Russia has divided the EU; "They violated our dignity" VIDEO
After a failed mission in Moscow, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, faced demands to resign.Source: EurActiv
At the moment of strained relations with Russia, some EU members, with their defending the Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline, further deepen the divisions in Europe and in the transatlantic partnership, writes the EUobserver portal, as EURACTIV reports.
Estonian MEP Riho Terras sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Layen, in which he assessed that she should take measures against Borrell, if he does not resign himself.
Terras called on other lawmakers to sign the letter, stating that Borrell "caused serious damage to the EU's reputation" and the "dignity" of his own position as High Representative.
Although the European Parliament is not competent to make a decision on the fate of the High Representative, and the letter will probably have no consequences, according to the EU Observer, it shows how much Borrell's behavior infuriated some, especially the eastern EU members. Borrell recently traveled to Moscow on his own initiative to launch a "strategic" dialogue and call for the release of arrested Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
However, while Borrell was in Moscow, Russian authorities expelled three Western diplomats and criticized the EU as an unreliable partner, and the High Representative not only failed to do anything for Navalny, but also criticized US policy toward Cuba and praised the Russian vaccine, writes the portal.
Upon his return, in order to defend himself from the increasingly loud criticism, Borrell wrote on his blog that he was the victim of an "aggressively directed press conference in Moscow" and that he found out about the expulsion of diplomats via "social networks".
"Russia is increasingly severing ties with Europe," Borrell assessed, and recommended the introduction of targeted sanctions against certain Russian officials. However, some details that have gradually emerged about the visit itself call into question the assessment of the High Representative, the portal writes.
Citing diplomatic sources, EUobserver writes that before the visit, Borrell asked to meet with the Russian deputy prime minister and a senior security official, and that Moscow's negative response should have been a sufficient warning sign and a reason to cancel the visit.
At the same time, the portal writes, neither France, Germany and Austria, standing resolutely in defense of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia, did much to defend the "dignity" of the EU.
EUobserver reminds that German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last Friday that despite Russia's moves, the construction of the gas pipeline will continue, and that at the same video conference, French President Emmanuel Macron fully showed solidarity with it, although it was shortly after the expulsion of Western diplomats, one of them being German.
Two days later, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz welcomed for the German daily Welt am Sonntag the decision of the German government to stay with the plans for the construction of Nord Stream 2.
So if Borrell managed to irritate the Americans with his criticism of their policy towards Cuba, that is nothing compared to the damage that the Nord Stream gas pipeline can cause to transatlantic relations, the EUobserver estimates.
The text reminds that the United States has already tried to stop the project by imposing sanctions on European companies involved in its construction, and that last week the State Department clarified that the new President Joe Biden shares the opinion that it is a means for Russia to strengthen its influence in the West, which undermines Atlantic security.
The EUobserver reminds that in Germany itself, voices are heard that the project should be stopped and that the German Greens, as well as individuals from the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Chancellor Merkel, are asking for it.
Internal conflicts, around Borrell and around the North Stream, indicate that Russia is probably "the most toxic issue for the EU and for transatlantic foreign policy" today.
"The Russians have choreographed Borrell's visit to intensify quarrels within the EU itself. Some (Eastern and Nordic) EU members will say they told Borrell not to go to Moscow. And he will justify himself. Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Rome will support him and Russia will get what it wanted... even deeper divisions in the EU," the EUobserver quoted an unnamed EU source saying.