A celebratory summit marking the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), a cooperation framework of the EU with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine has ended without a joint declaration.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Azerbaijani foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov was dissatisfied that the declaration did not mention “territorial integrity”, pointing to his country’s position regarding the breakaway region of Nagorno Karabakh.
Georgia and Ukraine also expressed their concerns regarding the joint statement, saying that it does not acknowledge their “European aspirations”, but eventually decided to accept the wording as it refers to the conclusions of previous EaP summits.
Instead of a joint declaration signed by all foreign ministers, the text of the May 13-14 summit in Brussels was approved only by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the meeting’s chair.
Despite ending without a joint statement, however, EU leaders and their EaP counterparts highlighted the progress made by the partnership and reinforced their commitments towards the so-called 20 deliverables for 2020.
“We have put in place ambitious association agreements and deep and comprehensive free trade areas with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and citizens of these countries also benefit from visa free travel for short stays in the EU. More than 125,000 loans have been provided to businesses in the Eastern Partnership, of which half are in local currency, and we have contributed to the creation of over 30,000 jobs in the region,” EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on May 14, adding that the six countries combined have become the EU’s tenth trading partner.
“Ten years on, there is more Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in the EU, and – I believe – there is more EU in all of your countries than ever before. We are not only neighbours,” EU Council President Donald Tusk said in his speech.
While the EaP is not an enlargement tool for the European bloc, EU commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström did not rule out that some EaP countries – presumably Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova – becoming EU member states in 10 years’ time.
Photo: European Commission