Euronest Co-President: Nagorno Karabakh remains divisive issue
Energy and security, a stronger role for parliamentary democracy and civil society as well as support to economic reforms in the EU’s Eastern partner countries have been the focus of the second Euronest parliamentary assembly meeting concluded yesterday in Baku. A press release from the European Parliament said resolutions had been passed on all these issues, as well as one calling for proper healthcare for Yulia Tymoshenko.
“This session was proof that we have been drawing lessons from our experience and was a sign of common effort of all partners to make the session a success,” said Co-President of Euronest and Ukraine’s former foreign minister Boris Tarasyuk.
Nagorno Karabakh was “one of the most dividing issues in this parliamentary assembly“, said the other Euronest Co-President, MEP Kristian Vigenin. He lauded the ability of Armenia and Azerbaijan to sit at the same table despite their difficulties, adding: “What we have seen in this session is a very European approach, and I am proud of it.”
While expressing hope that the conflict will “not last forever“, Mr Vigenin pointed out that Euronest was not the “format” intended to solve bilateral conflicts, and placing this issue high on the agenda would only split members. “We can only strive to provide more trust, understanding, channels of dialogue,” he said.
Tarasyuk stressed that even though he understood and respected the feelings of Azerbaijan as the host of the session, a multilateral assembly could not afford to concentrate on issues that are not equally important for all sides. He mentioned that other countries also had issues they could insist on bringing up, such as Transnistria for Moldova, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia for Georgia.
“Unfortunately the Soviet Union has left us this very sad heritage and the problems in the Eastern neighbourhood are the direct consequences of this,” added Tarasyuk.
The Euronest parliamentary assembly adopted five resolutions where MEPs and MPs of Eastern partners:
- warn about common energy security threats;
- call to strengthen the role and place of parliaments to resist more robustly future challenges to democracy;
- call for more support for economic approximation of Eastern partners;
- urge the empowerment of civil society;
- call for Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to be provided proper healthcare (an urgent resolution).
The next ordinary session of the Euronest parliamentary assembly, due to take place on 28-29 May 2013 in Brussels, is expected to adopt a key report on security challenges in the region. (ENPI Info Centre)
EIB conference to discuss Eastern Partnership for Growth
Enhanced and successful cooperation between the Eastern Partnership countries and closer cooperation with the European Union will be the focus of a conference hosted by the European Investment Bank (EIB), Eastern Partnership for Growth, due to be held on 24 May in Vienna.
A press release said the conference would cover three main topics: regional economic prospects and priorities, local private sector development and infrastructure for economic development.
In the sessions, panelists will discuss the role of the banks to provide funding to corporates and SMEs in order to foster local private sector development. The speakers will identify the specific infrastructure needs for the region as a facilitating factor for economic growth and how to step up project development and implementation.
The EIB supports the EU Neighbourhood Policy in the Eastern Partner Countries by financing projects of significant EU interest. Its current lending mandates and facilities add up to €5.3billion in Russia and the Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and subject to future Council and European Parliament Agreement, Belarus).
This mandate is for projects of significant interest to the EU in transport, energy, telecommunications and environmental infrastructure, and as of mid-2009 has been extended to cover also loans for SMEs via banks in Eastern Partnership countries within the framework of the Joint IFI Action Plan. (ENPI Info Centre)
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is an instrument that allows the EU to tailor its support to the ambitions, needs and aspirations of its partners, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said today in Baku addressing the session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, which he described as “a tool to advance democratisation and to exchange best practice among parliamentarians from partner countries and and EU Member States.”
He told MEPs and parliamentarians from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine that “making the values of liberty, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law a central part of our partnership we wish to extend the area of stability and security to the Eastern part of the continent.”
Füle said he was pleased to see representatives of Armenia’s parliament among the participants and deplored the absence of their Belarusian counterparts, adding:“I am guided by the long-term vision of a democratic and prosperous Belarus, free of political prisoners and strongly anchored in a common space of European values.”
Füle emphasized that the EU’s plan to increase its assistance to the partners based on the so called ‘more for more’ principle was not for Southern neighbours only, in the wake of the Arab Spring, but applied to the Eastern partners as well.
“We want to assist our partners in completing political and economic reforms and adopting the European model of development that will guarantee long term stability,” the Commissioner said.
Euronest’s input is much needed for the progress of the Eastern Partnership, both for the implementation of agreed objectives and for the assessment the results, said Štefan Füle.
He also highlighted the need for a stronger dialogue between civil society and the authorities, which is now being maintained in the framework of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, as well as through the regular structured dialogue between civil society and governments, launched in September 2011.
To maintain the momentum of the Warsaw Summit, the EU intends to establish informal Eastern Partnership Dialogues that would help strengthen links with partners and “when appropriate, to deepen sector cooperation,”the Commissioner said. He described these dialogues as “an instrument of political steering” that would strengthen sense of ownership of the Eastern Partnership on the side of the partners.(ENPI Info Centre)
EU and Ukraine initial Association Agreement, including free trade area
The text of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including provisions on the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), was initialed on 30 March by the chief negotiators on each side.
A press release said: “In this context, Chief Trade Negotiators from both sides confirmed their agreement, reached on 22 December 2011, on the substance of the DCFTA, undertaking to complete the legal verification of the text, including technical annexes and protocols.”
The chief negotiators were acting upon the instructions of the EU’s and Ukraine’s leaders, who announced at the EU-Ukraine Summit in December 2011 that they had finalized negotiations on an Association Agreement aimed at establishing political association and economic integration between the EU and Ukraine.
Both sides expressed their common commitment to undertake further technical steps, required to prepare conclusion of the Association Agreement.
This Agreement will replace the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement, in force since 1998, as the contractual basis of EU-Ukraine relations.
Last month, in a press release issued after meeting the Ukrainian Energy Minister, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Štefan Füle recalled that the signature and the ratification of the Association Agreement would depend on political circumstances in Ukraine, notably in relation to respect for common values and the rule of law. (ENPI Info Centre)