European Diplomatic Academy: Opening remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell at the inauguration of the pilot programme
13.10.2022 Bruges EEAS Press Team
« Thank you, Federica [Mogherini, Rector of the College of Europe], for these nice words. Thank you for organising this meeting.
I have to say that you look much younger. Now, three years later – three years after not being anymore the High Representative [for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy], you look much better. I am sure it is the atmosphere and the fantastic job that you have here – one of the best jobs one could imagine.
Thank you to all of you, and congratulations to all of you for having the extraordinary chance of studying here, in Bruges at the College of Europe. I am sure you are aware of how lucky you are.
The European Garden and the World Jungle
The gardeners have to go to the jungle. Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us, by different ways and means.
Yes, this is my most important message: we have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world.
We are privileged people. We built a combination of these three things – political freedom, economic prosperity, social cohesion – and we cannot pretend to survive as an exception. It has to be a way of supporting the others facing the big challenges of our time.
Present at the creation of the European Diplomatic academy
Today, just let me tell you that I am happy to participate in what can be said - and you said that - a “moment of creation”, to be “present at the creation”. To be “present at the creation” are some words that were said many years ago by one of the most famous diplomats, George Kennan - in George Kennan’s memoirs. And these memoirs are still considered the best insider account of the framing of the United States policy in the post-war – with post war, I mean post-World War II.
There are people who say that this war means the end for the European Union to have a foreign policy because we are following blindly the United States. This narrative exists. Yesterday, in the plane, I was reading nice articles explaining this approach.
And from my side, it is just the contrary: this war has been an occasion for the European Union to be more assertive and to push for the creation of a European stand – from the foreign policy side and also from the military and defence perspective.
Thanks to the European Parliament
European diplomats contribute to the aggregation of the Union
Thank you for the direction of this programme. Thank you also to the Florence Institute, the Maastricht Institute for conducting the feasibility study which will [pave] the way in order to make this pilot project a permanent reality. Because our purpose is to establish a fully-fledged [European] Diplomatic Academy - a permanent one - in order for the people that work in the European External [Action] Service to have first the knowledge that require this activity.
Teaching how EU institutions work
The rules-based system won at the UN against Russia
But if I can say - and even if there is a streaming -, I have also to say that I am worried because there were too many abstentions. When more or less 20% of the world community decided not to support or not to reject the Russian annexation – for me, it is too many. It is too many. We are happy because the bottle is quite full, but it is a little bit empty. We have to continue working in order to make this number of people who look to the other side and did not want to say clearly that they reject the annexation of parts of Ukraine in Russia.
We have to continue doing our diplomatic work in order to convince. I know that diplomacy is about values, and also about interest. And among these abstentions, there are a lot of calculations on interest: “No, I cannot vote against Russia because I am too much dependent on Russia”. It is not just a matter of being convinced, it is a matter of calculation of the interest and that is life. Everybody does that. We do. But [there were] too many abstentions.
We have to continue working diplomatically in order to make the world reject, still more clearly, his war against Ukraine – which as I said - is changing Europe because it is sending shockwaves around the world, creating challenges related to high prices of energy, high prices of food – here at home, but I can tell you, much more in other countries in Africa and Asia.
And then, there is the nuclear threat and Putin is saying he is not bluffing. Well, he cannot afford bluffing. And it has to be clear that the people supporting Ukraine and the European Union and the Member States, and the United Stated and NATO are not bluffing neither. And any nuclear attack against Ukraine will create an answer, not a nuclear answer but such a powerful answer from the military side that the Russian Army will be annihilated, and Putin should not be bluffing.
This is a serious moment in the history, and we have to show our unity, and our strength and our determination. Complete determination.
100 grain-loaded ships blocked at the Bosphorus
Can you imagine that today in the Black Sea, there are more 100 ships loaded with two million tonnes of grain? Can you imagine? 100 ships - not ten [ships], 100 – one besides the other, loaded with two [million] tonnes of grain, waiting to be controlled in order to go through the Bosphorus and reach the world market. People are waiting for them, and for some people, they will come too late. And people will die of hunger because the grain is being stopped waiting for a control.
So, I have to make a call here to everybody engaged here in this control procedure, to speed it up. Because on the other side of the Bosphorus, people are waiting to eat, as dramatic as this. So, be aware of the world in which we are leaving, of how difficult it is going to be.
The work of diplomats - and you will be -, I hope that when you will be in office, the war will already be over. I do not expect that the war lasts as much that you have to take care of it. But, after this war, it will become a period of instability and we will have to build a new security order. How do we integrate Russia – the post-Putin Russia - in this world order is something that will put a lot of work for people thinking on diplomacy, and on how to practice and to implement it.
Diplomacy is also sectorial
Today, there is not a clear difference between what is the diplomatic activity and what is the sectorial activity of policymakers. Everything has an external dimension and an internal dimension. Who is in charge of it? The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, because it is something that happens outside, or the sectoral responsibilities, because it is something that is related with very concrete things that happen at the same time inside and outside. [For example], migration, climate change and the fight against disinformation – both, each one of them has an internal dimension and an external dimension. Cybersecurity – is it an external problem or an internal problem? It is both.
I have been Minister of Foreign Affairs. I have been saying that my colleagues, all of them are also Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Because they travel, they talk with their colleagues outside their country, they discuss about climate, they discuss about migration, they discuss about disinformation.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has to be reinvented. They have to work in a different way because today everybody is a Minister of Foreign Affairs, because the foreign is internal and the internal is external. There is no longer a clear boundary. Who takes care of the internal dimension and who takes care of the external dimension? “You are in charge of the external dimension” - yes, but there is not a clear border between one thing and the other.
In some cases, it is internal, clearly, and the Minister of Interior has a lot to do on dealing with migration inside and in the borders but, before the borders, on the sources of migration, this is an external relations issue. Climate change is also another good example: it is a global problem so it has to do with the external world, but it is at the core of all internal policies.
That is why, I said Ministers of Foreign Affairs [have] to reinvent themselves in order to deal with these new situations, with a lot of competitors inside the policymaking structure.
Institutions, that is what matters
There is a big difference between Europe and the rest of the world – well, the rest of the world, understand me what I mean, no? - is that we have strong institutions. The most important thing for the quality of life of the people is institutions. The big difference between developed and not developed is not the economy, it is institutions. Here, we have a judiciary – a neutral, independent judiciary. Here, we have systems of distributing the revenue. Here, we have elections that provide a free for the citizens. Here, we have the red lights controlling the traffic, people taking the garbage. We have these kinds of things that make the life easy and secure.
Institutions, that is what matters. It is very difficult to build institutions. We can build a road. We can go with a bulldozer and money and workers, and we can build a road. I cannot go to emerging countries and build institutions for them – they have to be built by them. Otherwise, it would be a kind of neo-colonialism.
Institutions need committed and able people
You are the first generation. You are the trailblazers of a process, and I hope that many others will come. And when the years come, and the European Diplomatic Academy will have grown and established itself, then, you will be able to present it as a moment of creation. And you will remember that it started here in Bruges in a day like this one.
Nothing similar in Europe
Sublimation of national identity
The history of Europe has been the confrontation of identities. The Catholics against the Protestants, the French against the Germans, the Germans against the French, the Spanish against [inaudible]. We have been able to overcome this battle of identity. Today, being French or German is not something that puts people one against the other.
Identity is today the real battlefield. Identity is coming back as a powerful matter. Remember what someone said, “it is the economy, stupid”? Now, “it is the identity, stupid”. Today, it is identity what matters. Identity can be manipulated, it can be presented as something that is closed: “My identity is incompatible with your identity. It is either you or me”. This “either you or me” leads to war. The beauty of the European experience is “you and me”, overcoming the heritage of the past and offering to the world the recipe for peaceful coexistence, cooperation, integration and development.
You will be one engine of this multiple-layer identity-building. Believe me, Europe is a good example for many things. The world needs Europe. My experience of travelling around the world is that people look at us as a beacon. Why [do] so many people come to Europe? Are there flows of illegal or irregular migrants going to Russia? Not many. No, they are coming to Europe but for good reasons.
Be good gardeners
Thank you. »
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