EU foreign ministers underline support for Eastern Partnership
EU foreign ministers meeting in the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels today have underlined “the particular role of the Eastern Partnership to support those who seek an ever closer relationship with the EU.” The Council conclusions said the EaP, as a specific dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, aimed at accelerating the political association and deepening the economic integration of the Eastern European partner countries with the EU.
Foreign ministers took stock of developments and discussed the way forward to the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit in November 2013. They emphasized the need for the forthcoming elections in 2013 in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to be held “in line with international standards and previous relevant recommendations by OSCE/ODIHR.”
Welcoming the substantial progress in the negotiations of Association Agreements, the Council reiterated its commitment to the signing of the Association Agreement with Ukraine, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA), “as soon as the Ukrainian authorities demonstrate determined action and tangible progress in three key areas, possibly by the time of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit.” Those three areas are:
- ensuring the compliance of elections with international standards and appropriate follow-up actions for the 2012 elections;
- addressing the issue of selective justice and preventing its recurrence;
- implementing the reforms set out in the jointly agreed Association Agenda.
The signature could be accompanied by an opening for provisional application of parts of the Agreement, the Conclusions said.
The Council called for progress over the Association Agreements including DCFTAs with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, “with a view to their finalisation by the time of the Summit.” It also welcomed the progress underway in the Association Agreement negotiations with Azerbaijan.
The Council also reiterated the EU’s “commitment to the shared objective of visa free travel in due course provided that the conditions for well managed and secure mobility are in place and welcomes the progress made in this regard.” It took stock of the progress made by each of the partner countries over the visa dialogue, reiterated its readiness to launch negotiations on a visa facilitation and readmission agreement with Belarus and called on the EU Member States to continue making “optimal use of the existing flexibilities offered by the Visa Code.” (EU Neighbourhood Info)