On 27 June 2013 High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton briefed the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the most recent discussions in the Foreign Affairs Council, including the ones on the prospects of Vilnius Summit.
Aston stressed the intention of the Council to initial the Association Agreements (AAs) including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) with Armenia, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova at the Vilnius Summit, which according to her is a realistic timeline. Furthermore, she emphasized that signing the AA with Ukraine at the Summit is still possible provided Ukraine fulfils the set benchmarks. The discussions of engagement in Belarus, especially with the civil society, will be continued on the way to Vilnius.
HR/VP Ashton stressed that the EaP Foreign Ministers Meeting on 22 July should demonstrate the importance attached by the EU to its partners in the East and also allow them to be more involved into the preparations of the Vilnius Summit at an early stage thereby encouraging a sense of joint ownership for the Summit. Furthermore, the meeting should provide for a strategic and ambitious debate on the post-Vilnius era.
The full intervention of HR/VP Catherine Ashton is available here.
The first Eastern Partnership Ministerial Conference on Culture is taking place in Tbilisi on 27-28 June. The conference, hosted by the Georgian government, in the presence of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, brings together Ministers of Culture from across the region and the EU, a press release said.
The event, due to be attended by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, is an opportunity to assess the impact of the Eastern Partnership Culture programme in the region. This initiative involves the EU, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Since 2011, it has provided €9 million in support for cultural cooperation projects and €3 million for strengthening the work of public authorities.
The conference will underline the need for reform in cultural policies and better inter-Ministerial cooperation to take more account of the broad contribution of culture to growth and stability in the region. Commissioner Vassiliou will highlight the opportunities created by the next phase of the Eastern Partnership Culture programme, starting in 2015, as well as the new EU Creative Europe programme, due for launch in January 2014. (EU Neighbourhood Info Centre)
On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) a student essay competition is conducted on the topic “The Black Sea Region 20 years from Now”.
Submissions should be written in English and be between 2.500 and 3.000 words. The contest is open to all students of accredited universities of the BSEC Member States (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Rumania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine) aged 18-30 years.
The deadline for the submission of essays is 22 August 2013.
The winners (one per country) will be invited to attend the 42nd General Assembly of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in Tbilisi on 26-27 November 2013 (travel and accommodation expenses covered) and the winning essays will be published as a special issue of the Journal “Letters from the Black Sea” by the Black Sea Universities Network.
More information is available here.