EU’s Eastern Partnership programme and cooperation issues discussed at the Lithuanian Parliament

28 November 2013, Last updated at, 17:39 EEST
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author: O. Posaškova

“When Lithuania and other Baltic and Central European countries joined the EU, the Union's new borders shifted significantly towards the East. The world's most powerful countries have been fighting for their interests in this area, and spheres of influence have been changing – we have been watching these processes throughout the preparation for the Summit,” said Benediktas Juodka, Chair of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, who today at the Seimas opened the meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, Parliaments for Democracy: Towards More Ambitious Global Cooperation.

The event, which is taking place on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit, is clearly going to focus on Eastern Partnership matters, - especially Ukraine’s joining the Community.

Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, said that when evaluating the implementation of the Eastern Partnership programme, we had to evaluate the results, lessons, and future plans. “During the Lithuanian Presidency, Ukraine has come closer to Europe. It is a fact that no-one can deny, because it is supported by civil activity which had been slightly weaker over the last decade,” the Minister said. According to him, even if Ukraine decided not to sign an association agreement in Vilnius, we would still have results because the dialogue with Ukraine would continue. He expressed great thanks and admiration to Pat Cox, representative of the European Parliament's observation mission in Ukraine, for his intense work – 27 visits to Kiev. “Such effort simply can't be fruitless,” Mr Linkevičius stressed. Speaking about the lessons learned during the implementation of the Eastern Partnership programme, Mr Linkevičius noted that the most important lesson was the formation of the view that both countries could be winners. The Minister was convinced that a situation when Armenia wanted to join the Customs Union, and partners in Russia considered this a victory for one side and defeat for the other, didn't suit the EU's mind-set – the EU would always have enough patience to continue dialogue with partners.

Petras Auštrevičius, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, said that some countries were looking at relations with neighbours through the lens of power and pressure. According to him, in recent months Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have become a geopolitical battlefield, with two competing integration areas – the EU and Russia's Eurasian Union. He welcomed Moldova and Georgia’s progress in their path towards the EU. One of its stages – initialling association agreements – will be successfully completed in Vilnius.

Igor Corman, Chair of the Moldovan Parliament, who read a report at the event, assured that Moldova was ready to strengthen relations with the EU, and that the country’s ultimate goal was EU membership. “By initialling an association agreement, we will clearly see what challenges Moldova will have to overcome in order to have closer economic and political cooperation and partnership with the EU. As soon as the agreement is initialled, we will begin implementing its main elements, especially focusing on issues that may arise after the signing of a Free Trade Agreement,” he concluded.

The Meeting’s live stream is available on the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council Parliamentary Dimension website.

Photos and videos can be found here.

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From 28.11.2013 to 29.11.2013
The 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius

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