The meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group and the Eastern Partnership countries as well as of Ireland and Lithuania, holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2013, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, was held in Kraków and Wieliczka on 17 May 2013 under Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Group. The Ministers discussed the Eastern Partnership with a view to the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in November and its significance to the further development of the EaP.
Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group, Ireland and Lithuania
Noted that the Eastern Partnership has proved to be an effective vehicle to support and facilitate democratic transformation of those Eastern European Partners who had embarked on reforms leading towards deep and sustainable democracy.
Expressed their appreciation of the determination of these Eastern Partnership countries which, despite some internal challenges, are progressing in the process of implementing political, social and economic reforms. They reiterated their engagement in further strengthening and developing the Eastern Partnership and reaffirmed their strong commitment to the objectives agreed in the Joint Declarations of the Eastern Partnership Summits of May 2009 in Prague and September 2011 in Warsaw.
Stressed the importance of ambitious funding for the Eastern Partnership in the 2014-2020 financial framework. In this context the Ministers emphasized that the pace of reforms determines the intensity of cooperation and therefore partners most engaged in reforms benefit more from their relationship with the EU in line with the “more for more” principle which will also be applied in the new European Neighbourhood Instrument.
Discussed the way forward to the third Eastern Partnership Summit in November 2013. They reiterated their support for the European perspective of the Eastern European Partners underlining that deep and sustainable democracy is an important prerequisite for the Partners’ ever closer relationship with the EU.
The Ministers of the Visegrad Group reiterated their commitment to sharing experience on reform and transition with the Eastern European partners. In this regard, they underlined the significance of the „Visegrad 4 Eastern Partnership” (V4EaP) programme designed by the International Visegrad Fund to facilitate the systemic transformation and democratisation of the Eastern Partnership countries.
Welcomed the substantial progress made in the negotiations of Association Agreements (AA). Reiterated their commitment to the signing of the Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), with Ukraine possibly at the EaP Summit in Vilnius. They acknowledged that the signature should be accompanied by the opening of parts of the Agreement for provisional application. The Ministers expressed their strong support to initialling the AA/DCFTA with the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Armenia at the EaP Summit. They underlined their commitment to advancing the AA negotiations with Azerbaijan.
Recalled a vital importance of deepening economic integration on the basis of DCFTAs and expressed their expectation to make further steps towards the EU–EaP Economic Area, envisaged by the Joint Declaration of the Warsaw Eastern Partnership Summit in 2011.
Welcomed the progress made in the process of visa liberalisation. They noted with satisfaction the launch of the second phase of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation with the Republic of Moldova with a view to achieving a visa-free regime in 2014 and encouraged Ukraine to move forward with the implementation of its first phase benchmarks in order to pass to the second phase as soon as possible. They also welcomed progress made by Georgia in the implementation of the first phase of the Action