Supporting Democracy and Security: The War in Ukraine - Foundation Office United Kingdom and Ireland
The event was introduced by Katie O'Connor, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung UK and Ireland and moderated by Noelle O'Connell, CEO, European Movement Ireland. Focusing on Russia's invasion of Ukrine, the event examined implications for the future of European security and other policy areas. This discussion also explored the EU's response to the was, Ukraine's future in Europe, as well as arising geopolitical developments.
The first speaker, Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, began his opening remarks by condemning Russia's invasion which is in rejection to the UN Charter, highlighting that there are far-reaching consequences that this brutal invasion of Ukraine will bring to Europe and worldwide. In relation to the European Union's response, Minister Coveney noted that the Treaty on European Union (TEU) permits Member States to contribute to peace, security and the development of International law, and that the response to this crisis has been a resolve to strengthen this multilateral system. Further, stating that Russia's attempt to win territory by force must fail, Minister Coveney expressed that Ireland fully supported a maximal approach to EU sanctions against Russia, in addition to providing financial assistance to Ukraine. The war must come with massive costs, even if that means Europeans have to also sacrifice. Minister Coveney also referred to the work Ireland has taken up at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on this issue. Within this forum, Ireland is leading efforts to hold Russia to account for its actions, while simultaneously supporting Ukraine. Minister Coveney also noted that it is clear that the security landscape in Europe has changed significantly. Providing cyber threats as one example, he said that debate was needed in terms of how we respond to security and defence issues in Ireland. In relation to Ukraine’s pending membership of the EU Minister Coveney gave Ireland’s full support to this process, saying that it is now clear that Ukraine has chosen a future path within the EU.
The second speaker, H.E. Cord Meier-Klodt, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Ireland, began his opening remarks by stating his agreement with every point put forward by Minister Coveney. Continuing, Ambassador Meier-Klodt noted the remarkable unity shown by the EU in its reaction to the war. This includes the six packages of sanctions which have been issued against Russia, a package more powerful than anything else which has been envisioned before. This deep solidarity with Ukraine also shows itself in the EU’s offer of membership. Balancing these thoughts however, Ambassador Meier-Klodt noted that we are in a marathon, not a sprint, when it comes to facing the challenges ahead. He said that the greatest level of unity possible should be the EU’s top priority during this period, and that all partners must redouble efforts to secure coherence and reliability in our commitments.
Following this discussion, questions were posed about what expectations our speakers had in relation to progress on Ukraine’s membership of the EU. Minister Coveney stated that Ireland has held a pro-enlargement stance for many years, as EU membership has provided for a positive transformation of Irish society. Ambassador Meier-Klodt also agreed that it was important for the EU to give a positive signal to Ukraine, as this is a country currently fighting for its survival.
Another question referred to the ability of the Russian economy to build up such control over the European energy and food sectors. In response, Minister Coveney noted that, although not a superpower economically Russia has huge amounts of natural resources, a lot of which Europe became too reliant upon. However, a decision has been made to clearly move away from this, but it will take time. Ambassador Meier-Klodt said that no single politician in Germany would agree that we have not become too independent of Russian energy. Pointing to one positive that has come from this crisis, he recognised that the push to source alternative energies has been given a boost as they have now become more commercially competitive.
You can watch a recording of the event here