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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius: Association Agreements Are Beneficial for Both Partner Countries and the European Union

03.12.2013

On 28 November, immediately before the European Union Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that both the European Union and Ukraine should be naturally interested in intensifying relations and reaching an association agreement, with free trade being the best logical development in this regard.

Paet expressed hope that it is still possible to consider Ukraine’s future and come back to signing an association- and free trade agreement.

According to Foreign Minister Paet, the agreements are primarily beneficial for the Ukrainian people and the development of their state by providing the best opportunity to establish democratic structures, modernise the economy, and, by association, increase general wellbeing. “We continue to  hope for partnership with Ukraine. The European Union’s proposal for signing the agreement – when all sides are ready – will stay in force,” he noted.

The foreign minister added that the association agreement with Ukraine is the most ambitious partnership agreement in the history of the European Union. “The European Union will continue the dialogue with Ukrainian authorities and opposition as well as with representatives of civil society and the private sector in order to inform all stakeholders about the opportunities accompanying the agreement,” he stressed.
Relations between the EU and Ukraine go back to the partnership and cooperation agreement that came into force in 1998. Negotiations regarding the new association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine began in March 2007. The negotiations were officially concluded at the high-level EU-Ukraine summit on 19 December 2011.

The approval of European Union association- and free trade agreements with Moldova and Georgia in Vilnius and those countries’ integration with Europe is extremely positive, according to the Estonian foreign minister. “The European Union’s Eastern Partnership is based on the assumption that removing barriers to trade and expanding the free trade area, which are supported by democratic structures and a transparent legal system, is beneficial for all sides,” stated Paet. “For Estonia, it is very important that the free trade area be expanded to Moldova and Georgia, who have worked very hard for that purpose. Additionally, it is important to move quickly towards visa freedom so that people can move from state to state more easily,” he added.

At the same time, Paet asserts that it is very important that the agreements with Moldova and Georgia that were approved in Vilnius are also signed as soon as possible.
The heads of state and ministers of all 28 European Union member states as well as those of all 6 Eastern Partnership states, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, participated in the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

The European Union’s Eastern Partnership was created in the 2009 Prague summit. The second summit took place in Warsaw in September 2011.

Through this initiative, the European Union supports reforms in partner countries to promote the development of democracy, rule of law, human rights, and free market economies. At the same time, the cooperation provides opportunities for the partner countries to integrate into the European economy, intensify political relations, and enable greater freedom of movement for its people. The next Eastern Partnership summit will take place in Riga in 2015.      

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