EU sending a message of support to Ukraine - Foreign Minister

European Union – Statement to the press by Mme Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, on her arrival at the Foreign Affairs Council

Luxembourg, 20 June 2022

THE MINISTER – Good morning. I’m pleased to be in Luxembourg at the Foreign Affairs Council, which is being held a few days before the European Council of 23 and 24 June. We’ll be talking in particular about Ukraine here, because the heads of State and government will have a historic decision to take – historic for Ukraine, historic for Europe but also for the world view we uphold.

The Europeans have been united in the face of Russia’s aggression, and this unity is their strength, so as holder of the presidency we’ll be working to ensure the Europeans are united in sending Ukraine a clear and positive message regarding its application, and that’s possible thanks to the European Commission’s opinion, which was made public on Friday.

And also, nationally, we believe it’s right to immediately grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status. That’s France’s position, and it’s the position the French President expressed a few days ago, when he was in Kyiv. So candidate status immediately, accompanied by a road map of course. It’s a message of support to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, whom we must help in the long term by continuing our economic, political, humanitarian but also military support, and you’ve seen that France has stepped up the delivery of military equipment, so we’ll continue. It’s also, obviously, a message to Russia, which it must understand.

Beyond that, there are also food-security issues, as you’re well aware; we have to be clear. The food insecurity that threatens the world doesn’t come from sanctions, it comes solely from the war that has been chosen by Russia, and so we call on Russia to stop playing with world hunger. To do that, it’s enough for it to stop its blockade of Ukrainian ports and stop destroying Ukraine’s cereal infrastructure.

And the Egyptian Foreign Minister will also be attending part of this Council. Egypt has a key role to play, of course, in combating food insecurity, but also in the stability of the region – North Africa, the Middle East – and, in addition to that, a crucial role in the supply of hydrocarbons so that we’re less dependent on Russian hydrocarbons.

One last thing: we’ll also be having a session about Gulf-related issues, to signal the European Union’s re-engagement in support of the region’s stability, and also about the Horn of Africa, to give a number of guidelines about the EU’s action, in particular concerning Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. That’s the fairly packed schedule for today.

Q. – How willing is France to work with the UN on Russia, Ukraine and others to find these corridors and enable exports? Is France ready to participate in such efforts?

THE MINISTER – France resolutely supports the UN Secretary-General’s efforts. It’s up to the UN first of all – and you know it’s doing its utmost on this – to try and get the two parties, Russia and Ukraine, to agree, with Turkey playing a special role at the moment. But we’re willing to help, just as we think it would be useful – as President Macron said – at some point to have a Security Council resolution which could support any agreement reached, were this the case. At any rate, it’s an issue which must be resolved urgently. There are too many risks involved in leaving Ukrainian grain [shipments] blocked. It’s dangerous not just for the Middle East region but for global stability more generally. As I’ve said, Russia must stop playing with world hunger.

Q. – Why is candidate status so important, [inaudible]?

THE MINISTER – As you know, three countries applied. The Commission’s opinion is that Ukraine and Moldova, on the basis of the progress they’ve made, and accompanied by a future road map, can be recognized as candidates today. It’s also France’s position, and this was said very clearly last week. For Georgia, it’s a differentiated opinion, it’s probably legitimate for it to be differentiated. So why now? Quite simply because we support Ukraine and because it’s a political, strategic and also moral imperative. That’s what has changed./.

Published on 21/06/2022

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