DUBLIN, June 21 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said here on Thursday said Ireland will not be abandoned in Brexit talks.
In his address to a joint sitting of the Irish parliament on Thursday morning, Juncker said, "I am strongly against any temptation to try to isolate Ireland and not to conclude a deal on Ireland. Ireland has to be part of the deal."
Juncker's remarks were obviously intended to assure the Irish side that their concerns on the Irish border issue will be addressed in the upcoming Brexit talks scheduled in Brussels next week.
"Ireland will come first," he said, adding that the European Union (EU) member states will not abandon Ireland for a deal with Britain in the Brexit talks.
"We wanted to make it clear again and again that Ireland is not alone. We have Ireland backed by 26 member states and by the Commission. This will not change," he said.
The Irish border issue is not an issue between Ireland and Britain but an issue between Britain and the EU, he reiterated.
Prior to his speech at the Irish parliament, Juncker held a meeting with the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, which was also attended by the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
Leo Varadkar told a joint press conference following the meeting that he and Juncker held a very wide-ranging and very useful discussion about many issues on their agenda with focus on Brexit.
He said that there are still serious divergences on the Irish border issue as well as other matters in Brexit talks as recently stated by the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
He reiterated his government's position that the withdrawal agreement with Britain must include a legally binding "backstop" so that there can not be a hard border on the island of Ireland in the future whatever circumstances may prevail and a "backstop" can not be have an expiry date.
There has to be agreement on all issues in Brexit talks, he said, adding that unless everything is agreed nothing is agreed.
He said there is not much time left if we are to conclude an agreement with Britain and have it operational by the time Britain leaves the EU next March.
Both Juncker and I agreed in our discussions that there is now an urgent need to intensify our efforts if we want to reach a deal, he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Leo Varadkar accused Britain of stalling talks on the Irish border issue and called on the British side to honor its commitments made in last December that there will be no hard border after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
"We had asked for and looked for significant progress in June. The British government has been unable to deliver on that," said the Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney earlier on Thursday.
Backstop refers to a temporary agreement between the EU and Britain that there will be no physical border infrastructure, no checks and controls along the border of Ireland and Britain's Northern Ireland after Britain leaves the EU. The Irish side insists that the backstop agreement should remain in place until a permanent solution is found.