During the meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on 19 March in Brussels, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius stressed that Lithuania would be ready to cooperate effectively with the European External Action Service during the period of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
“I am confident that this cooperation will be successful, we have had examples of such cooperation even before the Presidency. We would also like to be informed about your plans in advance and find out during which events the Presidency will have to replace you in the second half of this year,” Linkevičius said.
In the run-up to the Presidency of the EU Council, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister already replaced Ashton and co-chaired a meeting of the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council in October 2012, as well as one of the events at the Summit of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños, CELAC) in January 2013 in Chile.
The head of the Lithuanian diplomacy also discussed major EU foreign policy issues, first of all, the preparation for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November. Linkevičius underlined that if the partners would demonstrate readiness, it would be necessary to complete negotiations on association and free trade agreements prior to the Summit, and to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
“The European Union should seek political association and economic integration with the Eastern Partnership countries as soon as possible, so that these countries could follow the EU rules, rather than be limited to alternative projects. We also need to decide what else to offer these Eastern Partnership countries after the signing of the association and free trade agreements, so that we could adequately respond to their readiness to take a step toward joining the European Union,” Linkevičius said.
The Lithuanian Foreign Minister thanked the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for devoting constant attention to the Eastern Partnership countries and sending a message that the Neighbourhood Policy was an EU priority and that the EU took into consideration, and appreciated the efforts to move towards the EU.