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

It has been a long weekend – a long and intense weekend, trying to take our people out of Sudan. It has been a complex operation and it has been a successful operation.

First, the staff of the European Union – 20 people – are already in Europe, and many more European Union citizens and others are already out of Sudan. I cannot give you the concrete figure – it is more than 1 000 people for sure. I want to thank France especially for taking our people out, and I want to thank the combined efforts of many countries that took their nationals out, but also all nationals that they could pick.

So, it has been a successful operation, but complex. I was in touch with the two generals fighting in Sudan. And now the ceasefire has stopped, it is over. We have to continue pushing for a political settlement. We cannot afford that Sudan – which is a very populated country – implodes, because it will be sending shockwaves around the whole Africa.

We are going to talk about Georgia also. We will have a meeting, we will discuss. We will talk about the adhesion perspective, the security situation. For us, Georgia is a very important country, and remember that it has a specific security issues, because its territory is partially occupied by Russia. So, this is an important day to discuss about Georgia.

Also, about Moldova, which is more or less in the same situation: countries who are on the border and see the [Russian] war [in Ukraine] very close – they feel the threat.

Talking about feeling the threat, also the statement by the Chinese Ambassador [to France, Lu Shaye] about the sovereignty and about the existence of the countries that were part of the Soviet Union, this is something that we will discuss in the framework of the China issue.

The [Foreign Affairs] Council will start discussing about China, in order to prepare the European [Council] in June, maybe, that will reassess and recalibrate our strategy towards China.

We will approve the deployment of a [civilian] mission in Moldova that will be opened officially, during the next Conference on the European Political Community.

And as you see, there is a long and complex Council [ahead], as always.

First, we will assess the situation in Sudan, and then we will start assessing how do we deal with China, how do we recalibrate our strategy with China. We have been talking a lot about China in the last days, but we will have to continue discussing about China because it is one of the most important issues of our foreign policy.

And now I am ready to answer your questions.


Q. On Ukraine, Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro] Kuleba has expressed frustration about the hold ups to agree on track two of the ammunition plan. He has asked you to help persuade the Member States to reach an agreement. Will you do that? And do you expect an agreement in the coming days? How long will it take?

Exactly. I have been talking with Minister Kuleba. I have been explaining that there are two tracks. The first track is on the way, we have received requests for reimbursement for €600 million. I cannot tell you exactly the ammunitions which are behind the €600 million [and] in which situation they are, [but] I have been asked to pay €600 million for that.

And [on] the second track: yes, still there is some disagreement, but I am sure everybody will understand that we are in a situation of extreme urgency. I am sure that in the following days we will reach [an agreement]. But while we look for this legal agreement, do not believe that we are just sitting and waiting. The overall work is going on. And once the legal agreement will be reached, the practical work will be finished. So, it is not, first one thing and then the other thing. It is overlapping.

Q. On Sudan, when diplomats are withdrawn, this is an indication that things are very bad on the ground. Do you think that Sudan is on the brink of a civil war? And you have been in close contact with your counterparts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, how can the international community help the Sudanese not to go very bad?

The international community, altogether, [is] putting pressure on both sides in order to stop this war. Yes, I have been talking with all the neighbours, all friends, even with the two generals in command of the [opposing] forces. The international community message is the same: you have to stop the war, silence the guns and start talking and looking for a political solution, because there is no military solution to this war. And that is what we are doing.

And we take our people out because I do not have to explain to you what is happening there. You watch the TV. Our people need to be out because they are in the middle of the war, some of them were wounded. It is impossible to continue working as a diplomat. So, the best thing to do with them is to take them out.

Q. But your Ambassador [to Sudan, Aidan O’Hara] stayed there.

Yes, he had to stay there. The captain is the last one leaving the ship.

Q. Who is securing the EU Ambassador over there?

He is no longer in Khartoum. He is in Sudan, but no longer in Khartoum.

Q. On the comments of the Chinese Ambassador on French television, you said it will be discussed, but what kind of response can we expect?

I cannot tell you in advance what will be the result of the discussion, but it will for sure a strong position in order to clarify what is the official thinking of the Chinese government about the sovereignty and independence of some of the Member States.

Q. On sanctions, some Member States are also demanding nuclear energy to be included in sanctions. What is your position? Will the European Union be agreeing on this?

Today we are not in a position to finish a new package of sanctions on Russia. We will continue discussing.


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