Volodimir Zelensky would have wanted to participate in the summit between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that concludes this Tuesday in Brussels, with the aim of gathering political support against the Kremlin among the countries of the region. This was conveyed in an interview with the Spanish press just before the visit to kyiv with which Pedro Sanchez the Spanish presidency of the Council was inaugurated on 1 July. Sánchez supported the request of the president of Ukraine, but the Latin American bloc has vetoed his presence. “I don’t think it would have been helpful”alleges the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalveswho occupies the rotating presidency of CELAC.
Differences over the Ukrainian war have weighed down the ‘reunion’ that the EU and CELAC They intended to stage in Brussels after eight years without summits at the highest level. For Europeans, Russia’s aggression constitutes an existential threat and hence their unwavering support (political, economic and military) for the kyiv government. In contrast, although most Latin American countries condemned the Russian invasion at the UN, have evaded joining the sanctions against Moscow or the shipment of arms to Ukraine. And they demand an immediate ceasefire and the start of peace negotiations.
“America needs to stop fomenting war and start talking about peace; lThe European Union has to start talking about peace so that we can convince Putin and Zelensky that peace is in everyone’s interest and that war is only in the interest of the two of them for now,” he said. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during a visit to Beijing last April. These statements caused fury both in Brussels and in Washington, but the Brazilian president has never backed down, although he has shown himself to be more cautious about the conflict.
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“In line with the United Nations Charter, we do not accept the use of force as a means to resolve disputes. Brazil supports all initiatives promoted by different countries and regions for the immediate cessation of hostilities and a negotiated peace. Resorting to sanctions and blockades without the support of international law only serves to penalize the most vulnerable parts of the population,” Lula da Silva said Monday during the opening session of the EU-CELAC summit.
The result of this clash is that, a few hours after the conclusion of the EU-CELAC summit, there is still no agreement between the two blocks on the text of conclusions. The Latin Americans had suggested removing any reference to Ukraine, but Poland and the Baltics consider this unacceptable. “This is the story of a former colonizer, Russia, who is attacking a former colony of theirs., Ukraine. Many countries around the world that now have doubts about supporting Ukraine or condemning Russia will understand it better this way,” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins claims.
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrellmaintains that it is possible to reach an agreement simply by reproducing the condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that it was approved in the UN General Assembly in March 2022 and again in February 2023. The problem is that Cuba, Boliva, El Salvador and Nicaragua abstained in those votes, while Venezuela was absent both times.
“I am aware that EU member states may have understandable concerns about the situation in Ukraine. But this summit must not become another useless battleground for discussions on this issue, which has already been addressed and continues to be addressed in other more relevant forums. A mature diplomacy between the contending parties is needed for an effective resolution”, argued the current president of CELAC during the inauguration of the summit.
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“War and fighting are causing enormous additional pain and suffering to the poor in distant lands from rising food, oil and credit prices. So we must allow productive peace talks, not unproductive posturing for hegemony or imperial domination“, has indicated Gonsalves, who also criticizes the double standard of measurement of the EU in other conflicts such as those that affect Haiti or the Palestinians.
The president of the Government, Pedro Sanchezhas replied indirectly (without citing Ukraine or Russia) appealing to “renew our common confidence in the values of multilateralism: especially in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, in the principles of the United Nations, in the protection of human rights , in it respect for the territorial integrity of Statesin the freedom of the peoples”.
“We want to explain to our Latin American friends why it seems to us that it is very important to support Ukraine and why we are absolutely convinced that it is important not to let Russia win. Because if Russia wins, we are all in danger.“, warned the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
For the resigned Prime Minister of the Netherlands, mark ruttethe problem is that “we in Europe have been quite arrogant in recent decades in our dealings and in our foreign policy, not only with Latin America, but also with Africa and parts of Asia.” “We didn’t pick up the phone when they needed us. And they feel that now when we need them we force them to do exactly what we want,” she explained.
“We Europeans have not paid enough attention to Latin Americans. And now we have to react and take into account the new geopolitical scenario with the rise of China and the new role of Russia. We have to express and show not only concern, but dialogue and commitment,” says Borrell.