Linkevičius: Let’s not be afraid to set ambitious goals for Eastern Partnership
On 15 May in Brussels, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius participated in the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council, which focused on the Eastern Partnership, the situation in the Horn of Africa, the EU-Africa relations, and the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence.
Foreign Ministers discussed preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit to be convened in Brussels on 24 November 2017. Linkevičius expressed his pleasure at the decision taken a few days ago to grant visa-free regime for Ukraine, but stressed that “A review of policy achievements will not suffice if we wish to ensure success of the Eastern Partnership Summit – we also need to define a vision of the Eastern Partnership’s future and, in particular, to support partners that implement the Association Agreements”.
As Foreign Ministers pointed out, granting visa-free travel to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova had been considered as a long-term goal until recently. Thus, there is no need to be afraid of setting ambitious long-term goals. “In the run up to the November Eastern Partnership Summit, the Eastern Partnership’s political importance and its benefits for partners, the EU and member states need to be clearly communicated to EU citizens”, said Linkevičius.
Foreign Ministers discussed the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence. They welcomed significant progress that had been reached in this area over half a year. However, the EU still has some work to do, especially in the fields of structured cooperation, crisis management, and battlegroups. Linkevičius said that the recent cyber-attacks had reinforced the need to review EU capacities to respond adequately to new challenges, such as hybrid and cyber threats, illegal migration and terrorism. “It is important to create a positive environment, allowing us to work together to strengthen our security and the EU’s capacities without wasting the taxpayers’ money and duplicating NATO’s own structures,” said the head of Lithuania’s diplomacy. Ministers will further discuss this issue at the Defence Ministers’ meeting on 18 May.
When discussing the preparation of the 5th EU-Africa Summit in Ivory Coast on 28-29 November, which will focus on youth, Ministers highlighted the importance of developing the donor-recipient relationship into a true partnership, which would be based on mutual commitments. Moreover, concrete actions should be taken on both sides.
Foreign Ministers also highlighted the importance of job creation including by ensuring a favourable climate for trade and private investment and of promoting social and political inclusion of youth in Africa.