EU top diplomat denies 'jungle' remark was racist
Brussels, Oct 19: The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday apologized for offending people with remarks that were criticized as racist.
Borrell said Europe was "a garden" and most of the world "a jungle" that "could invade the garden" at the inauguration of the European Diplomatic Academy in Bruges, Belgium, last week.
His remarks caused a stir both online and diplomatically. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday summoned the head of mission at the EU delegation to the UAE for an explanation.
The UAE Foreign Ministry said the remarks were “inappropriate and discriminatory," the country's state news agency (WAM) reported.
Borrell apologizes for 'jungle' metaphor
On Tuesday, Borrell explained in a blog post that his reference to "jungle" was to increasing examples of countries using force, intimidation and blackmail or behavior that stood at odds with agreed international norms.
"The growth of this lawless world and disorder is what I meant when talking about the 'jungle,'" Borrell wrote.
Borell added his reference to "jungle" had no racist, cultural or geographical connotation. He said unfortunately, the "jungle" is everywhere, including today in Ukraine.
It was important to take into account the rise of lawlessness around the world and that was his message to students, he explained in his post.
Borrell is the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, and said that some had misinterpreted the metaphor as "colonial Euro-centrism."
"I am sorry if some felt offended," he said, adding that he felt Europe was often too Eurocentric and needed to get to know the rest of the world better.
Borrell also acknowledged that some really disliked the use of the "garden" and "jungle" metaphors because it has been used by US neoconservative politicians and said he was "far from that school of political thought."