Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers met in Brussels

MINSK, 14 December 2010. Yesterday, on December 13th, Foreign Ministers of the EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative met in Brussels. The meeting brought together foreign ministers (or their deputies) of the Eastern Partnership participating countries, as well as representatives of the 27 EU Member states, EU Council, the European Commission, European Parliament and other EU institutions. The meeting was chaired by the EU’s High Representative Catherine Ashton.
In her conclusions, Ashton underlines that the Eastern Partnership “is based on commitments to the principles of international law and to fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to market economy, sustainable development and good governance”.
The Ministers also emphasized the “strategic importance of the Eastern Partnership as a way to deepen and strengthen relations between the EU and the Partner countries, to accelerate political association, further economic integration and approximation towards the European Union and to support political and socio-economic reforms of the Partner countries”.
During the meeting the Ministers “expressed their wish that other financial sources be found to complement the EU budget contribution to the EaP”, and in this context “noted with satisfaction improved coordination of the work of International Financial Institutions and other donors in trying to achieve a more coherent and holistic approach to the EaP”.
“The Ministers expressed support for increased involvement of civil society in the technical work of the multilateral track of the Eastern Partnership in cooperation with the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum”.
Besides, the Ministers held an “initial discussion on possible areas where more could be done within the Eastern Partnership, notably: improving sectoral cooperation; facilitating the participation of the Partners to the EU programmes; strengthening cooperation in the area conflict prevention and resolution; consolidating the role of civil society. Particular emphasis should be given to easing the mobility of certain categories of people such as students, researchers, academics or business operators”.
On Belarus, the EU reminded of the EU Council decision last October that “subject to progress in Belarus in the areas of democracy, human rights and rule of law” the EU is ready “to take steps towards upgrading contractual relations with Belarus”.
Background
The EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative was officially launched in May, 2009. In May, 2011, Budapest will host its 2nd high-level summit. The initiative involves the EU and its 6 Eastern European neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
In the frameworks of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument the EU continues to pledge its assistance to the partner countries. Belarus will receive EUR 10 million this year, EUR 16 million next year, EUR 26 million in 2012 and EUR 37,7 million – in 2013. It will benefit from EUR 90,2-million assistance in total in four years.
Additional information
Chair’s conclusions upon results of the ministerial meeting
Detailed overview of the meeting’s results
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DELEGATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO BELARUS