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No agreement on Belarus at Warsaw EU summit

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 01.10.2011 10:31
Five ex-Soviet states refused sign a declaration at the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw, Friday, condemning the human rights record of the regime of Belarus president, Alexander Lukashenko.

Right to left: Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, PM Tusk, Herman van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso; photo - PAP/Tomasz Gzell

Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan all gave different reasons why they did not sign the document against Belarus, which pulled out of the summit on the eastern Partnership programme, a Polish-Swedish initiative to bring ex-Soviet states closer to EU structures.

The Polish opposition Law and Justice party has accused the government and the Foreign Ministry of failing to prepare the summit properly. In ts view, the five countries’ refusal to sign the declaration on Belarus is “a fiasco [for] Polish diplomacy”.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk told journalists that it had been the intention of the Polish government, as the host of the summit, to “draft the concept of a modernization package for a democratic Belarus”, a situation made difficult by the fact that the Belarusian government decided not to send a representative.

The EU strongly criticised the Lukashenko regime after what were widely regarded as rigged presidential election last December.

Such a package is conditioned on a full amnesty for political prisoners, talks with the opposition and the holding of parliamentary elections in line with the standards of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The general declaration of the Eastern Partnership summit, signed by the 27 members of the block plus the five ex-Soviet nations which attended, recognizes EU aspirations of the ex-Soviet member countries and their commitment to build solid and lasting democratic systems.

The declaration also speaks of the prospect for a step-by-step introduction of visa-free travel for their citizens, and of plans to set up in Warsaw an Academy of Public Administration and to include students from Eastern Partnership countries in the Erasmus programme of academic exchange.

The declaration states that it is “possible” to conclude negotiations on Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU by the end of the year, and that by that time talks are to begin with Georgia and Moldova on free trade agreements.

According to the spokesman for the Polish six-month EU presidency Konrad Niklewicz, the Warsaw summit was a success as its results mark tangible progress to what had been agreed at the first Eastern Partnership summit in Prague two years ago. (mk/pg)

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