Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group and the Eastern Partnership countries discuss the future of the Eastern Partnership
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group (V4) and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries met on April 12, 2017 in Warsaw under the Polish Presidency of the V4. This event was also attended by the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations as well as by representatives of Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom and the European External Action Service.
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.
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.
Among four Riga priorities Foreign Ministers gathered in Warsaw decided to focus discussion on the special importance of development of transport and infrastructure interconnections between the EU and EaP countries. Better connections shall contribute not only to strengthening of economic cooperation and people-to-people contacts, but also to tightening political ties.
“The removal of transport and infrastructure barriers between the Eastern Partnership countries and the European Union complements the process of bringing these countries closer to the EU, resulting from the implementation of association agreements, trade agreements and progressive visa liberalization,” the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland said.
The V4 Ministers 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. Existing visa-free regime with Moldova has proved that it brings tangible results for citizens. Ministers recognized the wish of Armenia and Azerbaijan to continue visa liberalization dialogue and expect further steps in that direction. They also expressed hope for relaunching negotiations and finalizing the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreement with Belarus and welcomed the signing by Minsk of the Mobility Partnership with the EU.
At the end of the meeting, the Foreign Ministers adopted a joint statement on the future of the EaP, which called for the intensification of sectoral cooperation, mainly in terms of connectivity.