“We have to remain clear-eyed and firm in our response” – blog by Josep Borrell on countering power politics in the East
December 21, 2021

“We have to remain clear-eyed and firm in our response” – blog by Josep Borrell on countering power politics in the East


The crises in and around Ukraine and Belarus are at the top of the international agenda, writes EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, in his blog published on 20 December. According to Borrell, who summarised the political results of 2021, both cases present “good examples of a new paradigm, in which hybrid threats and power politics are destabilising our neighbourhood and beyond”.

Referring to the results of the recent Foreign Affairs Council, the European Parliament debates and the European Council summit, Borrell defines their main decisions.

On Ukraine, Borrell says, everyone agreed that it is a moment to be firm and united and to deter possible further Russian moves. He added that the European Council also agreed on sending a strong message to the Russian leadership that any action against Ukraine and those principles, by military or hybrid means, would have serious consequences. 

Russia’s ultimate intentions are not clear, except that it seeks to threaten and weaken Ukraine. Different scenarios can unfold. As I said in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, we have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” writes Borrell.

In Belarus, according to Borrell, the acute phase of the crisis at the border with the EU is receding. However, the dispute with Belarus is not limited to its blatant manipulative use of migrants. Far from it. At the root lies the brutally repressive and illegitimate nature of the Lukashenko regime, where more than 900 political prisoners languish in jail,” says Borrell.

Borrell reminded that the EU has recently announced a fifth round of sanctions that “targets those involved with the organisation of the cynical trafficking of migrants but also those behind the constant repression, the so-called Lukashenka ‘wallets’.

The High Representative also highlights the results of the Eastern Partnership Summit that took place on 15 December and adopted its regional Economic and Investment Plan of €2.3 billion that could leverage up to €17 billion in investments. Borrell says that “the discussion … confirmed that our Eastern partners have a strong demand for more cooperation and integration with the EU, and the EU is prepared to respond to this demand in a way that reaffirms its role as a significant geopolitical actor in the region”.

The EU top official writes that “it was also striking that for the first time the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan, two countries that have been in open, military conflict over Nagorno Karabakh, exchanged constructive comments at the Eastern Partnership summit, instead of open confrontation”. According to Borrell, this was possible thanks to mediation efforts facilitated by President Michel, that showed the EU’s readiness to play a stronger role in the conflict resolution efforts in the South Caucasus.

Summing up, Borrell writes that the open displays of power politics in the East, but also elsewhere, are a fundamental challenge for Europe. “We have to remain clear-eyed and firm in our response – and equip ourselves with the means to act,” says Borrell. 

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