Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: European Union Eastern Partners Need Attention Even When EU’s Southern Neighbourhood is Experiencing Rapid Changes
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that the European Union should be working with its Eastern Partnership countries, even at a time when the events going on in the European Union’s southern neighbourhood are demanding a lot of attention.
“Eastern Partnership is in our interest and requires the continued attention and support of the European Union,” the Estonian foreign minister emphasised at the meeting of the European Union Eastern Partnership foreign ministers in Brussels. “In Eastern Partnership countries we see progress in making reforms and integrating with the European Union, which deserves to be recognised, as well as troubling political developments. All this demonstrates that there is still much to be done,” he stated.
The Eastern Partnership countries are Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. “We are very pleased with the developments in Moldova and if they continue, at the next Eastern Partnership summit we’ll have a reason to move to the next level, the European Union perspective,” said Paet. “It is essential that the countries making more progress are given more opportunities, so that the ‘more for more’ policy is implemented,” he explained. “Therefore we hope for progress in the Moldova visa dialogue,” noted the foreign minister.
Urmas Paet feels that the Eastern Partners and their integration process also require more public attention. “Greater visibility and the interest of the public are encouraging, so the European Union could think about how to make Eastern Partnership more visible through public diplomacy,” he stated.
Paet said that in future efforts, greater attention should be paid to co-ordinating work between European Union member states and Eastern Partnership states and creating synergy. “The European Union Eastern Partners are priority countries for Estonia’s development co-operation and one way in which we support them is through the Centre of Eastern Partnership, which focuses on increasing the administrative capacity of our Eastern Partners,” Paet explained.
“It is also very important to move in the direction of visa facilitation and visa freedom with Eastern Partners, as well as making co-operation in politics and various sectors more effective,” he added.
Helen Ennok, press spokesperson, Estonia’s Permanent Representation to the EU
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