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Secretary Antony J. Blinken, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, And Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar At the Munich Security Conference


MODERATOR:  (In progress) for Germany.  Welcome.  (Applause.)

Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the U.S.  (Applause.)  Nice to have you.

And Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Republic of India.  Minister.  (Applause.)

I hope that based on the topic of the session that you will not all agree with each other and we can have some sparks.  We have about 43 minutes, and I will prepare your questions because I’ll ask a few questions and then I’ll turn to the audience.

Minister Baerbock, I’m going to start with you.  Germany’s national security strategy calls for expanding global partnerships and is quite open about the multipolarity of the world today.  How do you go about it at a time when there are so many divisions, and particularly when increasingly we feel the Global South and the Western world are not on the same page?

FOREIGN MINISTER BAERBOCK:  Well, first of all, good afternoon.  Very good to have this important session with my dear colleagues.

In a nutshell, it’s more important than ever.  Because we are not naïve:  Obviously, there are ruthless actors who don’t want to – to drub up the title of our panel – negotiate the slice of the pie, but they want to rob the whole bakery.  And having that in mind, I believe it’s even more important than ever that those who are at the table negotiating about the slices of the pie stay there, first of all, resolute, respectfully, and also reflective.  And this is the core also of our national security strategy, which we have drafted as the German government, making very clear in the light of this ruthless war of aggression against Ukraine that we are resolute in defending international law.  It’s the best protection for everybody around the world.

So there is no question about negotiating whether Ukraine has right of self-defense or not.  We all agreed not only – I don’t like that word, but “Western” actors – we all agreed in our Charter of the United Nations there is the right of self-defense, and we all agreed on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Having said that, obviously we have to be respectful that especially within Ukraine – and I think this is the lesson we have learned, and it was very important to speak to partners like India and so many around the world – Brazil, South Africa – we have to be respectful that obviously, in this moment when we said we need the whole international security, others asked some questions, like:  Where have you been when we needed you?  Or asked some question, so actually what does it mean for the future?  Do you also stand with us?  And this is, I would say, maybe something you in the attitude – at least from our foreign politics from Europe to say, okay, we cannot take for granted that everybody just agrees with our European or transatlantic vision.

And the third part, I think it’s the most easy, but it’s the strongest asset for democracies.  The strength of democracy, in my point of view, is that we can be self-reflective and self-critical.  So asking in a moment when others – for example, war of aggression – were not saying automatically, okay, we support you, not saying why don’t you get it, but asking ourself why they cannot support us.

And I think this is the critical part but the most powerful part, and at least, again, in our national security strategy we try to do it, talking about, for example, our colonialism past.  Understanding why South Africa was mentioning the whole time their ties with Russia in the Apartheid regime.  And being self-critical and saying, oh, yeah, not all democracies have stood back in time at their side, and taking that as something where we said, yes, we might have made a mistake in the past, but we cannot change the past; we can only change the future together.  I think this is the strength of multilateralism, and we see around the world the majority believes in it.

MODERATOR:  Do you find that increasingly people are questioning more when it comes to – let’s stick to Ukraine and we’ll get to Gaza in a minute.  But on Ukraine, are people coming around to your point of view or are they distancing themselves more?

FOREIGN MINISTER BAERBOCK:  Well, to see it over the least three years, I mean, we have seen the 142 voting in the General Assembly, so it is a majority of states.  Because most of the countries in the world, like mine – we’re not the biggest country in the world; we don’t have the biggest military means.  And this is for most of the countries:  They know that the Charter of the United Nations, the rule of law is their life insurance.

So we see this big majority there when you see also the support.  Many have traveled – and I think this is really important to give always the question of war of aggression a human face.  It was not that we convinced some other actors in the world by saying now you have to stand with that, but when a delegation traveled to Kyiv – and not only Kyiv, to Bucha, to Irpin – when they spoke, like we did, to the parents of those where their child had been kidnapped by Russia, then we give this ideation a human face, and that’s all about.  And this is why it’s so important to not only talk about state, but we talk about the people, talk about also the question of the rule of law in front of the International Criminal Court, for example, bringing crimes against humanity in front of the court.  And there we see again the majority of the states is pushing for that one.

MODERATOR:  Secretary Blinken, there is a – there is a feeling that – it’s more than a feeling, it’s what we see on – happening on the ground, that the U.S.-China tensions are leading to greater fragmentation and that you’re almost competing for alliances:  who’s our ally?  And we see this within the UN, in various UN institutions, but we just see it all around the globe.  To what extent do you feel that you are challenged in your travels around the world on the fundamental questions?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, it’s wonderful to be with my friends, wonderful to be back in Munich at the Security Conference, known among all of us as speed dating for diplomats.  (Laughter.)

But we’ve done a couple of things, and I’ll come quickly to your question.  From the start of this administration, we’ve made an investment, a reinvestment, in our alliances, in our partnerships, and in the multilateral system.  We’ve reinvested, we’ve re-engaged, we’ve tried to rejuvenate, we’ve even reimagined.  And the reason for that is simple:  it’s because it’s in our interest to do it.  Not a single one of the challenges that we have to face and that are so important to the interests of the American people can we effectively deal with alone, as powerful and as resourceful as we are.  And so across the board, we’ve seen our comparative advantage as having a strong network of voluntary alliances, voluntary partnerships.  And if you’re not at the table in the international system, you’re going to be on the menu.  So it was very important for us to re-engage multilaterally, and we’ve done that.

When it comes to strategic competition – and there’s no doubt that we have one with China – there are a few things to be said.  First, we have an obligation to manage that relationship responsibly, and I think that’s something that we hear from countries around the world, and it’s clearly in our interest to do so, and that’s exactly what President Biden is doing.  And when it comes to other countries, the point is not to say to country X, Y, or Z, “You have to choose;” the point is to offer a good choice.  And if we can do that – and I believe we can and we have and will continue – then I think the choice becomes fairly self-evident.

Over the last six or seven months, we have engaged in a sustainable way with China.  I just met my counterpart Wang Yi here in Munich, but that follows a series of meetings, notably and most importantly President Biden and President Xi, and I think we’ve brought greater stability to the relationship, not moving away from or ignoring the fact that, yes, we have a competition, there are areas where we are contesting each other, but there are also areas where we can and should cooperate because it’s in our interest to do that.

One of the best examples of that is the agreement reached with China on fentanyl.  The single largest – the number one killer, number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 49 is the synthetic opioid, fentanyl.  Now we have meaningful cooperation from and with China on fentanyl.  That’s going to make a difference in the lives of Americans.

MODERATOR:  And do you think it is sustainable to have cooperation on – in some areas, climate being one of them, but to have a strategic competition – the strategic competition that defines geopolitics today and that will go on for a very long time?  Do you think that that is sustainable that both sides sort of can find rules of engagement?  This is where we compete and this is where we cooperate?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Some fundamentals haven’t changed.  Countries will act in their self-interest.  Where we have to compete, we will.  Where we have to contest, we will.  Where it makes sense to cooperate, we will.  And I think you can do all of the above at the same time.

But there’s something else that’s, I think, changed, and it goes back to the first part of the question.  The very fact that we’ve re-engaged and rejuvenated as well as reimagined some of our alliances and partnerships, along with the investments that we’ve made at home in the United States – the investments we’ve made in our infrastructure, the investments we’ve made in science and technology and chips, the building blocks of the 21st century economy, the investments we’ve made in climate technology – you put those two things together:  investments at home, much greater alignment with partners and allies across the board in Europe, in the Indo-Pacific, in Asia on how to approach a question as complicated as relations with China – that puts us in a position of much greater strength in dealing with all of the challenges that we have to deal with.

MODERATOR:  Minister Jaishankar, India has more of a multiple-choice mindset.  Is – would that be – would that be right?  From nonalignment to – I think you may have called it or somebody else called it “all-alignment.”  So you can pick and choose alliances, but you can also pick and choose topics.  On Russia, for example, you still buy Russian oil.  Is that okay with your counterpart from the U.S.?  Everything is – your relationship is fine?  You can do whatever you want whenever you want?  (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  Okay.  First of all —

MODERATOR:  I mean, you’re sitting next to each other, so —

FOREIGN MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  No, no.  First of all, delighted to be here, and I couldn’t find a better set of people to be with on the stage.  So thank you for whoever put us on together.

Your question:  Do we have multiple options?  The answer is yes.  Is that a problem?  Why should it be a problem?  If I’m smart enough to have multiple options, you should be admiring me, you shouldn’t be criticizing me.  (Laughter and applause.)

Now, is that a problem for other people?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think so, certainly in this case and in that case.  Because, look, we try to explain what are the different pulls and pressures which countries have.  And it’s very hard to have a unidimensional relationship.  Now, again, different countries and different relationships have different histories.  If I were to look, say, between the U.S. and Germany, it is rooted – there’s an alliance nature to it; there’s a certain history on which that relationship is grounded.  In our case it’s very different.

So I don’t want you to even inadvertently give the impression that we are purely and unsentimentally transactional.  We are not.  We get along with people.  We believe in things, we share things, we agree on some things.  But there are times when you’re located in different places, have different levels of development, different experiences – all of that gets into it.  So life is complicated.  Life is differentiated.  And I think it’s very important today not to reduce the entire complexity of our world into very sweeping propositions.  I think that era is today behind us.

So I agree very much with what Tony said, which is good partners provide choices.  Smart partners take some of those choices.  But sometimes there will be choices on which you say, well, I think I’ll pass up on that one.

MODERATOR:  It’s a very good point, which brings me to the BRICS and the rise of middle powers, because that is one of the shifts that we see today.  To what extent do you think that that is a challenge to the West, or maybe that can be sort of the bridge, especially in a world where we will see continued competition between the U.S. and China?  And I’m going to ask Minister Jaishankar first and – but I’d love for both of you to comment as well.

FOREIGN MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  Yeah, I thought maybe the BRICS one you wanted the U.S. to —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  After you, Jai, please.  (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  But look, again, I think it’s important to go back to how it began.  The BRICS started in an era where Western dominance was very strong.  The premier gathering of the world was the G7, and you had a number of significant powers in the world who felt that, well, they were not part of the G7 but maybe they also brought value to the table by sitting and discussing with others.

So in a sense you had a collection of these countries.  It was originally four; South Africa joined later.  And if you look at it, it’s a very interesting group because it’s geographically as disparate as it can be.  Yet it is bound by the fact that these discussions we’ve had over a decade and a half have been very useful for all of us.

Now, like any product, you test it in the market at some point.  We tested it last year and asked people, so how many of you want to join BRICS?  And we got almost 30 countries who were willing to join BRICS.  So clearly, if 30 countries saw value in it, there must be something good we have done.

So I think it’s important today to make a distinction between being non-West and anti-West.  I would certainly characterize India as a country which is non-West, but which has an extremely strong relationship with Western countries getting better by the day.  Not everybody else necessarily in that grouping might qualify for that description.

But the contribution the BRICS has made – if one looks at the G7 and how it evolved into the G20, I think in a way those additional 13 members who came into this bigger grouping, five of them are BRICS members.  The fact that there was another group which was meeting regularly and discussing and debating I think certainly was an input into the expansion of the G7 into the G20.  So I think we did a service to the world.

MODERATOR:  Yeah.  Secretary Blinken?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I’m tempted to say what my friend said and leave it at that.  Look, the – what we don’t need to do and what we’re not doing is trying to somehow design the world into rigid blocks.  Each and every one of the issues that we have to deal with, and deal with in the interests of the American people, may have different collections and coalitions of countries that are focused on it, that bring certain experiences, certain capacities, and I think about it as variable geometry.  We’re putting together a puzzle with collections of countries, and not just countries, organizations of different sizes and different shapes to deal with a given problem.

As Jai said, we have – and of course the fact that the relationship between our countries, I would argue, is the strongest it’s ever been, it makes no difference that India happens to be a leading member of BRICS.  We’re a leading member of the G7.  We have the G20 and we have a multiplicity of things that we’re doing together every single day in different ways of organizing ourselves.  India and the United States working together in AUKUS, working together – I mean, excuse me, in the Quad, working together in a variety of other fora.  All of this goes to the point that the complexity and the multiplicity of the challenges that we have demands that we find different ways to work together, and this shouldn’t be done on an exclusive basis.

Look, our default, of course, is to work in the first instance with fellow democracies.  That’s only normal and natural.  But we are not only willing, we are actively working with any country that wants to solve a particular problem and wants to do so within the context of a rules-based order.  That’s the way we approach things.

MODERATOR:  Speaking of a rule-based order, major powers today are criticized for sort of upholding the rule-based order and upholding values in certain areas but not in others, and a lot of people around the world – and particularly in the Global South but I would say not only in the Global South; even within our Western democracies – are confused.  They look at what’s happening in Gaza and at the intensity of the killing, and they ask:  Where are human rights?  Where are these Western values?  I’m sure you’re having here today and yesterday a lot of similar discussions, Minister Baerbock.

FOREIGN MINISTER BAERBOCK:  Yes, and they are so productive because many of them are not only speed dating, but behind closed doors, very trustfully.  And I think the most important job for those who believe in a rules-based international order, be it politicians, be it journalists, be it citizens, is to not be pushed into this speed dating, into this black-and-white world in all of our bubbles.  Because easily – and this is a double-standard question, yeah – if you only look – and you mentioned the situation in Gaza.  If I only see the whole time on YouTube what’s happening in Gaza, and I do that every second day – every day I cannot stand it because otherwise I couldn’t get out of my bed anymore – yeah, your reality is obviously – the only thing what we can and have to do right now is to go in a total ceasefire to rescue these innocent children dying there every day.  Yeah?

So, and you’re 100 percent right by that.  But the question is to really come to this reality is to force myself – not myself, but all these persons who are saying this is the moral right thing to do – to then also ask:  So how do we come to that?  And this is then when some might ask:  So why you, German foreign minister, didn’t call for immediate ceasefire the last – months ago?  Because I also looked at the other side, at the other YouTube videos, at the other bubbles, yeah, where we saw, I saw for days after the 7th of October – I didn’t only see it, I spoke to the father whose wife and two little girls had been kidnapped by terrorists from Hamas.  I saw the video where women have been not only raped, but murdered afterwards.  And in that moment for me it was clear, again, that we can also not only relate to the past saying, okay, we know how negotiations about – with terrorists are working.  Because if you saw that video and if you were ready to see this woman suffering there, you understand that this is not only a military logic.  Because those people who are doing this, raping a woman and killing her afterwards, they don’t want to exchange soldiers for political prisoners.  They enjoy slaughtering women.

I’m saying that because I think this is really important, bringing it down to the people.  Because then you understand in this kind of situation, how do we come now to a ceasefire?  That the release of hostages, the release of these women is crucial because otherwise we can never save the children in Gaza.

So this comes all back to what my dear colleague Jaishankar has said.  If we are not capable of stepping out of right or wrong, yes or no, black or white, we will in this world of dilemmas never do what our job – I would say the three of us here – is:  to do all the best to rescue people.  And this is why we have been working so intensively for those partners, Arab partners, in the last three months to see how we can come together for the most important point right now:  freeing the hostages, having a humanitarian pause to bring in humanitarian support into Gaza, and not stopping even though the headlines are there every day:  You cannot fix it anyhow.

I think the biggest favor for those who do not care for human rights and the international order is that we are giving up and that we are not being ready to look at these different topics from our different side.  And this is why – at least for me; I would say for all the three of us – use our competences, use our channels we are having.  And there again diversity is beneficial.  If we are not all the same, but if we are trying to solve this horrible war in the Middle East from our different perspectives, then we can also bring security both for the people in Israel and the people in Gaza.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I have to say I fully subscribe – (applause) – fully subscribe to everything that Annalena said.  And I think as people in positions, for a brief period of time, of responsibility, but also, and maybe foremost, as human beings – as mothers, fathers, children, brothers, and sisters – we’re intensely driven to try to prevent or stop human suffering, including the suffering of men, women, and children in Gaza.  The question is how to do it most effectively and how to take account of the incredible complexity that Annalena just outlined so well.

But there’s another element to this that we have a responsibility to do something about.  The greatest poison in our common well is dehumanization.  And we see that in all directions.  And if you lose sight of the humanity of someone else, then your heart is hardened to a point where anything is acceptable and anything is possible.  Part of our responsibility is to do what we can to push back, to avoid, to call out dehumanization wherever it’s coming from, in whatever direction.  Because if we can’t get at that, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to do other things.

MODERATOR:  One other criticism that I think I’m sure you hear a lot is U.S. policy has, of course, shifted in the last couple of months, but yet you want the fighting to stop, but there is no sign whatsoever that you’re not willing to send weapons to Israel, for example.  So that also confuses people.  When they look at the rhetoric versus the action, what would you say to that?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, we’re committed to Israel’s security.  That’s been clear from day one.  It remains clear.  And we understand and support the proposition that Israel has to find ways to make sure that what happened on October 7th never happens again.  (Applause.)  So we start there.

But we’ve also said – and not only said, we’ve acted on the proposition – that, of course, the way Israel does that matters profoundly.  The way it does it in terms of trying to ensure greater protection for civilians who are caught in a crossfire of Hamas’s making.  That’s absolutely essential.  Making sure that people in need get the assistance they need.  We are working on this every single day.  And as we’ve seen this evolve over the last four months, things have happened as a result of our engagement, our intervention, that I would say probably would not have happened, almost certainly wouldn’t have happened without it.  But it’s not enough; it’s insufficient.  And that’s why we’re at it almost, literally, 24 hours a day.

FOREIGN MINISTER BAERBOCK:  May I add one thing on that?

MODERATOR:  What is – yes, sure.

FOREIGN MINISTER BAERBOCK:  Because for the full picture – and this is what we are discussing, and this is a good thing.  In these horrible times, I’m always trying to see the glimpse of hope at the horizon.  The good thing is that over the last three months, yeah, all these discussions were helpful in a way.  First we didn’t have any humanitarian support; now we have at least a few trucks – not enough trucks.  But also from the other understanding – and this is why I totally agree with the security guarantees for Israel – you cannot just say we need a ceasefire and the Israeli government, the IDF has to stop, and then we just wait and see what happens through the regrouping of Hamas.  No, we have to give an answer to both legitimate security concerns.

So our part of discussion is, for example, in the north, yeah?  If people go back to the north, how do we as an international community secure that Hamas is not regrouping there, using, misusing against civilians as human protection shield?  And this is also part of our common international security response.  (Applause.)

MODERATOR:  Minister Jaishankar, what is the view from India?  What would you – if you had some advice for your colleagues, what would you be – what would you tell them?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  Well, I don’t have advice for my colleagues, though I – particularly, I think all of us follow the enormous efforts which Tony is putting in right now.  But look, the way we look at it, there are different dimensions, different elements to this.

Number one, we must be clear that what happened on October 7th was terrorism.  No caveats, no justification, no explanation.  It was terrorism.

Number two, as Israel responds, it is important that Israel should be – should have been very mindful of civilian casualties, that it has an obligation to observe international humanitarian law.

Number three, the return of hostages is today imperative.

Number four, there is a need for a humanitarian corridor, a sustainable humanitarian corridor to provide relief.  And eventually, there has to be a permanent fix, a long-term fix, otherwise we’re going to see a recurrence.

And I think today, suddenly – India has long believed in a two-state solution; we have maintained that position for many decades.  And I think today, many more countries in the world today feel not just that a two-state solution is necessary, but it is more urgent than it was before.

MODERATOR:  Let me take a couple of questions.  I think there is a gentleman there, and then there and there.  Okay, three.  Let’s take – let’s take all three questions.  Actually, we’ll take four questions very quickly.

PARTICIPANT:  Four is here?

MODERATOR:  Yes, four is there.

QUESTION:  Nathalie Tocci, Rome.  A question – in fact, both to Secretary Blinken and to Foreign Minister Baerbock.  I mean, the logic of the argument of being somewhat reticent on pushing for a ceasefire, as far as I understand, is basically that of saying, well, one needs to make sure that what happened on the 7th of October does not happen again.  And so the question that I ask you is, do you think that what is happening now, what has happened over the last four months, will actually reduce the chances of what happened on the 7th of October happening again?  Will it actually make Israel more secure or not?

MODERATOR:  Okay, so there is —

FOREIGN MINISTER BAERBOCK:  And I (inaudible).

MODERATOR:  Okay, so I thought that question was that side, but okay.

QUESTION:  Okay, thank you very much.  Oleksiy Goncharenko, a member of the parliament of Ukraine.  Secretary Blinken, you said those who are not at the table are in the menu.  Ukraine was at the table in Budapest when we voluntarily gave up our nuclear weaponry.  Now we are in the menu.  So the question is, what is the way for us?  We are confronted with a nuclear power.  Either we will become a member of NATO Alliance with a nuclear power or we should restore our nuclear status.  I don’t see any other option.  What option do you prefer and what you will answer on this?  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  There’s a question here, question there, and then we’ll do one round.  Would that be okay?

PARTICIPANT:  Do you want me to get —

MODERATOR:  Yes, I mean, I have said – yeah, here we go.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  My name is Shafik Gabr, from Egypt.  My question is to Secretary Blinken.  You’ve invested an incredible amount of time trying to bring a settlement in the issue of Gaza, and at the very same time we all feel in the region that things can spill over in a very dramatic way.  Especially, there are many excuses of why not to have a solution, but to do things step by step.  That is not going to work.  So my question to you is, sir, why, with all the countries, including the United States, including the UK, just what Cameron has just said, proclaiming a two-state solution is not something the United States puts on the floor now and be able to achieve that?

MODERATOR:  Okay, thank you.  Thank you.  Finally, there’s a question there, and then I’m afraid —

QUESTION:  I have a loud voice; I don’t need a microphone.  Hello, my name is Masih Alinejad.  I’m an Iranian troublemaker for mullahs, and I have a simple question.  We cannot talk about global security by forgetting about Iran, by burying the human rights abuses under the carpet.  I am here today with a woman who was in the front line of last year’s uprising.  She was shot in her eye; she lost her eyes because of the Revolutionary Guards.  So my question is very clear:  How we can reach to peace and security in the world without designating the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, which the United States of America did that – thanks – but why the allies are not following the United States?  The democratic countries are not as united as autocracy, because Islamic Republic is helping Putin, is helping Hamas, all the proxies in Yemen.  So as we see, unfortunately, dictators are more united than democratic countries.  Do you have any common strategy to isolate Islamic Repulbic and address Khamenei and his gang of killers the way that you address Putin?  Thank you so much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  All three of you, you can pick the question you want to answer.  I know one was directed – a couple were directed at Secretary Blinken.  So maybe —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Want me to start?

MODERATOR:  Maybe you start.  Yeah.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good.  So to the question, is Israel more secure now after – four months after October 7th, I think the answer is, in the near term, in the immediate, yes it is, in terms of dealing with the immediate threat, the horrific terrorist group that attacked it in the most unimaginable ways on October 7th.  Is it more secure for the long term?  That’s a different question.  Because the fundamental question we have to ask ourselves is – and Jai mentioned this – how do we make sure that the cycle one way or another doesn’t repeat itself, whether it’s a year from now, five years from now, or 10 years from now?

I think there’s an extraordinary opportunity before Israel in the months ahead to actually once and for all end that cycle.  And it’s because there are some new facts that didn’t exist before when there were efforts to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, starting with the fact that virtually every Arab country now genuinely wants to integrate Israel into the region, to normalize relations if they haven’t already done so, to provide security assurances and commitments so that Israel can feel more safe and more secure.  At the same time, there are genuine efforts underway led by Arab countries to reform, revitalize, revamp the Palestinian Authority so that it can be more effective in representing the interests of the Palestinian people and could be a better partner for Israel in that future.  And there’s also, I think, the imperative that Jai mentioned that’s more urgent than ever:  to proceed to a Palestinian state, one that also ensures the security of Israel and makes the necessary commitments to do so.

If you put all of that together, you have an integrated region where people are actually working together for the common good, a region in which Israel is secure in ways that it’s never been before, and where the number one threat to its security as well as the security of many of us – just alluded to in the last question, Iran – is isolated along with all of its proxies.  That future, that path is there, it’s clear, it’s hard, it’s complicated, but it’s real.

The alternative is an endless repetition of the cycle that we’ve seen year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation.  It’s incumbent upon all of us who have relationships with and responsibility for different countries in the region, things that we bring to the table ourselves, to make the hard decisions, do the difficult things to actually make that path clear, real, and one that – whose attraction is overwhelmingly powerful.  I think the more we’re able to do that and the more we distinguish between that path and the alternative, the greater the chance we’ll actually see movement in that direction.

I’ll say just very quickly on Ukraine, I think you’ve heard throughout this conference, including by the fact that we have an extraordinary delegation from the United States Congress here – Republicans, Democrats, Senate, House – that there is enduring support for Ukraine, and that’s not just from the United States, it’s from country after country in Europe and well beyond, for a whole variety of reasons, starting of course with the aggression that the Ukrainians have suffered, but also because that aggression has gone to the very principles at the heart of the international system that each of us has a stake in preserving, and that’s not going away.

So there’s a tremendous determination on the part of dozens of countries to do two things.  First, to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to deal in the immediate with the ongoing Russian aggression; but second, to put Ukraine on a path where increasingly in the months and years to come it’s able to stand strongly on its own two feet militarily, economically, and democratically.  That is the strongest possible rebuke to Putin.  It’s the strongest possible rebuke to all those who would seek to undermine Ukraine.

And I’ll just conclude with this:  The real lesson to be drawn from what we’ve seen – including, as you rightly said, Russia tearing up and then spitting on the Budapest Memorandum, among many, many other agreements – is that this aggression against Ukraine has been an absolute strategic debacle for Vladimir Putin and for Russia.  Russia is weaker militarily, it’s weaker economically, it’s weaker diplomatically.  Europe has ended its energy dependence on Russia in the space of two years.  Ukrainians are more united than they’ve ever been, including against Russia, which was not the case certainly in 2014 – not desirable, but it’s the result of Russia’s actions – and certainly since 2022.  We have the NATO Alliance, a defensive Alliance with no intent of ever attacking Russia, only there to defend its members, that is now stronger and larger.  All of this a result of actions that Russia has taken, precipitating the very things it said it wanted to prevent.

So I think as those lessons are digested, not to mention the horrific losses that Russia has suffered as a result of Vladimir Putin throwing its young men into a meatgrinder of his own making, I think the more those lessons are digested, the more you’re going to see that this is not repeated.  But that requires all of us to maintain the solidarity that we’ve demonstrated with Ukraine, a solidarity that is important not just for Ukraine, but for all of us.  The stakes couldn’t be higher.

So my belief, again, listening to everyone here over the last couple of days, talking to our members of Congress who are with us, is that not only is that support there, it will be sustained, and Ukraine will succeed.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Secretary.  Minister Baerbock.

FOREIGN MINISTER BAERBOCK:  Well, I guess the question from Iran was for us.  So the question was, why do you not follow the example and list them as terrorists, in a terrorist sanction regime, the Revolutionary Guard?  We have discussed it quite often, but the quick answer is because I’m defending rule of law, trying without any double standards.  And our legal situation in the European Union – and you can like it or not, but this is how – in which context we are working – in our European legal system, we have a sanction system for listing under terrorism if terrorism occurs in another country, especially in the European Union.  It was after the attacks on the U.S. on the 9th of September.

So we need a legal ground to list them.  So far, we do not have the evidence and proof that there have been these terrorist attacks in the European Union.  There were different cases.  It’s a different legal system in the U.S.

But – and this is important for me because I hear this argument again and again – this is not because we shy away with regard to the Revolutionary Guard or the crimes against women,  youth, civil society, its own population.  No.  We use the instruments we are having as a European Union to defend human rights.  And we set up for the first time in history of the European Union a sanction systems because of human rights violation.  And for me this is even stronger.  In the past, it was the same with Daesh and the crimes against Yezidi women, yeah?  They have been brought to court not slaughtering women, not saying these are the worst sexual violence crimes you commit, but under terrorism.

I think this is wrong.  We have to name the crimes, and the crime is targeted directly to women, directly to human rights.  We say we sanction you because of what you have done to you shooting in your eyes, killing your friends, killing your sisters.  And it’s the same effect.  And this it comes all down to me – for me, politics, it’s not about symbolic action.  It’s about what matters for the people.

And under the sanction system, human rights sanctions from the EU, Revolutionary Guard – we named them – cannot enter the European Union.  We have frozen their assets.  So the result is exactly the same what the U.S. has done under the terrorist sanction system.  So if you’re asking, do we act as a result in the same way?  Yes, we do, but we call it human rights sanction system because these are the worst human rights violations you can see.

And this comes also back to the other question about symbolic politics or what matters in reality.  We would have been at a total different stage if, after the 7th of October – this was a question from Italy – after the 7th of October, we could have had a common resolution.  We were in Cairo at the so-called peace summit together with different countries, many Arab partners, and also from the European Union.  We tried to fix a text where we would say, okay, after these horrible crimes of the 7th of October, there could be the momentum now for whatever generations have dreamt of:  a two-state solution pathway.  But in order to do that, we have to guarantee that the 7th of October never happens again to Israel and we have to guarantee that Palestinians have the security to live in peace and security for them.

Unfortunately, those meeting there together, not everybody was ready to name the 7th of October what it was:  a terrorist attack from Hamas on Israeli people.  And this is why we passed this momentum.  I regret it, but this is how life is.  So now again we have to work again if we now, after four months where we see that the current situation only brings misery for everybody, if we can regroup again.  And this is why what we have described before, for us it’s so important to work together as European Union, as the U.S., with Arab partners to find what we need:  guarantees that Israelis can live forever in security; that the 7th of October can never happen again; and the same counts for Palestinian people – it has to be an irreversible path towards a two-state solution.  And this is our job which we have to do right now, and we can only do it together with the different partners.

Neither the U.S., definitely not Germany, but also not one Arab country alone can go this path.  We have to group and unite together for the peace in the Middle East.  (Applause.)

MODERATOR:  Inshallah, as they would say in the Middle East.  One —

FOREIGN MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  So I’ll just take a minute.

MODERATOR:  One minute, yes.

FOREIGN MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  I think a very large number of countries, especially of the Global South, believe that terrorism shouldn’t be countenanced or justified.  But they equally strongly believe that a two-state solution should not be delayed.  These are not choices.  These are both musts.  And unless we are able to address both these issues, we are not going to really solve the problem.

MODERATOR:  Well, thank you all.  I know that we’ve gone over time, so apologies for that.  And thank you to the audience.  (Applause.)

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