A diplomatic spat between European Union and Latin American countries over how — or even whether — to mention the war in Ukraine risks turning what was supposed to be a celebration of renewed partnership into a diplomatic failure.
The first day of the summit between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was all about emphasizing the strengthening of relations between the continents. But the lofty talk quickly fell through when EU negotiators tried to persuade Latin American countries to condemn Russia for its war in Ukraine.
Nicaragua and Cuba adamantly opposed the proposed formula on Ukraine, according to three EU officials — and one of them claimed that those two countries had received calls from Moscow advising them to do so.
The spat in Brussels came as Russia on Monday refused to extend a United Nations-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine to export its grain surpluses across the Black Sea. Both were stark reminders of how Russia’s hybrid geopolitics seeks to drive a wedge between the rich, pro-Ukrainian West and the rest of the world.
Despite several rounds of negotiations on a joint declaration that leaders could sign, there was no agreement Monday night — with some officials fearing the two-day summit could fail to produce any joint declaration at all.
“I confirm that we are still discussing the text of the statement,” European Council President Charles Michel said at noon on Monday, trying to limit the damage. “And that means something. It means that we want an ambitious text on both sides.”
“The negotiations will come to the finish line,” an EU diplomat said at the end of Monday’s meeting. Compromising the text “doesn’t jeopardize the summit – for now”.
Credibility is at stake
Failure to agree on a joint declaration would deal a blow to the EU’s credibility at a time when it seeks to unite voices at the United Nations and beyond in support of Ukraine against belligerent Russia. Brussels is also trying to become best friends with Latin America again in the face of an assertive China that is winning market share on the other side of the Atlantic.
If Russia lays down its arms, peace will come. “If Ukraine lays down its arms, there will be no more Ukraine,” said Latvian Prime Minister Krishanis Karis, whose country borders Russia.
“Perhaps from a region farther afield, it’s not clear to understand,” Karish added in a clear research into CELAC countries.
Recent copies of the documents, dated July 7 and July 13, seen by Politico, show that the language on Ukraine has been toned down, shifting from Moscow’s “strong” condemnation of the “violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty, to simply “expressing concern” about the war. in Ukraine.
Asked about the stumbling block, Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said: “I think it is part of this process to find, in this dialogue, a way out that respects the visions of both the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and each of its members.”
Ukraine was not the only divisive issue, as the draft statement resembles a shopping list, having prompted each capital to state its national priorities, such as colonial reparations or the Malvinas Islands, of which Argentina and the UK are no longer members. Member – He fought a short war 40 years ago.
Barbara Moens contributed reporting.
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