On 18 February, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius attended the EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels. Linkevičius called on member states to further motivate the most active Eastern Partnership countries to move towards European integration after the completion of the Association Agreements and Free Trade Agreements.
“Some partners have made their European choice. Thus the Association Agreements should not be seen as a ceiling, but rather as a very first step towards further progressive developments. Partners’ expectations are very high and our response should be clear – our door is not closed in the longer run,” Linkevičius said.
In the run-up to the Eastern Partnership Summit, which is due in Vilnius at the end of November, the Foreign Council today adopted the conclusions that highlight once again the importance of the Eastern Partnership, as well as aims to accelerate political association and deepen economic integration. The conclusions also take into account the European choice of some of the Eastern Partnership countries and indicate the extent of the cooperation with these countries depends on the speed of reform.
According to the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, the major priority of the forthcoming Vilnius Summit is the signing of the Association Agreement, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, with Ukraine, if the country continues appropriate implementation of reforms, and the finalization of the negotiations on Association Agreements and Free Trade Agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, which will be not less ambitious. Moreover, Linkevičius believes that it is very important to start applying the free trade provisions as quickly as possible, before the ratification of the agreements.
“The Vilnius Summit is also an important milestone setting a longer term perspective for the Eastern Partnership. We should answer the question of whether or not our resources are adequate and incentives attractive enough and whether they ensure the “more-for-more” principle to partners in our relationship,” Linkevičius said.
The Foreign Affairs Council also decided to extend arms embargo on Syria for three months. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister called on the EU to take into account the long-term security in the region and the safety of the Syrian people.
“Only a political solution can be a way out of current situation. We are not sure that the violence will stop if we open the arms supply,” Linkevičius said.
The Ministers also decided to launch an EU training mission in Mali, discussed the Middle East peace process and closer cooperation between the EU and Iraq.