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Visegrad Four support Eastern Partnership States

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, April 14
The Visegrad Group (also known as the "Visegrad Four" or "V4"), which unites the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, have made a joint statement expressing their strong support to the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.

They agreed that the Brussels Declaration should reflect different aspirations of partner countries, including Georgia, and offer a European perspective for the interested partners, as well as set out an ambitious agenda for the Eastern Partnership in the longer perspective.

“The V4 Ministers reaffirmed their strong support to the Eastern Partnership as a strategic dimension of the European Neighborhood Policy and a key and active factor of stability and economic progress in Eastern Europe. They call EU institutions for appropriate steps to keep Eastern Partnership high on the EU’s agenda according to the EU Global Strategy and ENP Review,” the statement reads.

The statement was made at meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group and the Eastern Partnership countries held in Warsaw on April 12.

The Ministers emphasized that the Eastern Partnership should have a clear political narrative, a new strategic vision and an architecture guaranteeing ownership of European institutions, member states and partner countries.

The V4 Ministers reconfirmed that the implementation of the Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area is the key task for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine within their relations with the European Union, and offered their support for their reform efforts.

They also welcomed granting the visa-free regime to citizens of Georgia, and expressed hope that the citizens of Ukraine would enjoy visa-free travel to the EU as soon as possible.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, also took part in the meeting.

“Georgia remains committed to becoming an EU member state through its reforms,” Janelidze said while delivering a speech.

At the invitation of the V4 presidency holder, Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, the meeting of the V4 and Eastern Partnership foreign ministers was also attended by the chief diplomats of Croatia, Estonia, Romania and Sweden, the secretaries of state in the Bulgarian and Slovenian MFA, as well as the EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and accession negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

Also in attendance were high-ranking representatives from the United Kingdom, Malta and the European External Action Service.

“We need to give the Partnership an ambitious political vision that will include concrete goals that are achievable in the near and foreseeable future. We must recognize the European aspirations and the European choice of our Eastern partners,” Witold Waszczykowski said.

“The Eastern Partnership is the only EU policy instrument towards the Eastern neighbors. We appreciate this initiative and we want to strengthen it,” he added.

The Ministers agreed that cooperation within the EaP will focus mainly on sectorial issues.

In this respect, they emphasized the importance of pursuing the implementation of all of the four Riga priorities: strengthening institutions and good governance; economic development and market opportunities; connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change; mobility and people-to-people contacts.

V4 representatives and other EU member states from the region, together with representatives from the European Commission and the EEAS, expressed their hope that, thanks to the newly created European External Investment Plan, the partner countries would also be able to benefit from the infrastructure investment. However, they noted that there is a need to invest in other European and international financial institutions as well.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group and the Eastern Partnership countries meet once a year within the framework of the Visegrad 4 Eastern Partnership program (V4EaP), which was initiated in 2011 to enhance cooperation between the Visegrad region and the countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP).

The traditional meeting of the V4 and EaP ministers, which precedes the 5th EaP summit, is scheduled to be held in Brussels on November 24.