UAE condemns 'racist' comments by Borrell, summons EU mission head

UAE condemns 'racist' comments by Borrell, summons EU mission head
The EU foreign policy chief had called Europe a 'garden' while comparing the rest of the world to a 'jungle.'
2 min read
18 October, 2022
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, poses after being received in audience by the King, at the Zarzuela Palace, on 11 October, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. [Getty]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has expressed its rejection of comments it deems as 'racist' made by European Union foreign policy head Josep Borrell.

Following the comments, the UAE summoned the acting mission head of the EU delegation to the Gulf nation, demanding an explanation of the Spanish politician's remarks.  

Borrell referred to Europe as a 'garden,' deeming the rest of the world as a 'jungle' that 'could invade the garden' last week at the new European Diplomatic Academy in Belgium.

"The gardeners should take care of the garden, but they will not protect the garden by building walls. A nice small garden surrounded by high walls to prevent the jungle coming in is not going to be a solution. Because the jungle has a strong growth capacity, and the wall will never be high enough," Borrell said during his speech.

"The gardeners have to go to the jungle. Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us," he continued.

The remarks have since been widely circulated online.

The Emirates News Agency WAM reported that a statement was issued by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) regarding the comments. 

"The Ministry expressed its rejection of Borrell's remarks, characterising them as racist and noting that these statements contribute to a worsening climate of intolerance and discrimination worldwide," MoFAIC said. 

The MoFAIC statement also summoned Emil Paulsen, acting mission head at the EU Delegation to the UAE, asking the office of the High Representative to "provide a written explanation of the High Representative's hurtful and discriminatory comments."

"Borrell's remarks are a disappointing development that comes at a time when all parties are aware of the importance of respect for other religions, cultures, and ethnic groups, as well as values such as pluralism, coexistence, and tolerance," the statement added. 

At a press conference on Monday, Borrell claimed that his remarks were not racist or colonialist, according to a report by the Spanish international news agency EFE. The Spanish politician also expressed that he was 'disappointed' by these accusations.

Borrell explained that the comments were intended to reject the idea of 'fortress Europe' and to encourage students to engage with the world.