Borrell's Moscow visit shows EU lacks common policy towards Russia
A senior Polish official has condemned a recent visit by Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, to Moscow as a disaster for the concept of European strength and unity.
Minister Krzysztof Szczerski, a member of the Polish President’s Office, told TVP Info public television that the visit showed the EU's weakness and its lack of a common policy towards Russia.
Borrell's visit to Russia, which coincided with demonstrations calling for the freedom of jailed Kremlin-critic Alexei Navalny, sparked a wave of criticism against him from Western politicians and diplomats, and calls for his resignation.
Adding to the furore surrounding the visit was the Kremlin’s announcement that three diplomats from EU countries - Germany, Poland and Sweden – were being expelled from Russia for allegedly participating in January 23 rallies held in support of Navalny.
"There are topics that the Brussels elites simply do not want to raise as it is not in the interest of the most important European capitals,” said Szczerski. “There is no consistent policy towards Russia."
The announcement came just before a joint press conference with Borrell and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.
Szczerski argued that if nominally the highest-ranking EU diplomat is treated in such a way by Moscow than this has "a disastrous impact on the whole concept of a politically strong European Union in international relations." He also stressed that the EU is divided when it comes to its approach towards Russia.
As an example of this the minister pointed to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which he described as "a great vote of no confidence in European policy."
In his opinion the project "violates all the basic principles of European policy," breaks rules regarding the "protection of human rights and democracy as European funds are transferred to a regime that is not democratic and does not respect human rights."
According to Szczerski, Nord Stream 2 also violates all the EU's energy principles as "it does not take into account the interests of a large number of EU countries, the principles of diversification and independence, and makes Europe even more dependent on a single gas source."
"Everything that Europe preaches, or even imposes within this community on other countries, is being broken by Nord Stream 2 which continues to be implemented," the presidential minister concluded.