Photo: via Reuters
A group of about 80 members of the European Parliament demanded on Tuesday the resignation of the European High Representative for European Foreign Policy Josep Borrell after his “humiliating” trip to Moscow. In a letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the representatives said the trip had “seriously damaged the reputation of the European Union”.
According to the two sites, Borrell has already made a false assessment by traveling to Moscow. Once in the Russian capital, he said, “he repeatedly failed to defend European interests.” For example, he did not resist when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that European leaders who accuse Russia of trying to kill opposition leader Alexei Navalny are “misleading” and “culturally arrogant”.
Shortly after the press conference, it also became clear that Russia had declared three European diplomats persona non grata because they were present at a rally in support of Navalny. When he learned this, Borrell had to cut short his visit immediately, according to MPs. The letter concluded, “We believe that the president of the European Commission should take action if Borrell does not resign of his own accord.”
The letter was signed mainly by Eastern European MPs from the European People’s Party, European conservatives, reformists and the liberal group. Eastern European countries have long been pressing for a tougher course against Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin. Tuesday afternoon, Borrell explained his trip to Moscow at the plenum of Parliament, which has 705 people’s representatives.
On Monday, its spokesperson confirmed that Borrell, meanwhile, still enjoys von der Leyen’s support. And the High Representative is not just any commissioner nominated by his or her country. Borrell was appointed by the Heads of State or Government of all Member States with the approval of von der Leyen, by a qualified majority.
Meanwhile, Borrell is preparing new sanctions against Russia. “Russia is trying to divide us,” Borrell said at the European Parliament on Tuesday. They will not succeed. He said it was up to member states to decide on next steps, which could include sanctions. I will make specific proposals on this topic.
The topic will be discussed at the next meeting of European foreign ministers on February 22nd and at the European summit in March.