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Borrell delivered the best and worst diplomatic speech of 2022 in 3 days

Published on 17 October 2022
Updated on 19 March 2024

I write this blog after receiving comments from many colleagues on my blog post ‘Why is Borrell’s speech historical‘ (speech from 10 the 10th of October). 

Last week, Josep Borell delivered one of the best and one of the worst diplomatic speeches in the space of 3 days.

On the 10th of October, he delivered a speech to EEAS ambassadors with a clear message and call for European diplomats to engage with people worldwide. He called for humility and respect for others.

On the 13th of October, Borrell addressed future European diplomats at the opening of the European Diplomatic Academy with almost the opposite message:

Europe is a garden. …..  Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden…… Keep the garden, be good gardeners. But your duty will not be to take care of the garden itself but [of] the jungle outside.  

Joseph Borell’s speech at the openning of the European Diplomatic Academy (Bruges, 13 October 2022)

Using such a metaphor is very damaging for European diplomacy in this extremely delicate period of world history.

I hope that Borrell and EEAS will find a way to apologise for this very unfortunate metaphor of a garden and a jungle, and ensure that the October 10 narrative of engagement, humility, and respect for others takes centre stage in current EEAS diplomacy, and in particular in the training of future European diplomats.

It is not just a matter of diplomatic tactics but also of saving a great European tradition of enlightenment (the centrality of humans, respect for human dignity, and realisation of human potential).  If Europe fails to save the enlightenment heritage, it will be a failure not only for Europe but also for the entire world.

When it comes to the ‘garden metaphor’, Voltaire’s Candide is more relevant than ever before:

We must cultivate our own garden.

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