The European Commission has issued updates on the progress made by Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, and also pointed to policy areas that still need improvement.
The report is especially important as it provides clues related the future programming of EU funds (approximately 15.4 billion euros) dedicated to the Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods for the next seven years.
Below there are some of the recommendations made by the EC:
- Independent investigation of “the violent acts on both sides which occurred during the civil protests”;
- Etablishment of reliable and uniform electoral systems and clear rules for balanced media access for candidates;
- Implementation of the reform of the Prosecutor-General’s Office;
- Greater efforts of the Ukrainian authorities to secure visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.
- The need to fight corruption at all levels;
- Assuring that parliamentary elections scheduled for November are in line with European standards;
- The need to “engage proactively” with its separatist region of Transdniester in order to develop a common vision for the future and to enable the acces of Transdniestrian-based economic agents to the benefits of the future Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
- Eensure adequate separation of powers and checks and balances between executive, legislative, and the judicial powers;
- Full independence and transparence of the judiciary;
- Strengthening media pluralism and independence;
- Improvement of Georgia’s engagement policy towards separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (ensure open communication, encourage trade, education and investment).
- Brussels reexpressed its committment to future cooperation with Armenia (despite Armenia joinining the Russian-led Customs Union);
- The need to fight against corruption in the police and judiciary;
- The need to cooperate and protect civil society and investigated the attacks/intimidations of human right defender;
- Ensure the access of EU representatives in the Nagorno-Karabakh area and to stop actions that contribute to rising tensions.
- More efforts to ensure democratic governance and human rights reform;
- There were problems with the recent presidential elections in terms of limitations of freedom of expression and association, as well as a general climate of intimidation of the press and activists;
- As in the case of Armenia, EU urges Azerbaidjan to take similar actions in the Nagorno-Karabakh area.
- EU assistance to Minsk is limited in scope and focuses “directly and indirectly on supporting the needs of the population and democratization.”
- There are general repressive policies towards the political opposition, civil society and also infringements on human rights;
- There was a positive trend in regarding the cooperation with the international community on specific issues, such as the death penalty and higher education.
Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty