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Borrell's Controversial Stint: An Introduction to the Enigmatic Diplomat
Josep Borrell, the undiplomatic diplomat, who fervently crusaded against Catalan independence, now faces scrutiny for his appeasement of Serbian fascism in the Balkans.
In the realm of international diplomacy, there are figures who navigate the delicate balance of statesmanship with finesse, fostering dialogue and promoting mutual understanding. And then there are those like Josep Borrell, whose turbulent tenure as the Spanish foreign minister leaves a trail of controversy and strained relations in its wake.
As I embarked on the task of introducing this enigmatic diplomat to my readers, it is imperative to shed light on the glaring shortcomings and questionable actions that have defined his career. From his relentless campaign against Catalan independence to the international tensions sparked by his ill-advised manoeuvres, Borrell's legacy is far from commendable.
Obsessed with Silencing Catalan Independence: From the moment Borrell assumed office, it became apparent that his primary concern was projecting an image of a unified Spain, undeterred by calls for Catalan independence. His relentless persecution of the Catalan government's foreign policy exemplifies this obsession. The suspension of three Catalan government offices abroad by the end of November 2019, orchestrated by the Catalan High Court under Borrell's influence, is just one instance of his tireless efforts to stifle any discourse on self-determination. By vetoing senior officials and severing institutional relationships, Borrell has exhibited a disregard for dialogue and diplomacy, resorting instead to heavy-handed tactics that undermine the principles of democracy.
The Anti-Independence Process: Borrell's unyielding persecution extended beyond Spanish borders, as evidenced by the alarming espionage activities targeting the Catalan government's offices in London, Geneva, and Berlin. The revelation that Spanish embassies were monitoring the efforts of Catalan delegations to promote the independence process sent shockwaves across the continent, raising concerns about the Spanish government's commitment to respecting international norms. The scandal even reached the British House of Commons, where the actions of Spanish government agents were deemed "shameful" by Hywel Williams, a member of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru.
Furthermore, Borrell spearheaded a campaign through Global Spain, the Spanish foreign ministry's PR unit, which aimed to combat the pro-independence theses through a meticulously prepared dossier of arguments. The subsequent release of videos and graphic material attempting to justify the harsh prison sentences imposed on pro-independence leaders further exemplified Borrell's biased stance and his disregard for balanced discourse.
Boycotts and Broken Relationships: Borrell's penchant for diplomatic clashes was not limited to targeting the Catalan independence movement. He actively lobbied to prevent a Scottish trade mission to Catalonia and attempted to dissuade Catalan businesspeople from visiting Edinburgh. The arbitrary vetoing of a visit by the Parliament of Catalonia to Scotland before the general election in April further exemplified his determination to isolate and undermine the legitimacy of the Catalan government on the international stage. Such actions not only hindered constructive engagement but also revealed a deep-seated fear of allowing alternative voices to be heard.
Consuls Fired and Diplomatic Ties Severed: Under Borrell's leadership, the Spanish foreign ministry witnessed a wave of dismissals that further strained relationships with various nations. The expulsion of the honorary Greek consul to Barcelona and the government delegate of Flanders in Spain, as well as the sacking of the Spanish consul in Edinburgh, were not based on professional considerations but rather on the expressed opinions regarding Catalonia. These dismissals, tinged with political motives, raised concerns about Spain's commitment to freedom of expression and its readiness to silence dissenting voices.
A Legacy of Controversy: Borrell's tenure was marked by a series of gaffes and ill-advised comments that drew criticism both domestically and internationally. From attempting to walk out of an interview on German television to making insensitive remarks about Native Americans, his conduct lacked the tact and diplomacy expected of a foreign minister. Moreover, his breach of confidentiality by disclosing sensitive information about an exiled Catalan politician's British police record further tarnished his already damaged reputation.
As we introduce Josep Borrell to our readers, it is impossible to overlook the scathing criticism that has marred his career. His relentless campaign against Catalan independence, coupled with his disregard for diplomatic decorum and the rule of law, raises serious concerns about his suitability for the role of European Union's head of diplomacy. While we present Borrell to you today, it is crucial to approach his legacy with scepticism and scrutiny, for the controversies and questionable actions that have defined his tenure cannot be ignored or glossed over.
Borrell's Controversial Silence: Unraveling the Disturbing Pattern in Kosovo-Serbia Relations
As Borrell has gained recent fame for his involvement in mediating the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, aimed at normalizing relations, let's review Borrell's actions in this case as well.
Serbia, an EU candidate country, is the only country in Europe that has decided not to apply sanctions against Russia for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Borrell remains silent.
In September 2022, Serbia, an EU candidate country, signs an agreement to align its foreign policy with the Russian Federation. Borrell remains silent.
Serbia, an EU candidate country, is led by Aleksandar Vucic, a former information and propaganda minister of the Milosevic regime, which caused multiple wars, crimes, and war crimes against humanity for a decade in Europe. It still endorses Milosevic and his fascist political ideology. Borrell remains silent.
Serbia signs agreements with Kosovo but refuses to implement them. When Kosovo takes steps to enforce the agreed-upon agreements, Borrell wakes up but condemns Kosovo.
Serbia urges Kosovan Serbs to boycott institutions in Mitrovica North. Borrell remains silent.
Serbia urges Kosovan Serbs to attack local offices of the Kosovan Central Election Commission in response to the President's announcement for the December 2022 elections. Borrell remains silent.
Serbia erects roadblocks across northern Kosovo throughout December. Borrell demands international cooperation from Kosovan authorities but remains silent about Serbia's behaviour, resulting in the agreement to postpone elections in northern Kosovo to April 2023.
Serbia verbally agrees to the Ohrid EU’s proposals with Kosovo, yet Aleksandar Vucic publicly claims that he is deceiving Western diplomats and will never agree to recognize Kosovo. Borrell remains silent.
On April 23, 2023, elections are organized in northern Kosovo. Serbia urges Kosovan Serbs to boycott the elections. Borrell remains silent.
The April 23, 2023, elections are certified by QUINT and other international observing bodies, and newly elected mayors are about to assume office. Serbia organizes civil disobedience. Borrell remains silent.
Kosovo deploys its police units to enable mayors to run the local administration under the rule of law. Borrell wakes up and launches a fierce condemnation of Kosovo's democratic and legal right to facilitate the mayors' work. Borrell solely accuses Kosovo of the entire situation. He is joined by the US Envoy DAS Escobar, US Embassies in Belgrade and Serbia, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and his partner Miroslav Lajcak.
Serbia urges Serbs to set up roadblocks, sends in Kosovo its armed militias, and deploys armed forces at the border. Borrell remains silent. But when Kosovo's Special Police Units launch a preemptive operation to deter roadblocks successfully, Borrell wakes up and condemns Kosovo's police operation, demanding the withdrawal of police and international cooperation.
Kosovo cooperates and agrees to allow NATO peacekeeping troops to step in while Special Police Units defend municipal buildings belonging to the Republic. Borrell keeps demanding the immediate withdrawal of Kosovan Police Units but condemns Kosovo for a crime of territorial and constitutional aggression committed by Serbia in Kosovo.
Every time Serbia commits a crime in Kosovo, it somehow gets away with it. Is there a corrupt prosecutor or diplomat like Borrell? Something seems wrong. Borrell has repeatedly dismissed democracy, the rule of law, justice, and accountability when it comes to Kosovo. How can he still continue as the top EU diplomat?
But it gets worse. Kosovan Police deploy their intelligence to identify and locate potential organizers behind the use of firearms against NATO peacekeeping troops. Borrell again condemns Kosovo and demands the immediate withdrawal of Kosovo police from the northern region.
On the other hand, Serbia responds to Kosovo's subsequent arrests of Serbian armed criminals backed by Belgrade by venturing into the territory of the Republic of Kosovo and abducting three Kosovan border guard officers. It takes nearly 40 hours for Borrell to say something, and when he does, it is another scandalous declaration claiming that the Kosovan Border Guard Officers were arrested by Serbian Special Forces, while they were actually abducted by a security agency of a foreign adversary.
Under pressure, Borrell is forced to demand the immediate release of the abducted Kosovan border officers. Instead of announcing measures against Serbia, Borrell announces measures against Kosovo, threatening to isolate the country.
On Friday, June 23, as Kosovan Police intelligence and anti-terror special operation units were working on a deterrent operation to prevent a terror attack by Belgrade armed militia, Borrell tweets that he is alarmed by the Special Police Units' presence in the north. Just three hours after his tweet, Kosovan anti-terror units successfully thwarted a terrorist attack by capturing a Belgrade-plated vehicle carrying ammunition and anti-tank missiles into Kosovo. Yet, unsurprisingly, Borrell remains silent about these revelations.
Borrell's subsequent and persistent attempts to scaremonger the people of Kosovo and discredit the democratically elected leadership of Kosovo raise concerns about his psychological state. He appears obsessed with harming Kosovo and somehow bringing down the principled and incorruptible Prime Minister, Albin Kurti.
How far and how much worse can this go until someone within the EU stands up to Borrell's relentless disregard for diplomatic values, democracy, justice, and accountability? I don't know. But what I know for sure is that this has widened the conflict and is playing well into Russia's playbook. One might ask, is Borrell one of those EU diplomats bought by Russian dirty money, launched by Putin in late 2015 to undermine European diplomacy, the rule of law, and democracy? I don't have evidence to prove it, but it's a question worth asking. Does everything Borrell has done with Kosovo alone fit the interests of Russian foreign policy? The answer is yes, especially after Serbia signed an agreement with Moscow to align its foreign policy in September 2022.
SOURCES: The Associated Press; Al Jazeera, BBC World News, El Nacional.Cat, Balkan Insight, Euro News, THE FRONTLINER.