EU steers Eastern Partnership Summit to cautious conclusion
PR dla Zagranicy
EU leaders stopped short of clear-cut declarations on EU-enlargement or visa-free travel for non-members in post-Soviet states during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk (L-R), Spanish Foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker during arrivals at Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Latvia, 22 May 2015. EPA/VALDA KALNINA
"Nobody promised that the Eastern Partnership would be an automatic way to membership of the European Union," EU President and former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk declared, rounding up the meeting.
The six non-EU post-Soviet states in the Eastern partnership were themselves markedly divided, with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova veering towards the west, while Belarus and Armenia want limited cooperation coupled with involvement in Russia's Eurasian Economic Union, while Azerbaijan remains reserved towards both unions.
Nevertheless, the affirmation in the final document that participants in the summit "acknowledge the European aspirations and European choice of the partners concerned" was considered a success for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.
Only Moldovan citizens have visa-free travel in the EU at present, and no concrete dates were provided on the extension of this policy in Riga, despite positive words on the matter.
Meanwhile, Belarus and Armenia objected to the description of Russia's "illegal annexation" of Ukraine in the final document.
EU leaders found a way out by allowing the aforementioned states to sign a slightly modified version.
Earlier on Friday, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, Ukraine's Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko and the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine Valeria Gontareva signed a Memorandum of Understanding and loan agreement for the third EU Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme to Ukraine.
The documents laid out conditions for Ukraine to take advantage of a EUR 1.8 billion loan from the EU. (nh)