The Inter-Parliamentary Conference focuses on the EU common foreign and security policy and the current developments of the Eastern Partnership

06 September 2013, Last updated at, 14:53 EEST
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author: O. Posaškova

The Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy opened in the Seimas. It focuses on the strategies and priorities of the EU common foreign and security policy, the current developments of the Eastern Partnership and the promotion of democratic values.

The participants of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference were welcomed by Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania; Vydas Gedvilas, Speaker of the Seimas; and Elmar Brok, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament. Prof Benediktas Juodka, Chair of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Artūras Paulauskas, Chair of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence, also addressed the opening session.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė stressed that security and well-being were indivisible. "And that is why I firmly believe that the signing of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine as well as the initialling of agreements with Moldova and Georgia at the Vilnius Summit this coming November would not only advance closer trade and economic relations, but would contribute to building a European continent that is secure, stable and prosperous. It would also reaffirm the credibility of Europe," said the head of state of Lithuania. She underlined that in the 21st century we could no longer discuss only conventional threats. "The conflicts that are taking place in the world today have many sides to them – with information, environmental, energy, humanitarian, and religious aspects among many others. If we want peace, stability and prosperity, we cannot ignore any of these aspects. We must stand ready to deal with crises caused by the use of chemical weapons, water shortage and cyber attacks," said Dalia Grybauskaitė. She observed that it was necessary to find common agreement to address the highly complicated causes of modern conflicts.

Vydas Gedvilas, Speaker of the Seimas, stated that even though peace had been dominating the greater part of Europe for nearly seven decades while relations between the countries had been based on law and mutual trust, other regions of the world, unfortunately, face quite a different reality. "Recent developments in North Africa and the Middle East serve once again as a reminder to us of how important it is to have an effective common foreign and security policy, seeking to contribute to peace, stability, democracy, human rights and the spread of common social and economic progress in this region that is of crucial strategic importance for us," said the Speaker of the Seimas. In the opinion of Vydas Gedvilas, our Eastern partners also need effective engagement of the European Union. They are still stuck in geopolitical crossroads and they could make use of the EU strategic support in making key historical choices. "I am certain that only a strong, integrated and effective EU external policy can contribute to positive changes in North Africa or the Middle East at this historically crucial and difficult period of time. I also hope that we will manage to reach a common position on key issues related to the Eastern neighbours while our efforts will be crowned with success at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius this November," said the Speaker of the Seimas in his welcome address to the participants of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference.

Prof Benediktas Juodka, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that by supporting political, economic and social reforms in the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood and strengthening relations with the neighbouring countries, the European Union contributes to developing a safe neighbourhood opening up new opportunities. “We have to join our efforts and work together in order to make the Union’s common foreign and security policy more active and able to create a safer and more democratic environment for the people. The extremely difficult situation in our Southern neighbourhood deserves special attention. The continuing unrest in Egypt and the dramatic and unpredictable situation in Syria, I have no doubt, will be fully discussed in our debates,” said Prof Benediktas Juodka in his opening remarks.

Artūras Paulauskas, Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defence, said that today Europe faced many challenges in connection with security and defence. “Therefore [...] we should work together to find the most effective ways to develop smooth cooperation between NATO and the European Union, and we should seek each other’s advice on how to develop and strengthen our joint capabilities in order to successfully overcome cyber, energy and other new potential threats,” said the Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defence. Artūras Paulauskas drew attention to the declining defence spending, which negatively affected our defence capabilities and weakened the defence industry.

Speaking about the Eastern Partnership, Elmar Brok, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, noted that the situation was not the best. He said, however, that the door was open for all Eastern Partnership countries but they needed to meet certain conditions. Elmar Brok stated that the Eastern Partnership Summit would be important for the whole of Europe.

The Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the EP also talked about the situation in Syria and Egypt. He emphasised that the situation in Syria was shocking and that killings had been going on for two and a half years and that the international community failed to find a solution. Elmar Brok asserted that the United Nations could not allow to use weapons of mass destruction and that it should be clear that this usage would entail response. In his opinion, the matter of military intervention must be further debated and a clear message should be sent to the international community.

More information is available on the website of the parliamentary dimension of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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The 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius

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