The European Commission has adopted a special €365 million support package “in response to the urgency of mobilising assistance contributing to the stabilisation and development of Ukraine.” This package will help the country’s transition and boost the role of civil society, promoting and monitoring democratic reforms and inclusive socio-economic development in Ukraine, a press release said.
The programme is conditional, subject to progress in reforms in the following areas: the fight against corruption, public administration, constitutional reform, electoral legislation and justice reform. First disbursements are expected to take place after the signature of the Financing Agreement by the European Commission and the Ukrainian government.
The EU is not only closely watching events in Ukraine and expressing its readiness to support it, but is also delivering in deeds, said European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. “With today’s assistance package we are encouraging and supporting the Ukrainian authorities to continue with reforms and in the process of inclusive national development,” said Füle, adding the package will also support the European Agenda for Reform, recently discussed with the Ukrainian authorities.
“Now is the time to show an even stronger, more determined, and resolute commitment to the Eastern Partnership”, Commissioner for enlargement and European neighbourhood policy Štefan Füle said in Prague today, in his opening remarks to the Prague High Level Meeting marking the fifth the anniversary of the Eastern Partnership (EaP).
No one can doubt the EU’s firm commitment to providing strong political and financial backing to Ukraine, said Füle identifying the crisis in Ukraine as the most serious crisis since 1945. We will always support and stand by those who are subject to undue pressures. We have risen to the challenge in Ukraine and reacted rapidly. Together with Ukraine, Russia and the US, we took part in quadrilateral talks on 17th April in Geneva.
At the same time, he added, we have taken a firm and united stance following the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, including sanctions against individuals responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“Events today in Ukraine show that the relevance and necessity of the Eastern Partnership are clearer today than it has ever been. Because we are all going through an unprecedented period of change, and in times of change we need to work together and support each other”, stressed EC President Barroso in an address read by Füle on his behalf.
The Commissioner spoke at the international conference held at Czernin Palace in Prague to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the founding Prague Eastern Partnership Summit and discuss its prospective for the future. “5 years after its inaugural Summit here in Prague and despite the hurdles and challenges it was and still is forced to overcome, the EaP has survived and in many cases, flourished. The reason is quite simple: EaP is an evolving policy”.
Füle underlined the significant progress made over the past 5 years: our exchanges have greatly intensified; a multilateral track has been established; sector cooperation has been developed; stakeholders are playing a key part in our work.
“The signature of the political provisions of the Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with Ukraine on 21st March has set the ball in motion”, stressed the Commissioner. By June we expect signature of the AA/DCFTAs with Georgia and Moldova, rendering the process of political association and economic integration irreversible.
Differentiation is what makes the EaP unique. Negotiations on a Strategic Modernisation Partnership and on the Association Agreement are advancing with Azerbaijan. On Belarus we remain committed to our stated position. A reflection is underway on the scope for future EU-Armenia relations. Our mobility agenda is advancing. On 28th April, Moldovan citizens will be able to proceed to short term travel to the EU without the need for visas, something unthinkable a few years ago. Progress has been achieved in negotiations on the Visa Liberalisation Action Plans with Georgia and Ukraine.
With regards to funding, Füle recalled nearly €2.5 billion available for cooperation programmes with partners in 2010-2013 and a further € 4.1 billion leveraged from European Financial Institutions through the Neighbourhood Investment Facility.
For future of the EaP, he mentioned, among other:
- greater differentiation in bilateral relations.
- the importance that partners deliver on their own ambitions.
- the need to be better equipped to react to crises.
- engagement to be maintained at multilateral level and increased with broader society.(EU Neighbourhood Info)
Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum releases Policy Memorandum on NATO security policy concerning Russian military intervention in Ukraine
The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum has released a policy memorandum on NATO security policy concerning Russian military intervention in Ukraine. According to the memorandum, diplomatic measures and sanctions must be accompanied by strategic deterrence to protect NATO members and to support independence of NATO neighbours. Priority steps should include strategic plans to address swiftly worst-case scenarios of escalation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and a clear commitment by NATO to support the democratic development of Ukraine, and to prevent military conflict in Europe (NATO members and NATO’s neighbours). The members of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum have called upon NATO and NATO members to prioritise support for democracy, human rights, human security, and the rule of law in the region, and engage with the governments of Ukraine, Republic of Moldova and Georgia with a view to agreement on new security pacts between NATO and Eastern Partner countries in order to safeguard fundamental freedoms, democracy, stability, and the rule of law.