Brussels 12.12.2022 “We have to rethink about how we work with Eastern partners, because three have become [EU accession] candidates, one is very far away from the European Union – Belarus. So, it is a very heterogenous set of countries. A regional approach to them has to be taken into consideration but, certainly, it is becoming more and more difficult”, said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell upon the arrival to the EU Foreign minister Counicl.
“It is the first Ministerial meeting with Eastern partners since the beginning of the war in Ukraine so, certainly, we will talk a lot about it.
“And then, comes the [Foreign Affairs] Council. This Council is going to be very long and difficult because we have on the agenda Iran, we have on the agenda sanctions against Russia – the ninth package. We are still not there. We have not yet finished.
“You know, there is a certain confusion: when me [the High Representative] and the President of the [European] Commission announce the sanctions, we are just announcing proposals. I said [this] many times: it is the Council who decides. And the 27 Ministers [of Foreign Affairs of the European Union] have different approaches.
“So, since we made the announcement of the proposal – a proposal is not a decision – the proposal has been discussed and, I thought, this morning we were able to say “greenlighted”, it is still not the case. Maybe by the end of the day, but there are some questions to be still agreed [upon]. I hope we will end the day [with an agreement] – or maybe tomorrow – but I cannot say that it is going to be easy because there are different views among Member States.
[It is] important to make the distinction between proposal and decision: decisions belong to the Council.
“Iran, certainly Iran, second execution [in relation to protests]. On Friday evening, I had a long conversation with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran [Hossein Amir-Abdollahian]. You can imagine, certainly we talked about these executions. I expressed the concern of the European Union, the condemnation and the sanctions that are going to be taken today, both for humanitarian reasons and for the Iranian support to [Russia’s aggression against] Ukraine. Iran continues saying that they have not been delivering drones to Russia after the start of the war, and they do not plan to send rockets to Russia. Let’s see.
“Then, the last news also worrisome is Kosovo. We thought that things were calm after the agreement but, once again, the Kosovo-Serbs answered to the arrest of a former Kosovo-Serb policeman with a lot of troubles in the streets, blocking the roads, and even throwing stun grenades to some of our [EULEX] police officers. You can understand this is not acceptable.
“I know that the two parts are willing to de-escalate, and I am strongly calling on the two of them to do it. But, in this case, I was in touch with Prime Minister [of Kosovo, Albin] Kurti, [European Union Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue] Miroslav Lajčák was in touch with President [of Serbia, Aleksandar] Vučić in Serbia. This alteration of the public order, this violence are not affordable.
“They have to go back to the [EU-facilitated] Dialogue. They have to overcome this tendency of fighting in the street, of creating blockades. It is not the way of looking for an agreement. It is not the way to conduct the talks. It is not the way to look for solutions. It is not the way to look for the normalisation process in which they are engaged”.