Thursday, April 8, 2010
South Caucasus - The need to promote stability and cooperation
The main progressive group in the European Parliament reaffirmed today the need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus, given the importance of this region and the potential role that EU has in fostering further the development of South Caucasus and in the solution of its conflicts.
The EP foreign affairs committee today approved the report "The need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus."
Said Evgeni Kirilov, S&D rapporteur: "The aim of this document is to show the need for a bigger strategic role of the EU in the region and to devise an EU strategy towards it.
"The 2008 war in Georgia reminded Europe how volatile and dangerous ' frozen conflicts' can be, as well as the human and political costs of resolving them by force.
It also showed the vulnerability of investments and projects in the region aimed at diversifying Europe's energy supplies.
"The report's main focus is to suggest efficient and constructive ways of EU involvement in the resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh and the Georgian-Russian conflicts, as well as in the post-conflict rehabilitation of the region.
"The today approved document also recognizes the efforts of the three countries on their way to democratization, approximation with EU values, social and economic reforms.
It makes concrete recommendations for achieving further progress in these fields with the support of EU policies and institutions.
"The importance of the regional cooperation, the energy security issues and the development of a trade free area are also outlined in the report", Mr. Kirilov concluded.
Press release: S&D. Published on 7 April 2010
Commissioner Štefan Füle on official visit to South Caucasus
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle is visiting Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia on 6-9 April.
"Each and every of our partner countries is the master of its own success in getting closer to the EU'' stated Commissioner Füle prior to the visit. The EU is offering through the Eastern Partnership closer economic integration, deeper political cooperation through the proposal to engage in negotiations of Association Agreements with the partner countries. This important visit will provide one more opportunity to stress the EU intention to take forward the broad agenda we have developed with the three countries in the context of the Eastern Partnership.
The EaP concentrates on four policy dimensions: bi- and multilateral relations, governance and financial assistance. In terms of bilateral relations, the Eastern Partnership foresees Association Agreements including strengthened trade relations and enhanced political dialogue, whereas multilateral relations focus on energy projects. The EaP also aims at facilitating social development and creating stability, improving administrative capacities, enhancing regional cooperation by engaging with a wide range of international top and mid-level actors. The key objectives include the creation of a free trade area and gradual visa liberalization. The initiative also foresees meetings of Heads of State or Government of the EaP countries to be held every two years and yearly meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia each have an action plan under the ENP, designed to help, inter alia, their closer trade and economic integration with the EU, in particular through gradual regulatory alignment. The implementation of the action plans should also enable the countries to progressively become ready to negotiate, implement and sustain a deep and comprehensive free trade area with the EU.
The new EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative launched in May 2009 builds upon the ENP and aims at overall enhancing the EU relations with the Eastern ENP countries. The EaP has brought in particular a perspective of new enhanced bilateral framework agreements – Association Agreements - between the EU and its Eastern Neighbours, and firmly embedded possible future bilateral deep and comprehensive free trade areas in this framework. A future Association Agreement would include either establishment of a deep and comprehensive free trade area or at least an objective of establishing such a free trade area in the future once the partner country has become ready for it. In long-term, the partner countries are also encouraged to establish deep and comprehensive free trade areas among themselves.
Through the ENPI (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instruments), the EU provides financial and technical assistance to support the regulatory alignment of the partners' trade and investment related laws and practices.
Press release: European Commission. Published on 6 April 2010