Borrell on his trip to Russia: “The Navalni situation demanded a firm and energetic presence”

Josep Borrell, defends himself before an audience of angry MEPs who criticize that he should not have gone to Moscow. Despite the reproaches, the high representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union has defended his decision to meet with the Russian Foreign Minister, whose executive he has described as “autocracy”. Borrell has explained that he will present concrete proposals to the EU foreign ministers to impose new sanctions on the Kremlin.

“Regardless of all the errors, shortcomings and” buts “that can be found, I think that if we really consider that human rights and public freedoms are at the center of our political project, the situation of Navalni and the Russian opposition demanded a firm and energetic presence “declared Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union.

A “not very successful” trip

For many MEPs their meeting was humiliating. Because while Borrell was attempting a peaceful rapprochement, his Russian counterpart refused to talk about Navalni, called the EU an “unreliable partner”, and expelled three European diplomats.

Read: MEPs demand Borrell’s resignation for “humiliating” visit to Russia

Several MEPs from different political groups doubt their authority to represent the EU at a time when it seeks to be a powerful player in a changing geopolitical scenario.

“We are not talking about the errand boy, but the High Representative. He has a duty to secure a position of the European Union in the Council representing the Member States. If he is not able to secure that position, then he should not go. It is difficult to see how he can continue to represent the European Union with an authority and credibility that have been seriously damaged, “he said. Sophie Int’Veld, the Dutch MEP, Renovar Europa Group.

“A good decision has not been taken because he fell into a trap set by the Kremlin. While preparing this trip, the European Parliament sent him many messages recommending that it was not a good time to go”Said Sandra Kalniete, Latvian MEP, vice-president of the EPP.

However, for other politicians, the EU is learning to be more proactive and must not allow Russia to use Borrell to divide it. “These criticisms within the European Union only help the Russian government. This is exactly what Putin wants to see, a European Union disunited in its actions towards Russia.”, said Ignacio Sánchez Amor, a Spanish socialist MEP.

The Commission and the Council of the European Union do not turn their backs on Borrell and consider that EU-Russia relations will be discussed at the next leaders’ summit in March.