Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Stockholm, 12.05.2023 

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Today, the meeting has two points [on the agenda]: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and recalibrating our relationship with China.

On the first issue, it is clear that we have to continue supporting Ukraine, and we have to do that in the long haul. Not just providing ammunition for tomorrow’s fight, but looking in the medium term and preparing a multiannual support to Ukraine. Ukraine has to be sure that we will support it [them], not just in the everyday battle in the war, but in the long haul.

And Russia has to understand – Putin has to understand – that we will not fall. So, stop waiting for us to get tired. We will not. This is about Ukraine, to support [President of Ukraine, Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s peace plan and to make proposals in order to look for accountability – what kind of tribunal [can be used]. I, personally – and many Member States – will support the idea of an internationalised tribunal. We have to look for a solution that comes quickly. We need a solution [that is] practically implementable and ready-to-use.

China will be the big issue today. The [Foreign Affairs] Ministers have received a paper written by the High Representative’s services to define a position of the European Union towards China.

This is foreign policy, and foreign policy is a matter of the [European] Council. We will prepare the discussions of the leaders at the European Council at the end of June.

In this paper, we recalibrate our position towards China from the three points of view.

[First], China being a partner: it is a partner. We exchange with China €2.7 billion a day – so forget about decoupling.

[Second], China is a competitor, certainly – [with] its economic growth, its technological capacity. It is a competitor. We have other competitors, not only China but China is an important competitor, not only a supplier of cheap goods.

And third, our systems – our political and economic systems – are different, completely different. We are multi-party democracies, they are a single party. We are market economies, the Chinese economy is being driven by the State, so we are very different.

And in the world, we are rivals, because we present our models to the rest of the world.

But we have to engage with China. I think the key words are ‘engaging’ and ‘reducing dependencies’. Engaging and competing. Both things. The word ‘engaging’ has a lot of meanings.

It is impossible to try to solve the most important global challenges without a strong engagement with China. China is burning more coal than the rest of the world together. So, forget about solving the climate change without a strong engagement with China.

This is going to be the discussion with the Member States. The paper is a very calibrated in order to put in evidence the fact that we need more unity.

Europe has to be more united. If we want to be relevant on the emergence of China as a great power, the European Member States have to be more united and act in accordance with a common policy – and it is the task of the Foreign Affairs Ministers to build it.

Q&A

Q: What about Taiwan in this issue?

Taiwan is part of the strategic challenges that we have with China. With China, we have a problem of values – as I said before -, [with] different systems, different approaches to human rights. We have a problem of economic competition and economic security. And we have an issue of strategic security.

On strategic security, there are two main issues: Taiwan and the war of Russia against Ukraine. On Taiwan, we are at the same place that we have been always. Taiwan matters. We are following [the One] China Policy, and we want the de-escalation in the zone. What happens in Taiwan matters a lot to us.

Q: How could you combine this with China?

Well, this is what diplomacy does. The first thing to say is that we cannot have a normal relation with China if China does not use the strong influence that China has on Russia in order to stop this war.

The attitude of China towards the war in Ukraine is the second strategic security issue that we will discuss today.

Q: Are you afraid of China’s reaction regarding what was announced on sanctions for Chinese firms circumventing the EU sanctions?

There is no decision taken. The Treaty does not talk about sanctions, it talks about restrictive measures. These are proposals for restrictive measures on the triangle trade between Europe, China and Russia.

There is no decision taken yet. [We have] not even started the discussion. The Member States will have to discuss that in the following days, and finally the Council will adopt a decision.

Q: Regarding the situation in Israel and Palestine, there have been statements from your side. Have there been any attempts by the European Union to actually intervene, to facilitate a ceasefire, or have you been only supporting Egyptian attempts or the Arab Ministers’ attempts?

We are ready to do whatever [is] necessary and useful. I have been talking with my Egyptian colleagues and Emiratis. We are not launching a European initiative, there are already enough initiatives. What we have to do is to support the ones who are in the lead. The ones who are in the lead are the [Arab League] and the Arab countries.

Q: High Representative, a question on South Africa and the reports that they might be delivering weapons to Russia. How concerning is that? Does it mean that the European outreach to emerging economies is not working?

Certainly, it needs more engagement. One of the things that we have to discuss is how we [can] reach out more and better with edging countries: countries who voted at the United Nations against the [Russia] invasion [of Ukraine] but afterwards, they are not as strong as we would like [them] to be against the invasion. And there are countries who do not condemn the invasion in the United Nations.

So, yes, we have to engage more with people who are not exactly on the same position as us, and this is part of the paper.

About South Africa, I only have press news.

Q: The Turkish opposition is complaining about Russian interference in the elections. Are you concerned as well?

Well, the European Parliament has been voting about it. There is a resolution of the European Parliament that talks a lot about Russian interferences in elections, even in the country I know best. So, yes, certainly, it is a matter of concern.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-241125

Source – EEAS

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