Thursday, April 24, Prague - President Dalia Grybauskaitė is attending a high level meeting of the heads of state of EU and Eastern Partnership countries to mark the 5th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership programme. At the meeting, the leaders reviewed the achievements of the first five years of implementing this programme and discussed how to update it in view of the newly emerging challenges in the EP countries and the entire region.
Taking part in the meeting in Prague also is President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia, President Heinz Fischer of Austria, President Ilham Alijev of Azerbaijan, President Miloš Zeman of the Czech Republic, President Giorgi Margvelashvili of Georgia, President Bronisław Komorowski of Poland and President Nicolae Timofti of Moldova, as well as Vice Prime Minister Jan Björklund of Sweden and Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia of Ukraine.
"The current situation in our neighbourhood poses a threat to the whole of Europe. Evident military aggression, political and economic pressure is used to prevent our Eastern partners from choosing freely their own future. All this is very familiar to Lithuania - we have passed through this difficult path of state building with the help of Europe. Today Europe is ready to assist its Eastern partners to proceed along the path of democratic reforms which will strengthen independence and self-reliance of these countries and ensure the wellbeing of their people. The stronger democracy in our Eastern neighbourhood, the more secure we are," the President said.
According to the Lithuanian head of state, over five years of implementing the programme cooperation between the European Union and its Eastern partners has obviously advanced bringing real benefits to the people in Eastern Partnership countries and in the whole of Europe. Successful implementation of projects in transport, energy, education and research spheres have increased opportunities to develop business, intensify trade and strengthen people-to-people contacts. The President underlined the need to continue promoting ties with these countries and explore practical ways to gain reciprocal benefits from such relationship.
One of the key accomplishments of the EP programme is that three of the six countries participating in the programme are ready to sign Association Agreements with the European Union. The signature of these agreements will promote trade between the EU and its Eastern partners, offering to the latter more opportunities and instruments to carry out the necessary political, economic and social reforms.
Agreements with Moldova and Georgia are planned to be signed this coming summer. Ukraine signed political provisions of the Association Agreement in March and the free trade component is planned for signing after the presidential election in this country at the end of May.
The Prague summit also addressed the situation in Ukraine. Attention was called to the importance of taking a unified stand by all EU member states in response to Russia's aggressive actions in this country. The EU will continue to support implementation of major reforms in Ukraine. It vows to allocate 11 billion euros for this purpose in the coming years.
During bilateral conversations with the heads of state of other countries, the President discussed regional security and energy cooperation issues. President Grybauskaitė and her Georgian and Moldovan counterparts reviewed these countries' preparations to sign Association and Free Trade Agreements. Meetings with the Polish President and Swedish Prime Minister focused on the ongoing joint energy projects, with Ukraine's Foreign Minister - on the security and economic situation in this country. The Lithuanian head of state and the Presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria talked about the necessity of a unified response to Russia's actions.
The Eastern Partnership programme was inaugurated in 2009. The EU's six eastern neighbours - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - joined the initiative which is aimed at deepening political and economic relations between the European Union and its Eastern neighbours, helping the latter to implement important reforms and also ensuring a secure and stable EU neighbourhood.
Last updated 2014.04.24 16:30Back