Brussels (Brussels Morning) As France and the Netherlands push for a joint EU approach to a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, common ground seems hard to find, and diplomats are reporting that a decision is unlikely to be reached anytime soon.
According to EU diplomats and foreign ministers, EU member states are divided as to whether they should join the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom in refusing to send government representatives to Beijing in February in protest over China’s human rights record.
France and the Netherlands have put the motion up for debate, and it is scheduled to be discussed at the last EU leaders’ summit of this year, which takes place on Thursday. Neither country is optimistic a joint approach can be ironed out soon.
“You know as well as I do that we will not find a solution regarding the Olympic Games today or this week”, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, stated ahead of the issue being discussed between the Union’s foreign ministers on Monday.
Reuters cites EU diplomats as claiming that Hungary, China’s closest ally in the Union, would never sign off on a joint diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, but that a consensus could ostensibly be reached among the remaining 26 member states.
Austria’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, said he would support a joint EU position, but hinted at opposing the idea of a boycott. “We have a clear position on the human rights situation in China but I don’t think it is useful to let the Olympic Games artificially become a political event”, Schallenberg asserted.
Luxembourg’s Asselborn suggested a boycott could be less productive than a strong statement made in Beijing, calling on his colleagues to speak up about human rights issues while attending the Olympic Games. “I think if we speak up there on the ground, this brings more benefit than if we politicians go into hiding”, he declared.