved last week a small package.

We will discuss about Sudan also, a war that everybody has forgotten. It is one of the deadliest wars in the world today.

So, let’s see what happens today. I hope that we will be able to take some decisions.



Q. About Ukraine, Foreign Ministers – meeting after meeting – keep saying “We need to do more”. Can we expect concrete steps today?

I hope [so].

Q. How long is it taking for them to step up and do something more for Ukraine?

Look, we are working for Ukraine every day, not only the day there is a Council. We prepare decisions, we inform the Member States, we analyse the situation, we present requests, we see what they can do. It is not just because there is a Council – and I understand that it is the day of the press – but to support Ukraine, we work every day. And today is the day for the Member States to see what they can do, which are the needs and if, definitely, they are able to present proposals. But I cannot tell you before, I will tell you after [the meeting].

Q. The Irish and Spanish Heads of Government asked the European Commission to review the EU-Israel Association Agreement under the human rights element. Is it your understanding that nothing has happened on the Commission side to carry out that review?

Well, as far as I know, the Commission has still not answered to the two States who asked. [But to clarify, these States] They did not ask for a review of the Association Agreement, they asked to analyse if – “if”, there is a big “if” – the behaviour of Israel is something that could lead to consider reviewing the Association Agreement. There is an “if” and a [“could”]. As far as I know, nothing has happened on the Commission side.On my side, I called for a political orientation debate [in the FAC], I made the proposal of calling for a meeting of the Association Council in order to discuss with our Israeli partners. This proposal was rejected. I made the proposal also to call on the Foreign Minister of Israel [Israel Katz] to come to the Foreign Affairs Council – the invitation was done, there is still no date. But we have a Special Envoy for Human Rights [Olof Skoog] and the United Nations is working with it. So, I am doing what I can in order to study the situation and come back to the Council at a certain moment.

Q. The proposal was rejected by who?

By the Council – the majority.

Q. Is it your feeling that in Gaza, Israel is – anyway – going to invade Rafah?

We are asking Israel in every possible manner that they should not attack Rafah, they should protect the civilians. I will insist once again: there is more than 1 million people, which will be massacred if there is an attack from Israel. So, I can only insist – and all the Member States insist – on this not happening. But I am not in the command of the Israeli army.

Q. Will there be discussions on sanctions on the nuclear programme on Iran?

The nuclear programme of Iran is not on the table today.

Q. Mr Borrell, have you thought about sanctions against Iranian airplanes or spare parts?

We are going to take measures with respect to the production, and exports of missiles and drones. This is what we are going to discuss today.

Q. Mr Borrell, have you asked Spain – for the Spanish government – to give one of its Patriots to Ukraine?

We have been asking all Member States to do whatever they can in order to increase the air defence capacity of Ukraine.

Thank you.


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