Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting with Prime Ministers Ratas, Kučinskis and Skvernelis
glasnogovornik predsjednika Europskog vijeća
Good afternoon. First I would like to thank Prime Minister Jüri Ratas for having invited me to Tallinn today to participate in my first meeting with the Baltic Council. It's a real honour and pleasure.
Prime ministers Ratas, Kučinskis and Skvernelis and I discussed the informal summit later this week in Malta. The result of the Malta Summit should be a determined push to significantly reduce the number of irregular migrants coming from Libya to Italy, the so-called central Mediterranean route. After we have virtually closed the eastern Mediterranean route, from Turkey to Greece and to Central Europe, and through that brought the overall number of irregular migrants to EU down to a 1/3, the central Mediterranean route is today the biggest point of illegal entry into our continent. It is fatal for too many people. It is a dirty, profitable business for the smugglers. It is unsustainable for Italy and Europe. In short, it has to stop. That is why in Malta we need to agree on concrete operational measures.
We have also discussed the future of the EU of 27 member states, which is another topic of our summit in Malta. I just sent my remarks to EU leaders but let me make a few comments now.
The challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome 60 years ago. Today we are dealing with threats, which have previously not occurred, at least not on such a scale. Being here in Estonia let me focus on the external threat, which is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly - let's call it - assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia's aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.
In a world full of tension and confrontation, what is needed is courage, determination and political solidarity of Europeans. We must look to the future but we should never, under any circumstances, forget about the most important reasons why 60 years ago we decided to unite Europe. In Rome, we should strongly reiterate two basic, yet forgotten, truths: firstly, we have united in order to avoid another historic catastrophe, and secondly, that the times of European unity have been the best times in all of Europe's centuries-long history. It must be made crystal clear that the disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China. Only together can we be fully independent.
We should use the change in the trade strategy of the US to the EU's advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time. The European Union should not abandon its role as a trade superpower which is open to others, while protecting its own citizens and businesses, and remembering that free trade means fair trade. We should also firmly defend the international order based on the rule of law. We cannot surrender to those who want to weaken or invalidate the Transatlantic bond, without which global order and peace cannot survive. We should remind today our American friends of their own motto: United we stand, divided we fall. Thank you.