Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt and former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti denounced Russia’s recent role in eastern Ukraine and called for a more stringent European response to the crisis during a discussion Monday.
“We are a century after the big European catastrophe of 1914,” Bildt said during his introductory remarks in front of a filled Tsai Auditorium. “And what is happening is that the specter of war is once again haunting Europe.”
The discussion was part of the Summit on the Future of Europe, a series of events hosted by Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, the Berggruen Institute on Governance, and the WorldPost, a Huffington Post product.
Monti and Bildt focused on the role the European Union should play in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Going beyond just sanctions, Bildt called for a more active European policy in Ukrainian affairs.
“In particular, [policy should] help Ukraine to reform its economy, get rid of its vast corruption, to end its insane dependence on heavily-subsidized gas, and to preserve and strengthen the democratic system of Ukraine,” Bildt said.
For his part, Monti spoke to the value of the enlargement of the European Union.
“I, as an Italian citizen would feel today, in terms of security, in terms of [fighting] organized crime, in terms of health safety, etc. much more at risk if all of the area between, say, Slovenia and Estonia were…not yet firmly rooted in the European Union, and of course, I should add, in NATO.”
An economist by trade, Monti served as the Italian prime minister from 2011-2013, leading a technocratic government in response to Italy’s financial crisis. Monti is currently a lifetime senator in Italy.
After serving as Sweden’s prime minister from 1991-1994, Bildt played a crucial role in resolving the conflict in the Balkans and was the first special envoy for the UN Secretary General there. He has been Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2006.
The crisis in Ukraine has revolved around the question of borders, as pro-Russian separatists in the country have fought to redefine the boundary between Russia and eastern Ukraine. The conflict between the rebels and the Ukrainian government reached a ceasefire on September 5.