“I have to welcome the closer coordination between Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, as well as their request for enhanced cooperation with the European Union. A crucial aspect of our Eastern Partnership is building links not only between the European Union and our partner countries, but also among them - among the partners themselves. And that is good. And with each of you, not only do we cooperate in the Eastern Partnership, but we also have Association Agreements, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas. These agreements are the most comprehensive that the European Union has with any other partner - with any of its partners,” High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said following the meeting with Foreign Ministers of Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in Brussels on Thursday.
He noted that the European Union should be proud that partner countries want to move closer to the European Union, and even to join it.
“Too often, within the European Union, we take for granted what we have managed to create: an area of prosperity, security and opportunity for all. Our Union is not perfect, but that membership is seen as a strategic objective for many countries is a great compliment. You know very well that the European Union attaches its utmost importance to its relations with the Eastern partners and we consider the region a priority for our support and commitment. And I am sure that today, the European Council will reaffirm this importance and our attachment,” the High Representative of the Union said.
He stressed that the implementation of key reforms is a crucial factor in further strengthening political association and economic integration between the EU and each of the Associated Trio countries. The full implementation of these agreements is key to exploit all the opportunities they offer, for example further trade exchanges, more security cooperation - and today especially in the new fields of disinformation, cyber and hybrid threats - on environment, and connectivity.
“Coming closer to the European Union will require a work from both sides. In each of your countries, you know that there are key reform areas that require swift, thorough and sincere improvements. We can only approximate legislation, to deepen cooperation, and advance on joint work if these reforms are fully enacted and enforced. We [EU] are standing by each of you respectively in these efforts and support you politically and financially,” Borrell said.
The High Representative of the Union noted that 2021 was an important year for the Eastern Partnership. The Commission is currently finalising the post-2020 agenda, which contains concrete deliverables and targets.
“Our Eastern Partnership summit will take place in December. I understand that all of us are sorry for the fact that it has [previously] been postponed, as has also happened with other summits. But in December, when this summit will take place, we will have an opportunity to set this new agenda in motion, and to agree on a common vision for the future. We are looking forward, dear colleagues, dear friends, to developing relations based on the principles of inclusivity and differentiation. Both have to be taken together and this will require flexibility from both parts. I count on you, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, to play a full and constructive part in this. And I am also looking forward to have the opportunity, once the virus allows us to travel, to visit you soon and to share with you these concerns and objectives,” Borrell summed up.
Today, the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova make a joint visit to the European institutions for the first time as an Associated Trio to express a united position on further European integration.
EU summit will be held in Brussels today, which will, among other issues, consider further strategic relations with Russia, given its aggressive policy towards its neighbors and the occupation of some of their territories. The imposition of sectoral economic sanctions against the Lukashenko regime in Belarus is to be considered as a separate issue.
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