Press Releases Informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich): Remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival

Informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich): Remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival

Well, before [we start], allow me to express my deep condolences to the people of Pakistan. They are facing a massive floods and the news that are coming in the last hours show that more than 1,000 people have died as a consequence of this floods that has been covering with water half of a surface of such a big country.

This is another climate alteration, but I want to express the European Union’s concerns and solidarity, and our availability to support Pakistan as much as we can, through our Civil Protection Mechanism.

Going back to the Council’s work, after the [informal meeting of] Defence Ministers, we will have the [informal meeting with] the Foreign Affairs Ministers.

We are going to talk about Ukraine – that is unavoidable. We have been talking about Ukraine from the military point of view, [about] our support to their efforts. Now, we are going to talk about [it] more from the political point of view: What is happening? Which is the position of Russia? What can we do in order to stop this war?

Because you know, the situation on the ground remains very tense. The Ukrainians are taking the military initiative. The war continues. There are also figures about the number of casualties. The material and human cost for Ukraine is immense, and we have to make all efforts in order to stop this war.

But as far as the war continues, we have to continue supporting Ukraine as much as needed and as long as needed.

This war also has geopolitical consequences for the whole world. The agreement that has been brokered by the United Nations has allowed millions of tons of grains to go out of Ukraine. The first ship arrived to Djibouti, and in the Horn of Africa, it will be a big relief. But all over the world, and especially in the emerging countries, a triple crisis is looming – a financial crisis, an energy crisis and a food crisis. And it is going to have very bad consequences for the stability in many parts of the world. So we have to continue, not only supporting Ukraine, but being ready to deploy efforts especially in Africa.

And Africa will be the first point of the agenda of this [informal] Foreign Affairs Council.


Q. What is the way forward for the tourist visa ban for Russian citizens?

This is something that will have to be discussed. As you know, this is an informal Council – no decision can be taken. But a clear political orientation, I am sure will come from it. The positions are different. There are diverging positions – some Member [States] want a complete ban, others want just to work on the frame of the current Visa Facilitation ban. I cannot advance the final result, but I am sure that we will be able to look for a balanced approach to this problem [by] being more selective. But I cannot anticipate the result of the discussion of my colleagues.

Q. On the political and economic relations with Russia, which further steps will you discuss?

On the political and economic relations with Russia, you know that we have the strongest package of sanctions – the restrictive measures against Russia. Certainly, this will be discussed – what is the effectiveness of these sanctions. I am strongly convinced that these sanctions are having very tough consequences for the Russian economy, for technology, industry, transportation, development of new oil and gas fields. The [Foreign Affairs] Ministers will discuss about it. Some voices have been asking for reviewing the sanctions, but I do not think it is going to be the mood of the Ministers. The sanctions will continue.

Thank you.

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