Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

New York, 20/09/2021 – 22:02


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Good evening,

Today, we have had a meeting – not a Council -, because it was just an informal meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the European Union. And we discussed this busy week here in New York.

You know that the General Assembly of the United Nations is the peak of international diplomacy. And it is also a good moment to be in New York after last year’s fully virtual UNGA. We are very happy that this year we could be in person.

Here we have the most important diplomatic platform, the most global platform, where we need to align our political priorities and put European diplomacy into full action, and to speak with one voice. That is what we have been trying to do tonight: to fix our position and coordinate our presence in the different meetings, events, and bilaterals that all of us are going to have.

The main issue in our agenda was Afghanistan. We talked about Afghanistan after the Gymnich meeting in Slovenia and we stressed the importance of increasing our engagement with regional partners, the neighbours, the closest neighbours, and the United Nations through this regional platform on Afghanistan. This regional, Well, more than regional it is also global, the impact of the developments of events in Afghanistan is very serious and we need to see how we can support the neighbours of Afghanistan and our regional partners.

But it is not only about the movement of people, it is not only about migration. There are several other issues which are also of the utmost importance for us: the terrorist threat and the criminal activities, mainly related to drug trafficking. You know that Afghanistan is the biggest producer of drugs in the world. And, certainly, the fact that the new government is composed the way it is composed, is something very far away from the benchmark that we decided in Slovenia to calibrate the way the Afghan government is going to behave.

We continue working on a European Union presence on the ground. I am not going to give any detail about that for security reasons, but we work on this in order to facilitate the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid and also to support, to coordinate, to organise the departure of European citizens and Afghans at risk. Certainly, it will only be possible if the security conditions allow for it. But, for that, it is good to have the ways and means to be in touch with the Afghan government. To be in touch. Let us be clear: to be in touch with, does not mean at all anything that could be bestowing a formal recognition or legitimacy on the caretaker government. On that, Council conclusions were adopted – not today, but by written procedure – and will be published soon.

We also had a look at two issues which are of the utmost importance those days. First, the reports coming from Mali, where it seems that the transitional authorities are discussing the possibility – as far as I know, no decision has been taken – to invite the Wagner group to operate in the country. This, certainly, could seriously affect European Union’s relations with Mali. We already know the Wagner group and the way they have been behaving in different parts of the world and, certainly, this would not help our relation with the Mali government. So, both bilaterally at the European Union level, we will consider this possibility with the transitional government in Mali.

The third issue that has been discussed by the Ministers is the announced alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The defence alliance between these three countries was announced last week, just on the same day – by accident -, in which we were presenting our Indo-Pacific Strategy. Certainly, we were caught by surprise by this announcement that came together with a sudden cancellation of the submarine contract with France by the Australian government that, as I said, coincide with this announcement. And the Ministers discussed it, considering it very disappointing. During the discussion, the Ministers expressed clear solidarity with France. This announcement runs counter to the call for greater cooperation with the European Union in the Indo-Pacific.

As you know, this morning, in order to prepare for the informal meeting, I met with my Australian counterpart. The meeting was foreseen much before the announcement of this alliance and the breakdown of the contract. I met with my Australian counterpart, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, I enquired about the reasons behind the lack of prior consultation on AUKUS and regretted that this alliance excluded the European partners, who have a strong presence in the Pacific, like in the case of France. And I stressed the fact that the current challenges to stability in the region call for more cooperation and coordination amongst like-minded partners, and certainly Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are like-minded partners with the European Union. More cooperation, more coordination, less fragmentation. This is what is needed to achieve a stable and peaceful environment in the Indo-Pacific region. We will continue implementing our Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-210886

Source – EEAS: https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/104404/informal-eu-foreign-ministers-meeting-remarks-high-representative-josep-borrell-press_en

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