Press Releases G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the session on ‘The G20’s role in dealing with the ongoing international tensions’

G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the session on ‘The G20’s role in dealing with the ongoing international tensions’

Dear Chairman,

I would like to welcome the African Union’s representatives to their first G20 meeting as a permanent member. In 25 years from now, one out of four people in the world will be living in Africa. That is why an African strong voice is essential when we discuss global challenges.

Today, the global landscape is marked by multiple crises, confrontation and escalation.

Multipolarity is a living reality, but multilateralism – that should underpin it – is in crisis.

Yes, today we are facing serious crises. Let me mention two of them: the war of aggression against Ukraine, and the Israel-Palestine conflict in Gaza.

It is almost exactly two years ago, that Russia launched its war of aggression against Ukraine.

War is back in Europe, but this should concern every country in the world. It is a clear violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter: sovereignty and territorial integrity. And it affects all of us, in terms of economics, scarcity and destabilisation.

At the same time, we cannot turn a blind eye to the tragedy suffered by the civilian population in Gaza. Too many innocent lives have been lost. 90% of the population [is] being displaced from their homes. This humanitarian catastrophe [is] not a natural one, it is not an earthquake, not a flood. It is a man-made humanitarian catastrophe, and it must stop.

That is why 26 out of 27 Members of the European Union urge the Israeli government not to take military action in Rafah and require an immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a sustainable ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages, and [the] provision of more and quicker humanitarian assistance.

The issue is not that Israel has to fulfil international law and humanitarian law. Certainly, everybody has to do it. The issue is: are they doing that?

That is why two Members of the European Union – two Member States – have put the question [on the table]. We will discuss about that in the framework of our EU-Israel Association Agreement. This is particularly important following the binding International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision.

The European Union has been warning about the situation in the West Bank. It is not only Gaza, it is [also] about the West Bank. The West Bank is boiling. Extremist settlers are indiscriminately attacking Palestinian civilians.

Some EU Members have already taken actions by sanctioning violent settlers.  What is happening in the West Bank is the real obstacle – well, there are many obstacles, but this is an important one – to the two-states solution.

Dear ministers, we may disagree on Ukraine. But we agree on the need for a two-states solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. And if there is a consensus that only a two-states solution will resolve this conflict – too [long-lasting] conflict -, then we need to redouble our efforts to implement this solution.

If we reaffirm this objective here today – everybody – we need to work on how to achieve it. And dear Mauro [Vieira, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil], dear Minister, we would appreciate if, in your press conference, you could mention that the G20 supports this two-states solution. And we need a framework – and which better framework than the United Nations? As you, dear Argentinian [Foreign] Minister [Diana Mondino], have said. The [UN] Security Council can provide this framework by recognising the principle of the two-states solution through a unanimous resolution that could give it international legitimacy.

We have to prevent regional escalation – many of you have said that. That is why the European Union has just launched a new maritime operation in the Red Sea, [Operation] Aspides, to protect commercial vessels. Many countries in the region are the first to suffer from it [the escalation in the Red Sea]. It is a defensive operation, and it shows the commitment of the European Union as a security provider.

Unhappily, we devoted financial resources that were meant to be spent better on sustainable development to be reallocated to strengthen defence and military production. This is a bad allocation of resources, but this is the consequence of some actions.

Our priorities should be a just peace in Ukraine – both ‘just’ and ‘peace’ in Ukraine – and an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Both tragedies are man-made. But none of them is in our destiny. Ending them will free up political and financial resources to address many of the challenges that need solving.

The G20, that represents more than 80% of the world’s GDP, has a crucial role in that.

Thank you.


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