Borrell proposes that the European Union sanction the Niger military junta | International

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The high representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, reported this Wednesday in Toledo that he will propose the "advisability" of the Twenty-seven sanctioning the military junta that carried out a coup in Niger on July 26. Borrell has reiterated Brussels' support for the decisions made by the Economic Community of West African countries (Cedeao), although he has specified that a possible military intervention must be carefully analyzed beforehand, since it is not about giving "blank checks ”. The city of La Mancha hosts this Wednesday an informal meeting of defense ministers of EU member countries, and tomorrow another of those responsible for European Foreign Affairs.

The head of community diplomacy has indicated that he is going to put on the table “the convenience of adopting a legal framework to establish sanctions against the coup plotters in Niger.” He has also expressed concern over news of another African coup, this time in Gabon. “It is evident that the situation in sub-Saharan Africa is not exactly improving (...) the entire area, starting with the Central African Republic, then Mali, Burkina Faso, now Niger and perhaps Gabon is in a very difficult situation. We have to think deeply about what is happening and how we can improve our policies towards those countries. “It is a great issue for Europe,” he acknowledged.

Borrell referred to the possible conclusions of the meeting: “As you know, they are informal Councils. It means that they are in-depth discussions on some topics, but no decisions are made. Decisions are made later in the formal Councils, but these are very important because this is where the opinion of the ministers is created, where points of view are exchanged, [y donde] “The issues are analyzed in depth.”

Regarding Niger, Borrell stressed that the ministers are going to study how to continue supporting ECOWAS. He clarified that the fundamental idea is to find “African solutions for African problems.” Even so, the high representative was prudent regarding the position of the EU in the face of a hypothetical military intervention by ECOWAS in Niger to restore the Government. “This is also going to be discussed, but naturally we have to know what it is about, how, when, where, in what way. “You cannot give blank checks.”

The German Secretary of State for Defence, Siemtje Möller, who is taking part in the Toledo summit in substitution of the defense minister, Boris Pistorius, said in the same vein upon arrival. “For now, we are focused above all on seeking a political solution to the crisis. We do not plan to discuss, for the moment, an intervention or support for a troop,” she said. The EU has always made it very clear, since the beginning of the coup, that it is ECOWAS, as an African institution, which should set the pace and that Europe will "support" its decisions, including the possibility of approving sanctions.

The Twenty-seven, who have promised that they will not recognize the coup authorities, have been searching for weeks, behind the scenes, how to provide a “coordinated response” to the crisis that does not worsen the situation even further, in view of the hostility of the coup plotters towards the authorities. Europeans, especially the French ones, but also the extreme vulnerability of a very poor population dependent on foreign aid. 42% of the 25 million Nigeriens live in extreme poverty. According to EU estimates, more than 4.3 million people depend on humanitarian aid, including 376,000 internally displaced people and 255,000 refugees from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali.

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Looking ahead to the Toledo meeting, Borrell and the acting Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, who tomorrow will chair the informal meeting of ministers in the field, urged in a letter sent to European capitals to take advantage of the meeting to “decide a coordinated and coherent EU strategy to support Niger, as well as other countries in the region.”

Security guarantees for Ukraine

In Toledo, Borrell indicated that the first topic to be discussed in this informal meeting, in addition to the situation in the Sahel, will be the war in Ukraine. "Let's see how [podemos] "Also work on the security guarantees that can be given to Ukraine in the long term - not just now in the war -, such as guaranteeing sustainable financial support," added the head of European diplomacy.

For her part, the acting Spanish Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, insisted on the importance of continuing to support Ukraine and the “values ​​that Ukraine represents”. Robles also recalled that at the Toledo Infantry Academy "very important work is being carried out within the scope of the mission to train Ukrainian fighters and soldiers."

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