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Josep Borrell is an embarrassment

opinionEditorialJosep Borrell is an embarrassment

The second-in-command of the Foreign Policy vertical of the European Union secretariat is Josep Borrell. A few days ago, in response to a question tossed to him by the Financial Times correspondent, Borrell said that the EU would place sanctions on India “for re-selling oil” from Russia. Almost all the attention of the EU secretariat since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has been focused on ensuring that the Russian Federation disintegrate in the manner that the USSR did in 1991. All EU verticals are fixated on this common task, so it is no surprise that Borrell is angry at India for doing precisely what practically every EU member is doing, which is to buy commodities from the Russian Federation. The CCP has since its inception over a century ago based its thinking on the premise that only when China becomes the premier power on the globe will there be a civilisational equilibrium. In much the same way, the EU has based itself on the implicit premise that there is an exceptional quality to the peoples of Europe (including those of the same ethnicity who are scattered across the rest of the world) that make them the only ones qualified to lecture the rest on a host of issues. In 2019, India all but stopped oil imports from Iran as a consequence of the threat of CAATSA sanctions dangled before the country by some officials of the Trump administration. As a consequence, the influence of the biggest democracy in the world over the governance structure in Iran was reduced, while that of the PRC, expanded as a consequence. How such a situation would serve US interests is a mystery that is known only to the officials in Washington who set in train reflexes that may have endangered India’s land access to Central Asia and Iran, given that the PLA has yet to give permission to GHQ Rawalpindi to allow India to access those parts through Pakistan. Fortunately, swift diplomacy with Iran by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar averted such a situation, and the Chabahar route remained open for India. Given the Iran precedent, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was clear from the start of the Ukraine war that India would not stop buying oil from Russia. Indeed, India would buy as much as it could, a decision that has had substantial beneficial effects on Indian finances and the economy more generally.
And this is what seems to be bothering Borrell, that a policy is being pursued by New Delhi that has not been approved by the EU Secretariat. Considerations such as the need for ensuring the tens of millions of Indian citizens be lifted more quickly from extreme poverty do not seem to have crossed the mind of the deputy to the President of the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen, who too has made it her life’s work to reduce Russia into a shambles. All through the instrumentality of Ukraine, the country in Europe that is paying the steepest price for the way in which the EU and NATO have become turbocharged in seeking the forced withdrawal of Russian forces from territories over which they have enjoyed de facto control since 2014. While the members of the EU themselves have not stopped buying a host of commodities from Russia, the EU Secretariat has constantly sniped at India for doing exactly the same. It took External Affairs Minister Jaishankar about a minute to deal with the threat by Borrell, by pointing out that EU regulations themselves provided for such purchases provided the crude oil got refined into petroproducts, which is exactly what is happening in India. It is clear that the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy & Security has not found the time to read through the EU regulations despite this being his fourth year in a well-paying job that is light on any activity that may accurately be defined as work. Were the EU to follow through on Borrell’s public threat to impose sanctions on India, the entity that would be gleeful would be the Chinese Communist Party, which constantly seeks to find ways of weakening the ties between India and the EU. In an era when India and the countries across both shores of the Atlantic need to work closely together rather than the EU threaten India with punitive measures, Josep Borrell is out of touch with reality to the extent that he has become an embarrassment to the EU itself.

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