Riga Summit to bring new direction to Eastern Partnership

It is time for the European Union to take a new approach to its eastern neighbours, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said in Riga Friday.

 

Speaking after talks with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian, Rinkēvičs said the signing of Accession Agreements between the EU and Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine in Brussels earlier in the day was “an important step for the EU and relations with these countries” but that changes would now be needed to existing Eastern Partnership structures and the planned Riga Summit due to take place during Latvia's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2015 would be the right time and place to do so.

“At the Riga Summit we should send a clear signal that the EU will have a more individualistic approach to these countries taking their interests into account."

“Not all countries want to join the EU - some countries wish to have special cooperation mechanisms and we should respect that,” Rinkēvičs told journalists.

“We have to review the Eastern Partnership as it was set in 2009... this is also the view that many of my colleagues in the European Affairs council share.”

“We can find a more tailored approach. These five years have been very valuable for the eastern partners but now we have to review things... but it's not the end of the eastern partnerships,” Rinkēvičs added.

For his part, Nalbandian said there was no prospect of Armenia changing its mind about joining the Russian-led Customs Union instead of the EU.

“With our decision to join the Customs Union it was said from Brussels that this was incompatible with membership [of the EU] but we will continue our cooperation in all possible fields,” Nalbandian said.

The Eastern Partnership is an EU initiative launched in 2009 to govern the bloc's relationship with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Of those six countries, Georgia and Moldova have been the most vocal in their desire to become full EU members while Belarus and Armenia have instead opted to join the Russia-led Eurasian Union and Customs Union.

Ukraine's divided attitude towards EU membership has been an important factor in the current turmoil it is experiencing. 

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