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Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania: Eastern Partners Require More Serious Attention From European Union

25.06.2013

No 211-E

During their meeting in Kaunas today, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius approved a joint declaration on the future of Eastern Partnership. “Eastern Partnership requires ongoing attention and support from the European Union. We would like for our eastern neighbours to integrate and work as closely together with the EU as possible,” Paet emphasised.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that Eastern Partnership holds strategic importance for the European Union, and the EU must form Eastern Partnership into a concrete and comprehensive policy that is an effective means for partner countries to grow closer to the EU. “Eastern Partnership should also be flexible enough that we can approach each partner country individually,” he said.

In the declaration, they emphasise that they also expects positive developments from the Eastern Partnership summit taking place in Vilnius at the end of November. “It is necessary to give Eastern Partners clear views of the future within the framework of the summit, and recognise their progress thus far,” Paet noted. “We would like for the association agreement and free trade agreement with Ukraine to be signed at the summit. We would also like to see the free trade agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia initialled,” he added.

In the declaration, the ministers noted that it is essential to continue negotiations for an association agreement with Azerbaijan. They also emphasise that Belarus should be involved in Eastern Partnership as much as possible, but for this to happen it is essential to demand that Belarus release and rehabilitate all its political prisoners and end repressions.

In addition to the topic of Eastern Partnership, the foreign ministers also discussed EU financial matters in Kaunas. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that in the financial sector, EU member states should focus on the sustainability of budgetary policy, restoring competitiveness, and implementing the rules that have been agreed upon. The ministers also expressed satisfaction over Latvia’s impending accession to the euro zone. “Latvia shares fundamental values with the euro zone, and therefore the accession process should go smoothly,” said the Estonian foreign minister.

During their meeting, the foreign ministers of the four countries also discussed the priorities of Lithuania’s upcoming EU presidency and EU defence matters.

The meeting of the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany is an annual tradition, during which important foreign policy issues are discussed. The next meeting will take place in Estonia next year.

The Eastern Partnership countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus.

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