Josep Borrell does not intend to resign despite the avalanche of criticism that has been directed at him in an appearance this afternoon in the European Parliament for the resounding failure of his trip to Moscow, although he has agreed to promote the idea of ”robust actions” against Russia which he did not define in detail. The High Representative of the European Union has appeared to give an account of his recent trip to Moscow, the imprisonment in the joint press conference, and the expulsion of diplomats that many MEPs have considered as a humiliation for the EU.
From the rostrum, Borrell said that the mission of his trip was to communicate the EU’s concern about the repression of dissident Alexei Navalny and to make clear the defense of democracy by the EU. He has also criticized the Russian regime, which – in his opinion – has assumed “a strong authoritarian drift” and “does not leave any space for a democratic opening for the rule of law.” Borrell accused the criticism of the MEPs but tried to defend himself by taking the argument towards the Russian regime, since, “listening to some of you, it seems that I was the one who expelled the European diplomats from Russia when it was Lavrov”, the Russian foreign minister.
Although he did not use the word dictatorship, to defend himself Borrell agreed to speak that the Kremlin has undertaken “a strong authoritarian drift” and “does not leave any space for a democratic opening”, which is good logic are facts that he could already know before to go to Moscow and they should have led him to be more cautious when scheduling this trip or even to suspend it. One of the most exotic interventions among MEPs was that of the fugitive from justice Carles Puigdemont, who assumed the thesis of the Russian regime when he compared the persecution against Navalny with the fact that in Spain independence leaders have been sentenced for serious crimes against the Constitution.
The former president of the Generalitat told Borrell that he should have corrected the Russian Foreign Minister because in Catalonia “there are nine political prisoners and not three as Lavrov said,” and asked him to “have a Borrellexit” because “the EU cannot go around the world recommending recipes that are not applied at home. In the turn of reply, Borrell referred to Puigdemont without naming him (both were in the room) and told the MEPs. I would have liked to go into a melee with Lavrov to deny his theses, such as Navalni’s comparison with that of an MEP who sits in this chamber and his colleagues who are currently campaigning for an election ”but“ it was not worth getting into a discussion ”.
In the last part of his defense, Borrell insisted that, despite everything, he understands that “there are issues on which it is necessary, inevitable, to cooperate with Russia.
But to cooperate, two are needed and the Russian power has decided to do it differently; we will have to look for other ways. We now know better what to expect from Russia. What must be done is to analyze in all European instances with intelligence and serenity, what our future steps may be to define our relationship with Russia. For now, the President of the Commission maintains her support for the High Representative, not least because the political mechanism of the Community executive is particularly complex. A commissioner cannot be fired if he does not want to resign and Parliament can only vote a motion of no confidence in the entire Commission.
In the case of the High Representative, moreover, it is a “double cap” post because he is Vice-President of the Commission but at the same time depends on the Council for his functioning, that is, the meeting of the Governments. In the unlikely event that Borrell resigned, so as not to affect all the complex political, geographical, and gender balances with which the positions in the Commission were distributed, another Spanish socialist should replace him, which greatly reduces the appetites for a change in this portfolio.
This is Borrell’s second serious setback in a short time because of his candid vision of diplomacy.
First, he determined to negotiate a fix for the December legislative elections with the Venezuelan dictatorship, which is intrinsically allergic to democracy and now it is much more serious when trying to establish bridges of cooperation with the Russian regime and at the same time take the opportunity to reproach the Kremlin the repression against dissidents and protesters. There is a basic problem in the idea that the High Representative of the defense of Human Rights has because he thinks that it is compatible with doing business with the executioners as if nothing had happened.
It is also true that in this falsely pragmatic vision he is accompanied by several governments. As he well said yesterday in the debate, in recent years there have been 19 visits to Moscow by representatives of some EU country and a majority of foreign ministers voted in favor of the trip, contrary to what the border countries they know thought. good to Russia. And, above all, the main support comes from Germany, which after abandoning nuclear energy has decided to depend on Russian gas despite everything.