TALLINN, May 25 (LETA) Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said at the fourth Summit of the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries in Riga on Friday that we can do more to support the approach of eastern partners to the European Union.
The door of the European Union should be open to more ambitious eastern partners, depending on their progress.
The Prime Minister said that the European Union must demonstrate determination in the worsened security situation, as well as take specific measures in order to support the sovereign choices and territorial integrity of eastern partners. “We need to help those countries to keep their freely chosen course. Nobody should force countries to restrict their sovereign choices.”
The Prime Minister confirmed the position of Estonia that once Georgia and Ukraine have complied with technical requirements, they should obtain the right for visa-free travel. “At yesterday’s dinner, I spoke at length with both the Prime Minister of Georgia and the President of Ukraine and assured that Estonia supports them in complying with the criteria needed for visa-free travel. There cannot be any subjective or political reasons to refuse visa waiver.”
Prime Minister Roivas said that the European Union must consider wider positive effects of visa waiver. According to the Prime Minister, it is therefore necessary to recognise the work that has been already done and stay with the agreed action plan. “It is important that the partners know what specifically needs to be done to fill the gaps, and can be assured that once they fulfil the requirements, they reach visa waiver,” Roivas added.
According to the Prime Minister, the association agreements concluded with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova are important milestones in developing cooperation between these countries and the European Union. “Their full implementation is crucial now and both the associated countries and the support of the European Union should focus on that,” Roivas said and added that Estonia considers it extremely important that the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) signed between Ukraine and the European Union would be implemented from the beginning of 2016.
Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, who attended the Summit, said that it is important for the European Union to continue with the development cooperation and the partners with the reforms. “The Summit provided a clear message the complicated security situation does not make us change the course, but rather to follow it in a more determined manner. Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have undertaken the complex task of modernising societies and they received assurances that the European Union’s support is strong and stable,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs said. Pentus-Rosimannus confirmed that Estonia continues to support the Eastern Partnership countries in terms of reform experience and development aid. “We know that reaching visible results requires efforts and the reforms are not easy, however, without them, the quality of life does not improve. Estonia is ready to offer its expertise,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed.
The Centre of Eastern Partnership in Estonia is one of the leading training centres and think tanks targeted at eastern partners in the European Union. Its current priority is to advise the associated countries. In cooperation with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, important activities include promoting public administration, supporting the reforms of various sectors, and enlivening contacts with civil society.
Besides the heads of state and government of the European Union, the Summit of Riga was attended by either leaders or representatives of six partner countries of the European Union Eastern Partnership Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus. The leaders of European Union institutions and several European Commissioners also participated in the event.