Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Press remarks by Borrell at G7 Meeting in Capri

Thu 18 Apr 2024 | 12:44 PM
EU High Representative Josep Borrell

It is a very nice place – un sitio muy bonito, pero el mundo no es así. It is a very nice place but unhappily the world is not like this.

Unhappily, there are two wars, at least – no, many, more than two. We have the war in the Middle East, we have the war in Ukraine, we have an awful war in Sudan, the war continues in Ethiopia. Many places around the world are in the middle of a very dire situation.

And here we are, the G7 Foreign Ministers, plus the European Council yesterday, plus the Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers “Jumbo” meeting – Defence and Foreign Affairs [Ministers] both together - in Luxembourg, on Monday.

The purpose of all these meetings is the same: to take stock of the dire situation in which we are, they are – the Ukrainians and the people in Gaza, and Israel facing the Iranian attack. The dire situation of a world, where more and more the use of force to solve problems, is the rule.

More and more, inequalities are growing, and the threats and challenges are increasing.

So we, Europeans, in Brussels or in Luxembourg, and here [in Capri], the Western countries – Japan, Canada, United States, plus Europe – have to take quicker decisions in order to support Ukraine more. Because we cannot afford Putin’s victory in Ukraine. And Ukrainians are fighting, but they need arms. They need arms and we have to provide them much quicker.

That is the call I made to the [EU] Ministers of Defence. In the following days, concrete decisions have to be taken in order to send to Ukraine more air defence. Otherwise, the electricity system in Ukraine will be destroyed. And no country can fight without having electricity – at home, in the factories, on the frontline, for everything.

And, the situation in the Middle East: we should not lose focus on what is happening in Gaza. In Gaza, the humanitarian catastrophe continues. The humanitarian support has increased very little. It has increased, but very, very insufficiently.

We have to ask Israel for a restrained answer to the Iranians’ attack. We cannot escalate. We cannot go step by step, answering every time higher to a regional war. I do not want to exaggerate, but we are on the edge of a regional war in the Middle East, which will be sending shockwaves to the rest of the world, and in particular to Europe.

So, stop it. Take care of the Gazan people. Ceasefire. Humanitarian support. Freedom of hostages. This is the call that the leaders from the European Union launched yesterday. This is the purpose of this broader meeting, putting together “the Global West”.

Thank you.


Q: Mr Borrell, do you expect that the United States will provide Ukraine more Patriot systems?

They have, but not only the United States. We cannot only rely on the United States. We have to take our responsibility and stop saying: “Oh, yes, the United States will do [it]”. We have to do [it]. We have Patriots, we have anti-missiles systems. We have to take them from our barracks, where they are “just in case,” and send [them] to Ukraine where the war is raging. I am sure we will be doing that, but it has to be done quickly.

Q: Mr Borrell, the $60 billion in aid does not get through the US Congress. Do you really think you do have enough to help Ukraine, or you are going to have to start thinking of negotiated solutions?

Well, nothing will be enough, but everything is needed, so that is better than nothing. And I certainly have to regret that internal politics in the United States has been delaying the support to Ukraine. I was in Washington, and I said: “Look, what is happening in Europe is something that matters for you. It matters for everybody.” So, this a first step – [it is] welcome. [It is] not enough but I do not want to say what the United States are not doing. I am not in charge of the US policy. I am in charge of the European Union’s policy.

Q: And what about the de-escalation between Iran and Israel. Israel seems determined to do something, what are the G7 leaders going to do?

You know that there is the “loudspeaker diplomacy” and then, there is the “real diplomacy” that goes without saying. This is the important thing: to pass the message clearly - maybe not loudly – but clearly, that we have to avoid escalation. If there is another step on the ladder, nobody wants a war but at the end, there is war.

Q: Mr Borrell, speaking about Ukraine support, what is your take on the Peace Conference in Switzerland in June? What do you expect of it seeing that Russia is not taking part?

The only plan in town is [President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s [Peace] Plan. There is no other one. At the beginning, many plans were blooming – the Chinese [one], the Brazilian [one], the Latin American [one], the African [one]. All of them have disappeared, the only one which has been keeping the momentum, being discussed by the international community, is the Plan presented by Zelenskyy. And the international community has to show how we see the end of this war. Certainly, later, there will have to be discussions with Russia which is the aggressor – do not forget about it. Do not forget about it: there is an aggressor and an aggressed. The aggressed is trying to defend itself. The international community has to say how do we see the end of this war.

Q: If you think of the Middle East, there is the possibility that there is a greenlight for an Israeli operation in Rafah in exchange for de-escalation towards Iran. What kind of scenario does it open, especially from the humanitarian point of view?

Well, if there is an attack on Rafah, with 1.7 million people amassed in the streets, then it will be a real humanitarian catastrophe. So, the call on Israel has been very clear from the President [of the United States, Joe] Biden himself, from all European leaders: Do not attack Rafah. There are 1.7 million people in the streets without any kind of possibility of defending themselves, [of] escaping. So, do not attack Rafah. For the time being, this has happened, so we have to continue the pressure.

Q: Speaking about the solution [...], we do not find a solution [...] in Gaza. We do not find a solution at all, what do you think about it?

You are right – ha ragione. L’epicentro del dramma è ancora a Gaza e nella West Bank. È ancora là, ora non dobbiamo dimenticare; l’attenzione deve restare ancora prendere la sulla situazione, sulla guerra in Gaza, e sulla situazione nel West Bank, dove la violenza aumenta. Mi aspetto che l’Unione Europea adotterá some sanctions, against some violent settlers who have been attacking the Palestinians in the West Bank. We have to support Israel strongly to defend it from the Iranian attacks, and we have proved that we are defending Israel. Because the missiles and the drones launched by Iranians have been shot down thanks also to the military capacities of the United States, France and the United Kingdom. So, we have the proof that these are not just words. We are defending Israel and Israel has to be defending [itself] from many attacks.

But at the same time, we have to keep in mind that the problem between Israel and Palestine has to be solved taking into account the rights of the Palestinian people too, which has been recognised tens of times by the United Nations resolutions – tens of times. So, when we say that we support the international law, this is also part of the international law.

Q: Regarding the sanctions against Iran, what kind of sanctions? Because so far, the sanctions have not been efficient against Iran. There have been sanctions for years now. What do you think efficient sanctions against Iran could be?

We have a system in order to forbid the export of the components to produce drones and missiles to Iran. This regime exists since July 2023. Well, we will have to review the system in order to enlarge it and to make it more efficient.

But since July 2023, there is a limitation for all European firms to export to Iran the components that allow the production of this kind of arms. So, we will increase it, but it already exists.

Many times, the important thing is the implementation of a decision. We take a decision, and we believe that [after] taking the decision, the reality will follow. Well, most of the time the reality is quite disturbing. So, we have to review the system, maybe enlarge it.

There is another sanctions regime for Iran for supplying drones to Russia. Well, this regime can be extended to the supply of drones, not only to Russia to fight against Ukraine but to the proxies of Iran who are sending missiles in the Red Sea, who are sending missiles from Syria, from Iraq, from Lebanon. This is the geographical dimension and - let’s say - the industrial dimension of our restrictive measures.

The word “sanctions” does not exist in the treaties. You use it because it is shorter, but what we take is “restrictive measures”. We restrict export of goods, we restrict the supply of arms to Russia and to the proxies of Iran, who are part of the destabilisation process in the Middle East.

Let’s go to see if we can make today a good work and push to support Ukraine quicker and better. Because the situation in Ukraine is, at the moment, dire. The Ukrainians are fighting, but in order to continue defending themselves, they need arms - and we have to supply them. Otherwise, we cannot expect that they could resist. Minister [Dmytro] Kuleba is here, the Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs is here, and he will explain us what is the situation. In particular, on the attacks against the civilians and the electricity system.

It is clear that Putin wants a complete blackout in Ukraine. They want them to be in the darkness, in the cold, with the factories [that have] to stop - and this cannot happen. The only way of preventing this from happening is to provide Ukraine with more efficient and strong air defence capacity.

Q: They need six Patriots more. Are you confident that the European Union will get it today?

I hope that today – well, here we are not going to take concrete decisions - but in Luxembourg, the Ministers of Defence and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, all together have to come out of this meeting with concrete engagements. Link to the video: