ERR Brussels: EU leaders discuss Russia events

Olaf Scholz, Charles Michel and Jens Stoltenberg.
Olaf Scholz, Charles Michel and Jens Stoltenberg. Source: SCANPIX/AP

On Thursday, European leaders of state and government gathered in Brussels. The European Council will discuss over two days the conflict in Ukraine and migration.

The leaders also discussed recent developments in Russia. "Our goal in Russia is not to topple the government or change the regime. "Our goal is an independent Ukraine," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

Several leaders agreed with Scholz that the pace of aiding Ukraine must be accelerated and that Ukraine is winning the war. "It is clear that Russia is experiencing internal turmoil. I think that as democracies, we have to understand that in autocracies these things happen and events can unfold rapidly," Prime Minister of Latvia Krišjānis Kariņš said. "While we cannot control what happens in Russia we can control what we do outside of it."

But there are other points of view. "A weaker Putin poses an even greater threat. We must be extremely mindful of the consequences," the EU's high representative on foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, said.

The other major topic of the evening was migration, where Mediterranean countries wanted to tackle the real issues. Poland and Hungary, however, were unhappy that they were left out by a majority in the common position on the migration pact found a few weeks ago. "I propose a plan for Europe with secure borders," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, "this plan blocks illegal immigration without advocating financial penalties or abandoning unanimity vote."

Difficult to find support for the use of Russian frozen assets

Politicians and journalists have voiced a number of concerns regarding Estonia's position that Russia's frozen assets should be used to rebuild Ukraine.

In addition, the European Central Bank said this week that the use of interest income generated from Russia's frozen assets could undermine the credibility of the euro.

Germany is among the nations that has opposed the plan .

Kaja Kallas: The European Central Bank's arguments could be refuted

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that the conclusions indicate that the European Commission will keep working to guarantee that Russia's frozen assets can be used to rebuild Ukraine. According to her, they are on the same page as the European Commission in opposition to the European Central Bank, which believes such a move would be detrimental to the euro.

"The European Central Bank has published its own paper, but the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that the seizure of their assets was the more decisive action and if that had little effect on financial stability, this further action will not have any. And I also studied these arguments, which can, I think, be refuted one by one. Nobody will take away these assets without a valid reason. In any case, we keep affirming that these assets are in our possession, so Russia has the right to claim them; however, Ukraine has the same right to seek compensation from Russia for the damage caused to them. The two claims can be offset against each other," Kallas said.

The European Council also discussed, in a very informal way, the potential membership commitment for Ukraine at the following week's NATO summit.

According to Kallas, more promises will be made than in Bucharest in 2008. However, this could mean anything.

"These discussions are still ongoing at the level of officials in an effort to find language acceptable to all allies. So I have nothing new to report about this since yesterday. However, at the level of the European colleagues, all of the speakers expressed a genuine desire to go further," Kallas said.

The European Council continues on Friday with the topic of European competitiveness.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Kristina Kersa

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