Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ashton Chairs meeting of Foreign Minister of the Eastern Partnership

Chair's conclusions: Eastern Partnership

Foreign Ministers Meeting

1. On 23 July 2012 the third meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Eastern Partnership was held in Brussels.

2. The meeting was chaired by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and attended by representatives from the EU Member States, the European Commission, the six Eastern European Partner countries (hereinafter the Partner countries), the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The European Commission was represented by the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. The Partner countries were represented by Deputy Prime Minister Iurie Leanca of the Republic of Moldova, Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze of Georgia, Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian of Armenia, Sergei Martynov of Belarus and Konstantin Gryshchenko of Ukraine and Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev of Azerbaijan. The EU acceding state Croatia also attended as an observer.

3. Representatives of the Civil Society Forum presented to Ministers the views of the Forum on the implementation of the Eastern Partnership.

4. Participants discussed the Eastern Partnership Roadmap to the autumn 2013 Summit released on May 15 by the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and adopted a joint statement on the subject.

5. Participants discussed a range of concerns about the situation in certain partner countries related to the values and principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law on which the Eastern Partnership is based.

6. Participants discussed the progress achieved so far in the bilateral track of the Eastern Partnership. As regards political association and economic integration, the EU Ukraine Association Agreement has been finalised, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Negotiations on similar agreements with the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Armenia are well advanced, while negotiations on an Association Agreement with Azerbaijan are also under way. As regards mobility of citizens, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine are already implementing Visa Liberalisation Action Plans. A dialogue with Georgia to draw up a similar Action Plan has recently been launched. Negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements are under way with Armenia and Azerbaijan, and a similar offer has been extended by the EU to Belarus. Amendments to the Visa Facilitation Agreements with the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine have been negotiated and signed in view of further facilitating the issuance of visas to their citizens.

7. Participants also discussed the development of the multilateral track of the Eastern Partnership. They noted the work done under the guidance of four thematic Platforms, in particular the launching of cooperation in new areas such as: public administration reform, transport and migration and asylum. They also reviewed the ongoing Flagship Initiatives.

8. Participants highlighted the recent adoption of the Eastern Partnership Integration and Cooperation Programme (EaPIC) which offers additional financial support amounting to €130 million for the years 2012-13 to countries that make significant progress in reforms for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

9. Participants welcomed the first meeting of the new informal Eastern Partnership dialogues, which took place in Chisinau on 5th June 2012 and laid the foundations for a new format of consultations for the further development of political and sector cooperation between the EU and partners, in the spirit of the Warsaw Summit.

Source:Council of the European Union, Brussels, 23 July 2012

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