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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Estonia Feels European Union Must Give Greater Attention to Eastern Partnership


No. 57–E

At the Eastern Partnership meeting of the European Union foreign ministers in Prague, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that Eastern Partnership needs greater attention and that Estonia supports the Eastern Partners becoming as closely integrated and co-operating with the European Union as much as possible. “Meeting the goals that have been set requires an effort from the Eastern Partners as well as openness and support from the European Union. It is essential that the entire European Union be involved in advancing Eastern Partnership,” said Paet.

During the meeting, the foreign minister noted that many Eastern Partners deserve recognition for carrying out reforms and moving closer to the European Union. “We are satisfied that negotiations for free trade agreements have been started with Moldova and Georgia and will soon begin with Armenia, and we hope that these negotiations progress quickly,” he said. “We also expect for a visa dialogue to begin with Georgia and for the visa dialogues with Moldova and Ukraine to progress, and we expect more rapid developments in visa facilitation talks with other Eastern Partners,” Paet added.

The foreign minister stated that Eastern Partnership should be shaped into a concrete and comprehensive policy that is an effective and long-term instrument for helping the partner countries grow closer to the European Union. “Eastern Partnership should also be flexible enough to allow an individual approach to the partner countries,” he said. “Among the Eastern Partners there are some countries that set an example for the others in terms of reforms, and we should move forward with them more quickly,” Paet asserted.

At the meeting Paet also emphasised that Estonia would like to continue actively supporting the Eastern Partners’ EU endeavours. “The Eastern Partnership Centre in Tallinn focuses on increasing the administrative capacity of the Eastern Partners. This year we would like to train officials from Moldova, Georgia and Armenia  in making preparations for concluding a free trade agreement,” he said.

The meeting today involved the foreign ministers of the European Union presidency country Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Eastern Partnership countries. High Representative of the European Union Catherine Ashton will also participate, as will Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. Matters related to EU Eastern Partnership will be discussed at the meeting.

The Eastern Partnership countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus.

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