The participants of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga reiterate their full support to the mediation efforts by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including at the level of Presidents and their statements since 2009, reads the Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit held in Riga on May 20-21.
Specifically, the Joint Declaration reads: “The participants of the Riga summit reconfirm the high importance they attach to the Eastern Partnership as a specific dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy. They reaffirm their shared vision of this strategic and ambitious Partnership as one based on mutual interests and commitments and supporting sustained reform processes in the Eastern European partner countries, States participating in the Eastern Partnership.Summit participants recommit themselves to strengthen democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the principles and norms of international law, which are and have been at the heart of this Partnership since it was launched as a common endeavour of the Member States of the European Union and their Eastern European partners. They recall that the Eastern Partnership is founded on shared ownership, responsibility, differentiation and mutual accountability. They underline the importance of the engagement of all society in turning this shared vision into reality.”
The document also says that in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, the Summit participants reaffirm the sovereign right of each partner freely to choose the level of ambition and the goals to which it aspires in its relations with the European Union. “It is for the EU and its sovereign partners to decide on how they want to proceed in their relations,” the Declaration reads.
Referring to Armenia, the Declaration notes: “Summit participants welcome the steps taken since the Vilnius Summit in 2013 in developing differentiated bilateral relations between the EU and each of its partners. Participants welcome the common understanding reached on the scope for a future agreement between the EU and Armenia aimed at further developing and strengthening their comprehensive cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.”
According to the Declaration, the Summit participants welcome the launch of the new Flagship Initiative on Sustainable Municipal Development and look forward to its implementation. “In this context they emphasize the important role of the E5P (Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership) and the progress reached in extending the E5P to Armenia, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, in addition to Ukraine,” the document reads.
Besides, the participants welcome the progress to date in the implementation of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements (VFA/RA) with Armenia and Azerbaijan respectively. “They look forward to consideration in due course of the opening of a visa dialogue with Armenia, provided that Armenia continues to ensure sustained progress in the full implementation of the VFA/RA.”
The Declaration also reads: “The Summit participants welcome the association of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to the framework programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020 and look forward to finalising the agreements for association of Armenia and Georgia.”
The Summit participants also welcome the participation of the Republic of
Moldova in the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and
Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) and look forward to Ukraine and Armenia joining in future. Besides, they look forward to the launching of negotiations on an EU-Armenia Aviation Agreement at the earliest opportunity.
The final Eastern Partnership Summit declaration contains no provision on providing visa-free regime to Georgia and Ukraine in 2016. The EU is ready to provide visa-free regime to these countries in case of receiving a positive report from the EU Commission in late 2015.
The Declaration also urges all parties to fully implement Minsk Agreements.
The document retains the statement on ‘the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol,’ but the latter was signed only by the EU countries. Belarus supported the final Declaration with reservations. All the Summit participants, including the Eastern Partnership countries, confirmed their stance on the territorial integrity of Ukraine in terms of the UN resolution (Armenia and Belarus voted against its adoption).
At the beginning of the Riga Summit, discrepancies emerged between the participants over the Crimea matter. According to Reuters, Belarus and Armenia declined to agree on the final declaration because of the statement on “the illegal annexation of Crimea.”