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United Nations: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell after his address to the UN Security Council

European Union High Representative, Josep Borrell

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European Union High Representative, Josep Borrell

NEW YORK. — Thank you, and good afternoon. It is a great pleasure for me to be here, at the United Nations, representing the European Union and participating in the meeting of the [United Nations] Security Council to talk about the cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations. 

But I have been talking about something more than that. I started by saying that we live in a very complex, difficult and challenging world. But without the United Nations, the world will be still more challenging and more dangerous.  

The United Nations is a light in the darkness. The world is becoming darker and darker, but without the United Nations, things would be much worse. 

I wanted to stress the importance of the United Nations as a landmark in the middle of the turmoil. 

I expressed my strong support to the United Nations system and, in particular, to the Secretary-General [of the United Nations, António Guterres]. In particular to him, defending him from the unjustified attacks that he has been suffering. 

At the beginning of my speech, I focused specifically on two main problems of the world today. Both are a defining moment for the United Nations, for the respect of the values and principles of the United Nations: Ukraine and Gaza. 

In Ukraine, the Russian aggression continues with great brutality. 

I think there is no way for the Ukrainians to surrender, to raise a white flag. It is not the moment for the Ukrainians [to do this]. They have to continue resisting the invader, and we have to continue supporting them in order to make them [to be able] resist.  

I have been in Ukraine. Their cities are being bombed by Russian missiles and their culture and identity, are being threatened by annihilation. Because Russia denies Ukraine the right to exist. 

Once again, this attack is a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter, and it was quite comical that today, the Russian Ambassador [to the United Nations] accused the European Union to be an aggressive power. 

Are we an aggressive power? This is being said by Russia who has been launching the greatest aggression of this century against a neighbour?

Well, I appealed for the European Union membership for Ukraine, which will be the strongest security commitment that we can offer to Ukraine.  

I insisted that we are not against the Russian people. We are not against Russia – the Russian nation and state. We are just against an authoritarian regime who has invaded its neighbour, violating the United Nations Charter. 

The second issue is Gaza. The situation in Gaza is unbearable.  The very survival of the Palestinian population is at stake. There is a wide-scale destruction. Everything that makes a society is being destroyed, systematically: from cemeteries, to universities, to civil register, to the property register. A wide-scale destruction, looming starvation of hundreds of thousands of people, famine, and acute lack of healthcare and humanitarian assistance.  

What we know is that scores of kids [are] traumatised, orphaned and without shelter.  

At the same time, we have to remind that there are still more than 100 Israeli hostages held by terrorists. 

This situation has to be alleviated, and for that, we have to increase humanitarian aid. But keeping in mind that this humanitarian crisis is not being caused by a natural disaster. It is not a flood. It is not an earthquake. It is not something caused by the nature. It is a man-made humanitarian disaster. 

Yes, we have to support the people in need. We are quadrupling our humanitarian assistance [since 7 October.] We have to mobilise the international community. But it is urgent that the Israeli authorities stop impeding humanitarian access. [Delivering aid] from parachutes and from the sea is better than nothing, but this is not an alternative. 

We cannot substitute hundreds of tons and hundreds of trucks coming by road with an airborne operation. It is better than nothing, but it does not prevent us from showing and pointing [to] what is the real problem. And the real problem is that there is not enough access, by the normal access way which is by road. 

We are launching parachutes in a place when one hour by car, there is an airfield. So what? Why not use the airfield? Why not open the door to the cars, to the trucks? 

This is the problem today, but we have to look at the root causes of the problem, and to look [at] how to reach a lasting peace in the Middle East. 

The only way to do that – from the European Union’s point of view – is a two-state solution.  

I encourage the United Nations Security Council to take action. I encourage the Security Council to draft a new resolution, explicitly endorsing the two-state solution as “the” solution and defining the general principles that this could be made a reality.    

For us Europeans, the values of the United Nations remain at the cornerstone of the international system. 

The European Union backs financially the United Nations. We are the largest financial contributor. We finance almost one third of the United Nations’ regular budget. One third is coming from the Member States and the European Union. We fund [almost] one quarter of all United Nations agencies, including UNRWA. We fund [almost] one quarter of all programmes of the United Nations around the world. 

And at the same time, we have [over] 20 military and civilian missions and operations around the world. I explained to the members of the Security Council. Around the globe, there are 4.300 Europeans working for peace in 25 military and civilian missions [and operations]. Working in post-conflict situations, training national security forces, contributing to the overall stability in various regions. In Africa – I mentioned [them] one after the other -, in the Sea – the last one in the Red Sea (EUNAVFOR Operation Aspides)-, in the Mediterranean, in several places in Africa. Around the world, there are Europeans working to try to make peace a reality. 

We have also to focus on conflict prevention. It is clear that it would be much better to prevent the conflicts than to come quickly when the conflict has erupted. 

Do not forget about the “forgotten” conflicts. Do not forget about Afghanistan where there is a gender apartheid. Do not forget about what is happening in the Horn of Africa, in Sudan, in Somalia. Around the world, there are so many crises that we have to increase our capacity to prevent and to try to solve them. 

We want to be a security provider, working for sustainable development and supporting the United Nations. Because we need this House more than ever. And I want to pay tribute to everybody working in the United Nations system, especially the ones who have lost their lives trying to support people, in particular in Gaza. 

Thank you. 

Q&A 

Q. You have just said you want peace. What is the European union doing, or can it do, to try and promote and promote a ceasefire of even six weeks in Gaza to let humanitarian aid in and have hostages and prisoners exchanged? What is the EU’s reaction to the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Haiti and the prospect of a Presidential Transitional Council? 

Well, Haiti is one of the chronic crises that has been looming for years. This has not happened overnight. The international community has been taking too long to intervene in Haiti. Now, with this mission which is waiting to deploy their capacities on the ground, there is a possibility of trying to restore a minimum of stability in order to deploy humanitarian support. I know that this will require a lot of efforts. The only thing I can say is that we support this mission. We support the deployment of these forces. We believe that the international community has to engage in order to make the Haitian people get out of the black whole where they are. Alone, they will not succeed, that is clear. It needs a strong engagement of the international community, and I want to highlight the efforts done by the United States, Canada, and [by] the Kenyan people to engage their troops, their police, in this endeavour. 

What are we doing? Look, here at the Security Council. What are the Europeans doing? You have France, you have Slovenia, you have Malta [who are] members of the Security Council supporting a resolution which could make a difference. Pushing in order to try to make everybody agree on what is needed, which is a long-term cessation of hostilities and at the same time, the freedom of hostages. You know that there are different sensitivities among Member States of the European Union, but what unites us is the fact that hostages have to be released as a condition in order to make the hostilities to stop and to look for a political solution. And that is what the members of the Security Council belonging to the European Union are doing.  

Q. Besides the position of the Security Council taken by some of the European nations you just mentioned, is there any other leverage that the European Union can exercise to put a stop to what is happening in Gaza? Where are the actual actions? Where are the measures taken by the EU? We have not seen anything yet, besides what you just described. Is there really nothing else? We also know that some European countries are actually enabling what is happening in Gaza by sending weapons, like Germany for example. So, how do you reconcile that and what are actual measures that the EU can take? 

As I said, I am representing the European Union as a whole. Sometimes, it is difficult because there are different sensitivities and different positions. There are some Member States, who are completely reluctant to take any position that could represent the slightest criticism towards Israel, and others who are very much pushing in order to get a ceasefire. Two Member States – Ireland and Spain – have requested the European Commission and myself, as High Representative, to study how and if the Israeli government’s behaviour is in agreement, how it fits with the obligations according to the Association agreement that we have with Israel. And next Monday, at the Foreign Affairs Council, we will have an orientation debate about this important issue. 

Q. On the maritime corridor for Gaza, could you just explain to us a little how you see it working and will you roll in it. We know there is a first ship that has left Larnaka, but where is it going to dock? 

Well, this is the ship of the Spanish … This is a ship of the World Kitchen, it is not an EU ship. I don’t want to take the merits of others, no?  This is a ship that was put on board by these individuals who have an extraordinary merit because with their own resources, they are collecting food and trying to send it by ship. And as I said, look, they can go by ship – better than nothing. But the coast in Gaza is not easy because there is no harbour. The United States wants to build a kind of provisional harbour in order to make the boats ready to approach the coast. I know that this is going on. This is going on, but this is a ship that has been provided by an individual initiative. I want to give them all the merit. And at the same time, the European Commission and the European Union, [gave] their support to this initiative [of maritime corridor]. We are doing a lot from the point of view of humanitarian support. We are doing a lot. But keep in mind that before the war, every day 500 trucks were coming into Gaza and now there is – in the best cases – less than 100. Just imagine living in a village and suddenly, the number of supplies is being divided by five or by ten, and in addition to that, the distribution of the supply is being very difficult because there are military actions every day. So, we have to put all of our initiatives on maritime, on airborne capacities, but we shouldn’t forget the root causes of the problem. The root cause of the problem is that by the normal way of entering into Gaza, there are obstacles that have to be lifted. 

Q. So, you are saying you support the maritime corridor, but are you involved in executing it in any way then? Does the European Union have a role? 

Yes, we have a role. The President of the [European] Commission [Ursula von der Leyen] went to Cyprus, to express the support and the engagement of the European Union with that. But keep in mind who is doing what.  

Thank you.  

 Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-254356 

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