The EU must maintain sanctions against Russia “until its behavior changes.” Such a statement in Strasbourg at a hearing in the European Parliament was made by the future head of European diplomacy, acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell.
In his speech, the 72-year-old successor to Federica Mogherini, who is leaving the stage, outlined several foreign policy priorities that he intends to adhere to if he is elected EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Among them: reloading relations with the United States, supporting the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, as well as maintaining sanctions pressure on Russia.
At the same time, Borrell expects that the restrictive measures against our country under no circumstances will be prematurely lifted. And counts on European unity in this matter.
– I hope that there will be unity in the EU Council to maintain sanctions. It is necessary to maintain sanctions against the Russian Federation until changes in its behavior take place, – he said.
But, apparently, nevertheless doubting that there were no contradictions among the members of the European fraternity, the potential chief of EU diplomacy proposed in the future to make decisions on sanctions (as well as on human rights issues and peacekeeping missions) not unanimously, but by majority.
The country under the current government will not come back to normal for a long time, despite optimistic forecasts by the Ministry of Economic Development.
Now any state out of twenty-eight members of the European Union can vote against the extension of sanctions. And then they will automatically stop their action. Borrel, for such decisions to be taken by a qualified majority — two-thirds or three-quarters.
That is, in fact, he proposes to abolish the right of veto on the adoption of important foreign policy decisions, which – albeit formal, – but now each of the countries of the European Union possesses.
How can this contribute to unity, a separate question … And it is more likely to relate to Europe.
But Borrell, most likely, will be approved by the end of the month as head of the Foreign Ministry of a united Europe. This means that the foreign policy of the EU, including in the Russian direction, will be in the hands of a pathological Russophobe, who considers our country as a hostile state, for a five-year perspective. It is enough to recall his May interview with the Spanish publication El Periodico, where he directly calls Russia “the old enemy of Europe.”
What, then, should we expect from such “diplomacy”?
- Borrell’s rhetoric is not new, – commented Nikita Danyuk, deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts at RUDN University, commenting on the situation.
- We have already heard similar statements, if I’m not mistaken, from Ursula von der Leyen (new head of the European Commission), who proposed creating an analogue of the EU Security Council, within which the most important, strategic decisions will be made by qualified majority. Although she herself, in general, is not the main initiator of this kind of reform, because Angela Merkel herself spoke about this many times before. Including, on the issue of sanctions against Russia.
- That is, the same Merkel is very concerned that quite a lot of countries inside the EU periodically speak out for cancellation, for revising the sanctions policy. And among them are quite influential countries – Austria, Italy, Finland, Hungary … and then a whole list.
- Therefore, in these conditions, when the European Union itself is experiencing a certain existential crisis, a crisis of ideas, European integration, as we see, has become very braked. Against the background of Britain’s exit from the EU, many generally begin to talk again about the reconstruction of the idea of Europe of nations. That is, Europe’s homeland, where every European country does not delegate almost all the powers (conditionally) to Brussels. And it builds independently the contours of its foreign and domestic policies.
Clearly, it is very important to stop this process. To develop a common position on the most important issues that Europeans are disconnecting. And the topic of Russia is precisely that “red line” that theoretically can lead Europe to the beginning of such a process of destruction.
So it is not surprising that the future head of European foreign policy is trying to carry out this kind of initiative. And make this mechanism official.
- Do you think he will succeed?
- Not sure. Because in order to do this, in general, you also need complete unanimity. It is necessary that all 28 states, including those that oppose the continuation of the sanctions policy, vote for this procedure.
- Therefore, it is still difficult to say whether Borrell’s initiative will be implemented and made official.
- Another thing is that this kind of rhetoric, it really says that inside the EU there is no longer this so-called European solidarity of the notorious, on the basis of which many “sharp corners” in the EU have been smoothed over decades.
And it is clear that this kind of voluntaristic and rather controversial decision suggests that the EU itself (conditionally, the same Brussels bureaucracy that sits there) is very afraid for its future.
Because in many countries of Europe new political forces are already coming to power – right-wing, left-wing, populists, conservatives and even a bit radical, such as, for example, “Alternative for Germany.”
Naturally, in such a situation, it is necessary to hold the reins of power in Europe in a strong hand so that these contradictions do not produce. So that, say, Italy or Hungary, which are interested in lifting sanctions and in restoring full-format cooperation with Russia, have their vote. It would be taken into account. But the vast majority would be against it.
Here, in order to enable this mechanism, such initiatives are voiced.
– The question is, how do we build relations with Europe if a person like Borrell determines its foreign policy?
– Objectively, Borrel, who, while still being the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, declared that our country is an enemy, is also a member of this old Brussels bureaucracy. Therefore, he wants – and will – not defend the interests of people in Europe (in the same Spain, which, as we see, is tormented by internal contradictions), but the interests of the political class.
In this case, it seems to me that such an appointment will lead the EU to an even greater crisis. Because, in the face of contradictions, as we know, the political class usually “tightens the screws.”
And I recall the old rule – “the worse, the better.”
Hence it can be assumed that the head of European foreign policy will be a person who, as we see, is not aimed at constructive cooperation, at interacting with the real center of power in the world in the person of our country, and is not interested in the voice of many people and political forces against Russia was heard. But this will ultimately lead to even more degradation of the EU and an even greater weakening of its position.
– So, there were no other candidates for this position?
– I do not exclude that the stake on Borrel was made in the context of the fact that Europe still very much hopes that not Donald Trump, but someone from the Democrats will win the US presidential election in 2020. And this may be, in fact, a fatal mistake of Brussels. And the very “reset” of relations with the United States, which Borrel himself speaks of, will result in complete collapse.
In such circumstances, it seems to me, the entire political class of present-day Europe, all this “old guard” (including Merkel and Macron) can very much discredit themselves and become, as a result, complete political bankruptcies.
In general, I have the feeling that Europe is going all-in. She can no longer, as we see, count on the loyalty of the United States. But at the same time, it is extremely important for her to maintain the image of the enemy in the person of Russia in order to smooth out internal contradictions. And to remove all kinds of crises in the social sphere, in the economic, as well as failures in foreign policy, writing them off to Russia. On a country that is allegedly trying to tear apart European unity, destroy democratic institutions … etc.
But this is nothing more than, it seems to me, agony, probably, which suggests that the current political leadership of Europe does not feel confident. It does not feel the support of the people and does not feel the support of influential external forces (primarily in the person of the United States), which was before.
In fact, before our very eyes, a real personnel mistake is being made, which in the future will lead to more serious consequences. Both in the internal policy of the EU, and in foreign.