“After Lithuania and other Baltic and Central European countries acceded to the EU, the new borderline of the Union moved eastwards. This is exactly the place where the great global powers continue to wage the battle of interests today, as they did in the past. Their spheres of influence overlap here, resulting in the processes we have witnessed in the run-up to the Eastern Partnership Summit,” Benediktas Juodka, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in his opening address at the Meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees on Foreign Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union and the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, Parliaments for democracy: towards more ambitious global cooperation, held at the Seimas today.
The parliamentary dimension event, held on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit, is naturally focused on EU Eastern Partnership matters and on Ukraine’s accession to the Community in particular.
Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, said that assessment of the progress on Eastern Partnership should take into account the achievements attained, lessons learned, and actions to be taken in future. “Ukraine has come closer to Europe within the past six months of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, and this is obvious from the activeness of the Ukrainian civil society, which had been rather silent over the past decade,” Mr Linkevičius said. According to the Minister, even in the case of a failure to sign the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement in Vilnius, results would still be obvious, as the dialogue with Ukraine would continue. He expressed heartfelt gratitude to Pat Cox, Member of the European Parliament monitoring mission to Ukraine, and admiration over the extensive work during the mission, consisting of 27 visits to Kyiv. This, in his opinion, cannot but produce results.
With reference to the lessons learnt in the implementation of the Eastern Partnership Programme, Mr Linkevičius remarked that the most important lesson was to adapt a win-win approach. According to the Minister, when Armenia expressed its wish to join the Customs Union, partners in Russia thought this was a success for one side and a loss for another. However, this is incompatible with the EU approach. The EU will always have enough strategic patience and willingness to develop a dialogue with its partners.
The opinion that some countries tend to see their relations with neighbours through the prism of power and pressure was also voiced by Petras Auštrevičius, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas. In his opinion, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have in recent months become a genuine geopolitical battlefield, an area for competition of two alternative integration spaces – the EU and the Eurasian Union, initiated by Russia. He commended the progress made by Moldova and Georgia on their track to the EU, with one phase of it, namely, the initialling of the Association Agreements, successfully completed in Vilnius.
Igor Corman, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, assured the audience that Moldova was looking forward to strengthening deeper relations with the EU and that the final objective of the country was fully-fledged EU membership. “As we initialize the text of the Association Agreement, we will more clearly identify other benchmarks that lie ahead in Moldova’s journey towards a closer economic and political partnership with the European Union. Immediately after the initialling, Moldova will begin organizing to implement and enforce major elements of the agreement. In particular, we will be addressing the potential impacts of the DCFTA,” said the Speaker of the Parliament of Moldova.
The photos and video records of the Meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees on Foreign Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union and the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy Parliaments for democracy: towards more ambitious global cooperation are available here.
Asta Markevičienė, Public Relations Unit, tel. +370 5 239 6202, e-mail: [email protected]