President of the Republic of Lithuania

European Council – important decisions for Ukraine’s future and EU security

2016-12-15

Thursday, 15 December, Brussels – President Dalia Grybauskaitė attended the European Council meeting which focused on the standstill in the process of ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement, the situation in Syria, the implementation of the Minsk agreements, new measures to strengthen EU security and defense, and migration.

The European Council has paved the way for the ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement. It approved a legally binding solution allowing the Dutch parliament to ratify the agreement. EU leaders welcomed the political support given by the Council to grant visa free travel to Georgia and Ukraine, which is expected to come into effect in the spring of 2017. President Dalia Grybauskaitė supports Ukraine’s European aspirations in all international formats.

“Together, we are moving towards a decision of vital importance to the people of Ukraine. The agreement reached at the European Council does not block the path of European integration for Ukraine. The door of Europe is and will be open to Ukraine. The efforts of the Ukrainian people and the reforms enacted with assistance from Lithuania and other countries are already producing results. It is now important not to stop,” the President said.

The EU’s economic sanctions against Russia, which are linked to full implementation of the Minsk agreements, are no longer a subject for discussion at the European Council, and a written procedure for their extension has been given a go ahead. Russian actions in Syria, which are beyond humanity, have received strong universal condemnation. Taking part in the European Council meeting was the Mayor of Aleppo, Brita Hagi Hassan, who informed EU leaders about the humanitarian catastrophe that had engulfed the city.

According to the President, the tensions created by Russia are global. Therefore, the European Union also needs a new approach to its own security.

European leaders, together with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, discussed ways of strengthening EU’s defenses without overlapping NATO. They exchanged views on the implementation of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration and discussed the Commission’s proposal to set up a 5-billion-euro European Defense Fund to finance the modernization of the EU’s military industrial base, investment in research and the development of modern defense technologies.

Increasing investments in defense, active fight against cyber-attacks and hybrid threats, efficient protection of external borders are emerging as priority tasks for the entire European Union rather than individual EU member states or regions. According to the President, Europe has started to adequately assess the threats posed by Russia, and it is taking on responsibility for its own security.

Illegal migration poses yet another challenge to EU security. The European Council reviewed the EU-Turkey deal and further measures for managing refugee flows. When the deal came into effect, the flow of irregular migrants to Europe was reduced from 1700 to 80 persons per day. To keep the flow from resurging, it is necessary not only to continue the dialogue with Turkey but also to launch new dialogues. The EU is negotiating agreements on stopping illegal migration with five African countries. They will contain a number of provisions to stop migration flows, return illegal migrants and help to improve economic, social and legal situation in these countries.

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2016.12.16 09:14

Back