The Council of EU adopts conclusions on the Eastern Partnership
By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, February 21The conclusion document on the Eastern Partnership was adopted by the Council of the European Union, on February 18th.
Looking forward for the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit in November 2013, the EU once again emphasized the important role of the of the Eastern Partnership in its “objective of accelerating the political association and deepening the economic integration of the Eastern European partner countries with the EU."
The document reminds the participant countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) about the basic values of the Eastern partnership, such as democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the market economy, sustainable development and good governance. The participant countries have to focus on the reforms, as the intensity of cooperation with the EU and benefiting from the upcoming Vilnius Summit will depend on the pace of reforms countries are engaged in.
“In this context, the council looks forward to the elections in 2013 in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and underlines the importance of them being held in line with international standards and previous relevant recommendations by OSCE/ODIHR.”
The European Council still calls for the progress with regards working on the Association Agreements including DCFTAs with Georgia, Armenia and the Republic of Moldova. The Council looks forward to finalizing the work on the agreements by the time of Vilnius Summit.
According to the document, the EU remains committed to the shared objective of visa-free travel and welcomes the progress made in this regard. The council emphasized the success Georgia has achieved on the way to achieving the Visa Liberalization Action Plan.
“The visa dialogue with Georgia has progressed swiftly and by the time of the summit, implementation of the future Visa Liberalization Action Plan should be under way.” The conclusion document says.
The council remains focused on the reforms in the participant countries and continues to encourage the countries and also support financially “to strengthen their administrative capacity to push forward key reforms.” The Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia have been provided with additional financial support to the reform efforts by the Eastern Partnership Integration and Cooperation Programme (EaPIC). Also, 173 million EUR will be implemented in the Comprehensive Institution Building Programme, to be launched in five partner countries.
The Council of the European Union calls on all participant countries to fully engage in the preparation of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit.