Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and two of the European Union’s top political leaders expressed their commitment to strengthen multilateralism, protect democracy, and stand up for human rights in a video press conference on Thursday.
Specifically, the leaders said they will strive to work closely together “in international fora including the G7, the G20, and the United Nations system” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, while at the same time keeping the principles and values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and based on the EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement.
Before the joint press conference commenced, European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Trudeau met virtually to discuss the issues facing the EU-Canada relationship.
To curb the spread of the pandemic, the leaders pledged to “deepen their cooperation and exchange of information on COVID-19 vaccines including research, access, procurement and distribution.”
In terms of economic recovery, the leaders said they will support a green transition and digital transformation, promising to help small- and medium-sized enterprises adopt the necessary technologies to expand their business scope.
The trio also discussed a range of foreign policy and security issues in relation to China, Belarus, Venezuela, Russia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Sahel in Africa.
On China, they expressed concern about the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals by the regime. They agreed to cooperate more closely in tackling arbitrary detention and promoting the international rules-based system as a whole, as well as protecting their democracies against malicious cyber activities and disinformation.
“The EU and Canada see eye to eye on these issues. Specifically on China, we have serious concerns about the human rights situation in China, including the arbitrary detention of EU and Canadian citizens,” Michel said during the press conference.
Trudeau stressed on the need to protect democratic values, while thanking Michel and von der Leyen for lending their support to have Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig freed from detention in China, where they have been held on baseless charges since December 2018.
“Now more than ever we must push back against authoritarianism and isolationism while securing democratic norms,” Trudeau said.
“We agree to work together to protect our democratic system against cyberthreats and disinformation while addressing the arbitrary detention of our citizens. On that note, I want to thank president Michel and president von der Leyen for their continued and vocal support for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.”