Linas Linkevicius: Eastern Partnership will be a priority of Lithuanian presidency of EU Council

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said the Eastern Partnership will be one of the priorities of the Lithuanian presidency in the area of the EU’s foreign policy. The Lithuanian official made the statements in an interview for IPN News Agency that was published on July 1, 2013.

“In our eastern neighborhood, we want countries that would develop in conditions of security, would have a strong economy and would abide by the European values. When integrating into the EU, Lithuania had to cover a reform path similar to the one that is now covered by the EaP countries. That’s why the experience and support provided to the partner-countries can be very valuable for these countries in their aspirations to strengthen democracy and to come closer to the EU,” said the Lithuanian official.

“The Eastern Partnership does not represent an exclusive initiative of Latvia. This is an instrument of the policy that involves the EU and the partner countries. That’s why the objectives of the Third EaP Summit that will take place in Vilnius on November 28-29 are planned and set in concert with the EU and all the partner countries. As to the bilateral format, the goal is to sign the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, between the EU and Ukraine, to close the negotiations on the Association Agreements, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreements, with Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia, and to initial these agreements as well as to make progress in the talks with Azerbaijan. We also plan to advance in simplifying and liberalizing the visa regime. The given agreements will bring considerable practical and political changes and in the life of the eastern partners and in the relations with the EU.”   

Another priority of the Lithuanian presidency is to reassert the EU as a model of openness and security. “When we say ‘security’, we refer to good relations with the neighbors and these neighbors do not generate dangers and are powerful from economic viewpoint. Namely for this reason we will tend to ensure as close relations of the EU as possible with the Eastern partners. During our presidency, we will also tend to more progressively control the external borders of the EU and towards better coordination of the external dimension of the EU’s energy policy, towards strengthening the general security and defense policy that will be ensured by closer cooperation with the partners and by appropriately responding to the new security challenges. ‘Opening’ means that Lithuania will continue the EU policy on enlargement and will contribute to free trade with such strategic partners as the U.S., Japan, Canada and other countries,” the Lithuanian foreign minister said in the interview for IPN titled “Moldova is closer than ever to achieving goal set for Vilnius”.

Today, July 1, 2013, Lithuania takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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