On 19-20 March in Brussels, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius presented Lithuania’s Presidency priorities to European Commissioners for Trade, Development and Humanitarian Aid, as well as to Members of the European Parliament, and met with leaders of the two largest political groups in the European Parliament.
“Lithuanian Presidency’s main goal in the field of international trade - promotion of open and fair trade, and further business environment enhancement for European and Lithuanian exporters. We will seek to boost economic and trade ties with Eastern Partnership countries, and strengthen trade with the EU’s strategic partners, such as the U.S.A. and Japan,” Linkevičius said at the meeting with European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister invited the European Commissioner for Trade to participate in the Eastern Partnership Business Forum, which is to be held in Vilnius this November. Linkevičius expressed hope that an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and Free Trade Agreement would be signed in Vilnius, if Ukraine would fulfil all the necessary preconditions by May. The Summit is expected to announce about the completion of negotiations on free trade agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Armenia.
“The agreement with Ukraine is very important, therefore, also within the EU we must agree to pragmatically assess the achievements of Ukraine and offer tangible incentives adjacent to preconditions,” Linkevičius said.
Lithuania’s Presidency will devote special attention to future negotiations on free trade agreements with the U.S.A. and Japan, as well as to the enhancement of conditions for trade with Russia and China. The Lithuanian Foreign Minister will chair the EU foreign ministers’ meeting on trade, to be held during the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference on the Indonesian island of Bali in December.
At the meeting with EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, the Minister stressed that the EU, supporting democracy worldwide, should use more effectively the valuable experience of economic and institutional reform accumulated by such member states as Lithuania. The Lithuanian Foreign Minister also invited the Commissioner to discuss this issue in more detail during the European Development Days, to be organized by Lithuania’s Presidency of the EU Council.
At the meeting with Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Linkevičius stressed that Lithuania would promote better coordination of the EU and its member states’ response to crises worldwide. According to Linkevičius, the EU needs to aim at a more efficient way to link development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, especially stimulating beneficiary countries to take measures to increase resilience to future crises.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister discussed progress of the Eastern Partnership countries also during the meetings with Wilfried Martens, President of the European People’s Party, and Hannes Swoboda, Chair of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.