HIGH REPRESENTATIVE BORRELL: Good morning. Good morning. I’m very happy to welcome you, Secretary Blinken, in Brussels. We just had a very good bilateral meeting marking our great transatlantic cooperation. Now we will co-chair the EU-U.S. Energy Council, and later we will see each other also at the NATO Ministerial.
Allow me some words about our bilateral discussion. Certainly, we start discussing and talking about the Russian war in Ukraine, the situation in Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, and the Middle East peace process.
It’s more than one year ago that Putin start destroying Ukraine, and he seems determined to continue with his brutal bloodshed and destruction, and he still escalates further despite not achieving anything. His newest nuclear gamble – with nuclear weapons moved to Belarus – constitutes a new escalation and poses a direct threat to European security. And this comes, ironically, after Chinese President Xi visited Moscow and mentioned the need for peace and they agreed on the need to not deploy nuclear arms abroad. Some days later, Russia deployed tactical weapons – nuclear tactical weapons in Belarus.
We have been discussing with Secretary Blinken about the role of China on supporting Russia’s blatant violations of the United Nations Charter. There is a clear expectation from a permanent member of the Security Council to stand up in defense of international rules-based order. And China has a moral duty to contribute to a fair peace. They cannot be siding with the aggressor. They cannot be militarily supporting the aggression.
This is our message to China, from today’s meeting and from all the European Union’s visits going to Beijing. Today, President von der Leyen will be in Beijing with French President Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez was there last week, and I will travel next week too. So, as you see, a lot of Europeans going to China.
But we have been clear with China that its position on Russia’s atrocities and war crimes will determine the quality of our relations with Beijing. In the meantime, the European Union stands united and our transatlantic community remains also united. We are committed to continue supporting Ukraine in its self-defense, and we will maintain the collective pressure on Russia to stop the widespread violations of international law. We are doing everything we can militarily, politically, and providing financial support to ensure that Ukraine prevails.
We also talked about the Middle East, and we shared our concerns about the vicious cycle of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories. The latest developments painfully demonstrate that the path towards a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is urgently needed. I appreciated the recent U.S. mediation efforts in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh, and I also shared with you, Secretary Blinken, about my efforts together with partners in the Arab world to try to revive peace efforts by building on the Arab Peace Initiative and adding European peace contribution to it.
We also discussed about some topics in Africa. First of all, on Ethiopia, this was a major crisis, and now, fortunately, things start to move towards solving it. That’s one of the rare good news that we have in the world. And to sustain the current progress, it is important that the EU and U.S. continue working hand-in-hand. The message to both the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayans is to make them understand that we are watching the settling of the conflict and will only normalize our relations in a gradual way, step by step.
On Central African Republic, we exchanged views on the ongoing international efforts, including our own efforts, to help to stabilize the country so they did not have to rely on the Wagner mercenaries. You know that the Wagner mercenaries, this destructive group, has had a negative impact on each country where they are present, be in Central African Republic and others in the Sahelian area, contributing only to further destabilization and impacting negatively in the entire region.
Finally, we are going to co-chair now the 10th EU-U.S. Energy Council, but this year is different from our previous meetings in Washington, and the past year has been marked by atrocities, war against Ukraine, and the unprecedented EU-U.S. coordination to support the country and to support our energy security in Europe. We, the European Union and its member-states, are the lead donors when it comes to energy assistance to Ukraine. We have been able to get rid of the Russian dependency on gas, and we will discuss today about how to accelerate the green energy transition, reducing methane emissions, and launching a new global energy efficiency initiative. That also is a good news.
Thank you. Thanks.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good morning, everyone. And let me just start by thanking the High Representative, my friend Josep, for another very productive and timely meeting, building on the momentum that President Biden and European Commission President von der Leyen produced at the White House just last month.
This discussion today reinforced what has been evident to us for some time: U.S.-European Union relations have never been stronger or more important for advancing our shared interests.
After more than a year of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the stakes for our partnership could not be higher – for the transatlantic relationship; for Ukraine itself; indeed, for people around the world who are bearing many of the consequences of this aggression.
The United States and the EU continue to work in lockstep, together with a broad coalition of partners around the world, to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself, its people, its territory, the right to choose its own path.
European partners have spent about $13 billion in European – in military assistance thus far, on top of tens of billions more in economic and humanitarian assistance, extraordinary support for refugees who have come from Ukraine. We very much appreciate the announcement from the EU that it will be providing an additional 2 billion in euros worth of ammunition through its European Peace Facility.
Together, we’re freezing the assets of those fueling the Kremlin’s aggression, deploying sweeping sanctions and export controls that are degrading Russia’s capacity to wage war. The Kremlin’s finances have been squeezed to devastating effect, forcing it to choose between pouring money into the war or providing for its own citizens. As one Russian billionaire starkly said of Russia’s future: “There will be no money next year.”
The United States and the European Union are further working together to defend the energy and food security of millions of people around the world who have been affected by President Putin’s war in Ukraine, to press for accountability for Russian atrocities, and to support meaningful diplomatic efforts that can achieve a just and durable peace.
Josep and I also discussed the United States and Europe’s unprecedented cooperation on energy security, and indeed, we’ll take that up in more detail in a few minutes. We share a commitment to preventing a climate catastrophe, accelerating the global clean energy transition, building resilient, secure, and diversified supply chains for renewable energy – and doing it in a way that creates good-paying jobs and lowers costs for people on both sides of the Atlantic.
Russia’s weaponization of energy has underscored the urgency of that task – and an opportunity to accelerate our progress. And so, over the past year, the United States and Europe have thrown our energy security cooperation into even higher gear.
In 2022, the United States exported 56 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas to Europe: that is 40 percent of Europe’s total imports; it’s a 140 percent increase over our LNG exports to Europe the previous year. The European Union cut dependence on Russian gas from nearly 40 percent at the start of the war to about 15 percent by the end of 2022. That is extraordinary. When we convene the council in a few minutes, we will focus on how we can further reduce European dependence on Russian energy, and boost the Euro-Atlantic region’s clean energy production.
We also spoke about our continued partnership on economic security. We have serious concerns about the challenges posed by economic coercion, by the weaponization of economic dependencies, and non-market policies and practices, including by the PRC, and we discussed ways to address these issues. Later this spring, we’ll hold another meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, where these and other priorities will be on the agenda.
As Josep mentioned, we also did something of a tour of the world of challenging places and areas where our work together, our coordination, our cooperation can make a difference, from Ethiopia to the Central African Republic to the Middle East. And in all of these areas, the coordination between the United States and the European Union is as great and, indeed, I would say greater than it’s ever been.
Finally, running through our conversation was our focus on revitalizing our democracies and our democratic values – which bind us, and which brought hundreds of partners together just this week around the world and in Washington for the Summit for Democracy.
The relationship between the United States and the European Union is the most comprehensive, dynamic relationship in the world, and I’m pleased to be here to continue our work to deliver a stronger and more secure future for people on both sides of the Atlantic.
Thank you very much.
Source – U.S. Department of State