Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel speaks on arrival for a EU Summit, at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on March 23, 2023. / © AFP
The UN did not fail but is currently rather limited in what it can do, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Thursday at the EU summit in Brussels.
According to the Prime Minister, the veto power of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including China and Russia, makes negotiations difficult. But any initiative for a peace plan is important "above all for the Ukrainian people."
Several countries, Bettel believes, play a particularly important role, and he would like to see the US President and the Chinese President sit down at the same table and work out a plan together. Bettel noted that Russia "would certainly prefer to accept a proposal backed by China." While the People's Republic has drawn up its own plan for peace negotiations, Luxembourg's Prime Minister thinks that a joint plan with the US would carry more weight. Bettel presented this proposal to UN Secretary General António Guterres, who is attending the EU summit of heads of state and government.
Guterres reportedly welcomed Bettel's input and agreed that China should not be excluded. At the same time, the UN Secretary General thinks that the international community should proceed with caution.
According to the Prime Minister, the UN should continue to push for a shared position between China and the US that would satisfy both sides. While materials and money "certainly help," ending the war is far more important. "Every day people die," Bettel said, "and we cannot forget that."
Risk of 'bipolar relations'
Above all, Xavier Bettel wants to avoid a Russian-Chinese alliance, noting that "China is both a partner and an opponent." While Luxembourg and China work together, "we cannot blindly trust anyone at the same time." On the other hand, Bettel feels that demonising China is "not right" since it is "absolutely crucial" to avoid the emergence of "bipolar relations," i.e., China and Russia against the rest of the world. For this reason, Bettel thinks it would be better for Europe to work with China, particularly to ensure that Europe has "a seat at the table" should the United States and China decide to unite as world powers.
Luxembourg has a clear stance against nuclear energy
France would like nuclear energy to be classified as green energy. Luxembourg's position is very clear: nuclear power is "neither sustainable, safe, nor quick to build." In addition, there are still questions about how nuclear waste will be handled in the future. Events such as Fukushima and Chernobyl "have clearly demonstrated what can happen when breakdowns occur."
Combustion engine ban: 'This is not a pick-and-choose situation'
Another issue, which is not officially on the agenda for this Summit, is the ban on the sale of combustion engine cars from 2035. Germany would like to revisit the issue, despite the fact that the decision has effectively already been taken. "That wouldn't be desirable," according to Bettel, who makes it clear that "we neither want to put this nor the subject of nuclear power on the agenda."
"This is not a pick-and-choose situation," the Prime Minister stressed, before adding that it would also not be ideal for the EU Council to discuss issues "that are actually the responsibility of another Council." However, if Germany is blocking the decision, "we should try to unblock." Bettel noted that Luxembourg's representation in Brussels "always takes a pragmatic approach." Nevertheless, the Prime Minister indicated that he would find it "a bit peculiar" if an issue that has already been through the entire legislative process were to be put back on the agenda.
The Brussels Summit, which will continue on Friday, is also expected to address the issue of the competitiveness of European industry.