New EU Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini: Russia is Responsible for Security in Eastern Ukraine


A young woman, for Europe’s number one diplomat? — there are people, who are not pleased! No matter, the 41-year-old former Italian foreign minister, as chief representative for Foreign/security affairs, brings a new accent, and a breath of fresh air to Brussels.

Kurier: Frau Mogherini, what comes first for you in EU foreign policy?

Federica Mogherini: My foremost challenge is to formulate the common European interest, in order to deal with it ensemble. The people are right to ask what the EU is doing in crises, or in issues such as energy, and climate. The people know that a lot of the problems can only be solved with joint effort.

Kurier: Do you want to redefine the EU partnership with Russia. What exactly is your plan?

FM: That is heavily dependent on Russia. Russia has close relations with the EU and is extremely relevant, in our common geography, history, culture, economy, and energy. Yet Russia’s behavior vis-a-vis Ukraine is not that of a European partner.

Kurier: So then Russia is no longer a strategic partner?

FM: There has to be a “restart.” Russia is a strategic land, but not, at present, a strategic partner. Russia is responsible for East Ukraine being secure. It would be a positive thing, once again to have a strategic partnership with Russia.

Kurier: You are aware, that Russia feels threatened by a strong NATO on its borders?

FM: I’d encourage Russia to see no antagonism in NATO. I would also say to NATO to treat Russia as a potential partner. There is no going back to the days of the Cold War.

Kurier: What does the EU expect from Kiev?

FM: Respect for the culture and for the language of the people, Autonomy for the East, and institutional reforms. There are many refugees from the region, and humanitarian aid is crucial. Something must be done against corruption; the economy has to function again. Ukraine is responsible for this transformation.

Kurier: Has the EU also made mistakes in the Russia-Ukraine conflict?

FM: The dialog we’ve got going between EU-Ukraine-Russia — we should have started this earlier.

Kurier: Europe has uncertainties: Ukraine, Syria, radical Islam, the threat of terror from ISIS — what countermeasures does Europe have?

FM: It is a matter of measures from medium to long term. Too often, we see problems coming at us; we only act when they are already here. This is part of our problem. As for security, you have to work long-term. That is, in the end, cheaper and more efficient. We must gather up our forces and resources, diplomacy and economy. That would make Europe a grand superpower.

Translated from German by Tom Winter 

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