The representatives of the Eastern Partnership countries participating at the Meeting of the Chairpersons on Foreign Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union and the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy titled “Parliaments for democracy: towards more ambitious global cooperation” shared their experience on the road towards European integration.
Ana Guţu, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, believes that the Association Agreement, which is going to be concluded at the Eastern Partnership Summit will establish an adequate legal framework for necessary advancement of the relationship between Moldova and the European Union to a much more developed stage of cooperation, manifested in political association and economic integration.
Ms Ana Guţu, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova
According to Ana Guţu, the system cannot change overnight. Moldova is still learning to be a democracy and has just got rid of everything that resembled authoritarianism. “Our politicians share deep conviction that Moldova belongs to the value-based European space and can pursue progress with the support from the European Union. Our main objective is economic and political integration of Moldova into the EU,” said A. Guţu.
The Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova is firmly convinced that the Eastern Partnership Summit will accelerate domestic reforms and promote democracy in the country. According to Ana Guţu, their ambition, after the Agreement is initialled, will be the signature and ratification of the Agreement as soon as possible, until the mandate of the incumbent European Commission and the Government of Moldova expires.
Tedo Japaridze, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, stressed in his speech that Georgia was committed to its road towards Europe and Euro-Atlantic integration, and that not only membership but values and principles were important to them, “We want to become mentally European and to remain also a Georgian – preserving and protecting our historic and cultural legacy, traditions and habits”.
Mr Tedo Japaridze, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia
According to Tedo Japaridze, agreements made at the Vilnius Summit will be of particular importance and that it is necessary to achieve results and to bring something home so as to prove to society that becoming a European country is a matter of their wish rather than a geographic identity. “We are after anchorage, of the type that an Association Agreement entails, which is economic, political, normative, infrastructural and, not least, identity-driven”, said the Chair of the Georgian parliamentary Committee.
At the same time, the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia emphasised that Georgia’s European aspirations did not mean any hostility towards Russia, “wanting to be in Europe is not an anti-Russian statement, but more of a statement about Georgia: competitiveness, rule of law, respect for cultural diversity, solid multilateralism, consensus driven policy, a reliable social safety net, a social partnership culture, respectable institutions, and a commitment to human rights”.
Artak Zakaryan, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, noted that the European Union was one of Armenia’s most vital partners assisting in the implementation of wide-scale reforms in the areas of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Armenia aims to continue its comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership with the EU.
Mr Artak Zakaryan, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia
“From the outset of the Eastern Partnership initiative and even before, we have stated and continue to state that we aspire to have the closest possible and widest possible relations with the EU, and to be close to the EU. Armenia continues to be committed to the European values and principles. […] The decision made by the Armenian authorities in this historical period is a process towards the prospects of economic development, as well as energy and strategic security of the country. Rapprochement with Europe means for us the continuation of the process of deep reforms in our political and administrative systems, which are directed at the stable development of the country,” Artak Zakarjan said.
Anatoly Lebedko, a representative of the Belarusian opposition and Chairman of the United Civil Party, expressed his regret that there were only a few dozens of kilometres between Vilnius and his constituency, but a considerable distance with regard to the human rights situation. He said that this short geographical distance was long in terms of the attitude towards people, citizen and voters.
A Lebedko acknowledged the importance of the decisions of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit: “We must point to the door which is being open; it is of huge importance to the partisans of change in Belarus. It is not a Ukrainian domestic matter that is being considered in Kiev today. It is the future of the post-Soviet area, with Belarus there, that is being decided in Ukraine today.”
His ideas were supported by another participant of the debate, David Bakradze, the Leader of the Parliamentary Minority of the Parliament of Georgia, Member of the United National Movement political group, who said, “All Eastern Partnership countries are interconnected. […] Our success, I hope, will be the success of Armenia. And Ukraine’s success is the success of all of us. We are all interconnected. We should all be successful and I hope that the Vilnius Summit will be a step to this success, the step which will help all of us to further implement the idea of Europe, which is whole and free”.
For the photos and videos of the Meeting, see here.
Saulė Eglė Trembo, Public Relations Unit, tel. +370 5 239 6203, e-mail: [email protected]