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Home News Crude Comments From Europe’s Top Diplomat Point to Bigger Problems

Crude Comments From Europe’s Top Diplomat Point to Bigger Problems

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A spokeswoman for Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, who is basically his boss, said that she retained confidence in him and did not offer any corrections to the garden metaphor.

Still, many politicians and experts within the bloc were outraged.

“This abhorrent, colonial language is unacceptable from any representative of our union, least of all our highest-ranking diplomat,” said Alice Bah Kuhnke, a prominent Swedish member of the European Parliament with the Green Party.

“It’s not the first time that Borrell’s behavior reflects poorly on the E.U.,” she added, referring to previous instances where Mr. Borrell’s comments drew ire for being clumsy, inflammatory or crude. “Once again, this raises questions about whether he is suitable to continue as high representative.”

Experts also said that alienating nations in the developing world could undermine the European Union’s efforts to bolster global partnerships in its search for its own independent place in the global power structure, as well as drum up support for Ukraine against Russia.

“This kind of comment puts a serious dent in the enterprise of European strategic autonomy,” said Mohammadbagher Forough, a research fellow at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies. “It upsets at the most profound level countries in the rest of the world, because of the history of colonialism.”

In United Nations General Assembly votes, a bellwether for how well Western allies are doing against Russia’s own diplomatic efforts, the European Union and the United States have struggled to rally support from African and Asian countries they would normally call allies. High-profile partners like South Africa and India have chosen to abstain on key votes, for example.

Seasoned E.U. observers point out that Mr. Borrell is not an outlier when it comes to the dominant thinking at the heart of the bloc’s policy machinery.

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