On Sep. 8, the long-time Russian ambassador to the European Union (EU) Vladimir Chizhov had a farewell reception in Brussels, ignored by all EU member states and representatives of the European External Action Service.
During the reception, Chizov – whose tenure was described by one EU diplomat as “hostile and destructive” and having caused “much harm to EU relations” – gave a five-minute speech loaded with sarcasm and criticism.
He blamed the EU for burning diplomatic bridges, raised a glass to “whatever is left of EU-Russia relations,” and talked about “prehistoric days when there was such a thing as the British Presidency of the Council” – a reference to the U.K.’s exit from the EU.
He also quoted a “prominent European figure” who purportedly told him years ago that “the EU never fails to surprise.”
“It’s easy, as I said this morning to EU representatives, to burn bridges. And much more difficult to rebuild them. This is something, I hope, that will be kept in mind here,” said Chizhov, without once mentioning Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine.
He added that he could “claim an entry to the Guinness Book of Records” having participated in 30 out of 32 EU-Russia summits dating back to 1997, with the last one held before Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
In a further swipe at the EU, Chizov criticized the bloc for expressing the desire to speak with one voice.
“The first thing they did was to create at least three new positions,” he said, adding “I had to witness that the EU, after carefully constructing comprehensive structures of cooperation and partnership, was eager to demolish them in a matter of days or even seconds, without so much of a second thought.”
In his closing remarks, Chizov said that he is leaving with feelings of sorrow and frustration.
“I leave with a clear conscience,” he asserted. “I‘ve done my best to preserve and promote Russia-EU cooperation. But remaining as a living monument to a strategic partnership is not an easy job, I must admit.” Following his speech, Chizov received applause from attendees representing non-EU states.
He is expected to run in the Russian regional elections on Sep. 11 and become a member of the Federation Council from the region of Karelia, adjoining Finland.
Chizov’s successor is yet to be announced.
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