P.Resident-elect Joe Biden said the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland must remain open regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union, as Irish Foreign Secretary Biden has suggested “taking a risk to the peace process” personally . “
The president-elect told reporters Tuesday that a closed border between Ireland, an EU member state, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, “is just not right, we have to keep the border open”. The dividing line was heavily militarized during the Northern Ireland Conflict or “Problems” and opened after the signing of the historic Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998. Now that the UK is leaving the EU, the prospect of border controls is a reality again. “We want to make sure we have worked too long to get Ireland up and running and I’ve talked to the UK Prime Minister, I’ve talked to the Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister]I’ve talked to others, I’ve talked to the French, ”said Biden.
Biden’s remarks came after Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney told TIME that he believed the president-elect would not hesitate to use a controversial trade agreement between the UK and the US as a lever to keep peace. If Britain’s exit from the EU undermines the Good Friday Agreement, Coveney said, the UK’s coveted trade deal with the US “just won’t happen”.
UK and European negotiators are currently embroiled in trade talks after the UK completed its transition from the bloc in January. It is about the land border between the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. If talks collapse without a deal, the prospect of a hard border on the island to control customs – a move that governments in Ireland and Northern Ireland believe could ignite sectarian tensions.
A controversial bill tabled by the UK government in September would override the original conditions for the UK’s withdrawal that excluded customs controls along the Northern Irish border. In September, the EU leadership declared that passing the law would jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement and violate international law.
Coveney, speaking to TIME on November 20, predicted that Biden’s administration would “be very critical of any government or anyone who undermines the peace process on the island of Ireland … that would be a real problem for the US and for Joe Biden personally . “
Read more: Brexit has revived the prospect of a united Ireland. Could it actually happen?
In a memo released during his campaign, Biden, who has his roots in Ireland, showed the Irish government support for Brexit. Coveney said the Democrat’s election victory was a sign to Irish politicians that “we have many friends in Washington who see themselves as guarantors of the peace process in Northern Ireland”.
President Donald Trump was a strong supporter of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and saw the Brexit vote as an expression of the same political zeal that originally brought him into office. During his 2016 campaign, he went so far as to call himself. “Mr Brexit. “The prospect that Trump would offer Britain a cheap post-Brexit bilateral trade deal with the US encouraged Johnson’s tough stance on the Brexit negotiations.
Coveney said Biden could better understand the Irish perspective. The President-elect “knows and understands the complexities of Irish politics better than most in Washington and has very personal ties.”
However, he said he didn’t think Biden wanted to support Ireland over Britain. “People shouldn’t mistake Joe Biden’s pro-Irish for being anti-British in any way,” he added. “I think Joe Biden as President will be very much for Britain. I think the special relationship between the US and the UK will continue to be a special one, but I also think that the special relationship between Ireland and the United States will be strengthened. ”
Biden has made many references to his Irish heritage and his great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt left the town of Ballina, County Mayo for America 170 years ago during the Irish Famine. The city of Ballina celebrated its election victory by erecting a mural of the elected president. Biden visited the city in 2016 as vice president and Coveney said he was sure he would come back as president. “I know he wants to visit the communities with which he is directly connected,” says Coveney. “He has already said that he will visit Ireland during his presidency but we obviously want to encourage him to come as early as possible.”
Coveney said Ireland’s influence within Europe could be of particular benefit to the US as Biden must seek to rebuild relationships after four years of the Trump administration’s policy of putting “America first” and dismantling multilateral alliances. “Ireland can be a bridge, both politically and physically, to building this transatlantic relationship in a very positive way,” says Coveney.
Read more: “Trump was a kind of awakening.” The EU’s top diplomat says that Europe’s relationship with the US has changed forever
While Ireland had a relatively good relationship with President Trump, Coveney said the president’s position on international relations, and particularly international bodies, was “extremely worrying.” Coveney added that he hopes the US will “return to the forefront of collective global endeavors” on so many collective global challenges, from fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to rebuilding international trade or climate change.
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