Eastern partnership summit
Delivered in Plenary - 27th September 2011
Whilst the eyes of the EU are understandably focused on the Southern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Middle East and North African countries, we must not lose sight of the importance of the Eastern Partnership and our support for closer relations with the six countries to the East.
Ukraine is going through a very difficult phase with deterioration, clearly, now in its democratic structures and the rule of law, as we have seen over the selective justice applied to Yulia Tymoshenko. This is happening just as it wants to sign a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. Belarus is still in the grip of a dictator, Lukashenko. The situation in the Caucasus is worrying, with continued Russian occupation of Georgia and the escalation of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh (NK).
I welcome the new European Union Special Representative appointment for the ‘frozen conflicts’ from the High Representative, but at the inaugural meeting of Euronest, which I intended two weeks ago, the impasse over EU membership prospects under Article 49 for the six countries, including the three Caucasus republics, and also the NK dispute, basically paralysed the day’s proceedings, which does not augur well for Euronest parliamentary cooperation.
I hope that the Warsaw Summit does not get bogged down in the same way on 29 September. The EU should primarily focus on a pragmatic basis on issues like trade liberalisation and visa facilititation as the way forward, not the intractable issues like NK.