Between 22 and 24 March 2012, the first EU – Eastern Partnership Forum, gathering 120 influential persons from political and business spheres, is to be held in Tbilisi. The event is under the Honorary Patronage of the Prime Minister of Georgia Mr Nika Gilauri.
Three years after its inauguration, Eastern Partnership (EaP), the initiative of Poland and Sweden, seems to have arrived to a breaking point. On the one hand, the attention of the European Union is focused on the debt crisis in the euro-zone and the foreign policy is concentrated on the revolutionary transformations in North Africa. On the other hand, the experiences from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, where civil societies and democratic forces are still forming after the collapse of dictatorships, showed that the EU must support democratic values. First EU-Eastern Partnership Forum that will take place in Tbilisi under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Georgia Nika Gilauri will be an excellent opportunity to discuss achievements and failures of the EaP, especially in the context of the Eastern Partnership Summit that was held last year in Warsaw. The participants of the Summit agreed that reinforcement of the EaP, also by increasing financial involvement, is crucial now, when the EU is facing the economic crisis and is engaged in shaping a new strategy for southern states.
In the context of bilateral relations, the Partnership provides for the signing of association agreements and the creation of the comprehensive free trade areas. The issue of bilateral relations will be all the more important during the Forum that the EU completed in January negotiations with Ukraine, and opened negotiations with Georgia and Moldova. Therefore, many representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of several States of the Community, of the Eastern Partnership countries and diplomats from the EU institutions have advised their participation in the event. One of the major problems the Eastern Partnership countries have been facing for more than twenty years are frozen regional conflicts such as those in Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia.
Can the instruments of Eastern Partnership, despite the omission of hard security agenda, help resolve the problem? This subject will be tackled by the diplomats who have been for years involved in the and peace settlement process in the post-Soviet area. An important element of the Forum will be the discussion pertaining to trade and investment potential of Eastern Partnership. That will focus on the opportunities offered by economic cooperation with the EU and the barriers that member states of Easter Partnership will have to eliminate in order to fully benefit from this cooperation. The role of the Eastern Partnership shall, according to the guests invited to the Forum, accomplish in the first row through promotion of the market mechanisms, support for the reforms’ projects focusing on making the economic structures more transparent and last but not least through passing on “good practices” in the trade and economy.
The following guests preliminary confirmed participation in the Forum debates: Nika Gilauri, Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Baramidze, Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia, Minister of European and Euro Atlantic Integration, Grigol Vashadze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Natalia Korolevska, Chairperson of the Committee on Industrial and Regulatory Policy and Entrepreneurship, The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Borys Tarasiuk, Chairman of the European Integration Committee, Verkhovna Rada Ukraine, Philippe Szymczak, Head of Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia Division in the European Investment Bank, Evaldas Ignatavièius, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Grzegorz Schetyna, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Sejm of Poland, Philippe Lefort, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, France, Andrzej Parafianowicz, Deputy Minister of Finance, Poland, Lika Glonti, Head, National Tempus Office of the European Commission in Georgia, Members of the European Parliament: Tomasz Poręba and Martin Callanan.
In order to the take advantage of the wide spectrum of possibilities offered by the Eastern Partnership project, it is crucial to create the platform discussions between all interested parties. According to the European Commission, the cooperation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which had witnessed the processes of democratic transition in the last decades, is a vital element to make the Eastern Partnership successful. In order to create the meeting place for politicians, businessmen and NGOs’ representatives, the Institute for Eastern Studies, the organizer of the biggest economic conference in Central Europe and Georgian Ministry on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration decided to organize the EU – Eastern Partnership Forum. The first edition of the European Union –Eastern Partnership Forum is to take place in Tbilisi on 22nd – 24th of March 2012.
The organizers of the EU – Eastern Partnership Forum that aim to summarize achievements made thus far and to discuss the perspective development of economic and political relations among partners is the Foundation Institute for Eastern Studies, a creator of Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdrój, Poland – the largest gathering of political and business leaders in Eastern and Central Europe.