Immediately after holding talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker while in Brussels, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “the Cold War has returned. But unlike before, the old communication lines are no longer available today”.
“We live in a dangerous world,” said Guterres. “For the first time in many decades the nonproliferation regimes – both in relation to nuclear weapons and chemical weapons – are being put into question. We have the Cold War back, with one difference. Today, the mechanisms that existed in the past in terms of dialogue, contact, control, to make sure things won’t spiral out of control by any kind of incident do not exist.”
Guterres and Juncker expressed their satisfaction with the “exemplary cooperation” between the EU and UN, particularly in regards to global operations that promote financial and political reforms and for an overhaul of the UN.
In a sombre assessment of the current geopolitical climate, Guterres stressed that multilateral institutions and the rule of law in international relations need to be strengthened in order to counterbalance the many threats – including terrorism, climate change, globalisation, and the rise of populism – that the world is facing the present time
Guterres also expressed full support for the efforts being made by the European Union to save a key nuclear agreement with Iran that has been thrown into crisis after US President Donald J. Trump abruptly quit the deal, despite pleas from his closest allies in the UK, France, and Germany to remain in the agreement in order to assure that Tehran does acquire the technology to develop a nuclear weapon.
During his meeting with Juncker, Guterres reiterated that the international community needs an EU with “an ever more united, effective, and vocal presence that will play a central role in today’s multilateral world.” Juncker responded to Guterres’ pleas by confirming that he will do his best to keep the Iran agreement alive as it is “of primordial importance for peace in the region and in the world”.
Juncker and Guterres’ meeting came just before a dinner ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. As part of the event, the former is set to present to the EU heads of state details regarding the measures that Brussels is set to take to help protect the economic and business interests of the EU Member States after being threatened by Trump, who said he is ready to impose sanctions on European companies for continuing to do business with Iran.
The EU must “agree on a common, unanimous approach to our relations with the US,” according to Juncker, who also said Brussels would look into what limited legal tools that it has at its disposal to shield European companies from US sanctions.
A proposal that was first drawn up by the College of Commissioners for the appointment of a special representative to the UN that would be charged with overseeing the safety of journalists was proposed by Juncker. He described the move as a much-needed gesture to help better protect reporters in high-risk areas “because it is a subject that worries us more and more in Europe and beyond”.
Juncker also weighed in on the political situation in Rome, saying Italy remains a top priority for Brussels as Italy’s membership in the bloc is vital to its continued existence, adding, “(The EU) would not be complete without the Italian nation.”