European Neighbourhood Policy, working towards a stronger partnership
Delivered in Plenary - 22 October 2013
The latest European Neighbourhood Policy report is largely to be welcomed, although each year it becomes more apparent how difficult it is to harmonise a strategy for such different countries, particularly with the combination of both the Southern and Eastern Partnership.
Ten years ago, I was rapporteur in this Parliament when the five countries of the East had a certain cohesion, but now even there we see the effects of competing interests and new Russian pressure, particularly when it comes to Armenia and, potentially, Moldova. So we need to focus on saving the big fish, namely Ukraine and Georgia. We naturally welcome President Yanukovych’s moves to sign the DCFTA and Association Agreement in Vilnius next month, together with the real efforts he has shown to resolve the thorny issue of Yulia Tymoshenko’s incarceration under selective justice by letting her seek medical treatment in Germany.
As for Armenia, a country dear to my heart, we naturally regret its move to join the Eurasian Customs Union with Russia, but we can still cooperate with that country on a whole range of issues, from visa liberalisation to culture and tourism outside the formal DCFTA mechanisms. Indeed, we must redouble our efforts to build relationships and cooperation with all the countries of the Southern and Eastern Partnerships, irrespective of Vilnius. Lastly, on the question of Armenia, which I am visiting shortly, I hope that they will be present at a high level of their own government at Vilnius, even if the DCFTA and Association Agreement is sadly no longer on the table.