Saturday, November 25, 2017

EU, former Soviet states pledge to cement ties

EU, former Soviet states pledge to cement ties
Leaders from The European Union (EU) and six former Soviet countries on Friday pledged to cement their ties, which "is not directed against anyone".

"The participants stress that the Eastern Partnership aims at building a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation and is not directed against anyone," said a joint declaration released following the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels, which gathered leaders of the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

"They reaffirm their shared commitment to this strategic and ambitious Partnership... which brings the Eastern European partner countries closer to the European Union," said the declaration.

The leaders in the joint declaration also "reaffirm the sovereign right of each partner to choose the level of ambition and the goals to which it aspires in its relations with the European Union."

They also pledge their commitments to 20 deliverables for 2020 in four areas eyeing "stronger governance", "stronger economy", "better connectivity" and "people-to-people contacts."

The dulcet tone of the text is in stark contrast with the biting remarks of British Prime Minister Theresa May, who told reporters after her arrival at the summit that "we must be open-eyed about the actions of hostile states such as Russia who threaten the potential growth of eastern neighborhood and who try to tear our collective strength apart."

The EU has been walking a tightrope between wooing its eastern neighbors and avoiding rankling Moscow.

There are association agreements and free trade pacts between the EU and Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, which hope to join the bloc eventually. Citizens of these countries are allowed to travel to the Schengen Area with a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period.

However, the EU has stressed the Eastern Partnership initiative is not an EU accession process.

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