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Adrienne Warren

The UN and the Eastern Partnership: Unity Under the ‘Benevolent Umbrella’

The Eastern Partnership went to New York this week, joining with the gathering of the General Assembly of the United Nations, as well as meeting on the sidelines with EU Representatives Catherine Ashton and Štefan Füle. The ever-approaching Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius was the focus of discussion–as well as taking stock of where things stand in the EaP.  Ukraine is tipped to sign the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, with Moldova and Georgia due to initial the document for joining the free trade area next year.  With this in mind, the EU emphasised strengthening cooperation with the other EaP countries while in New York. Let’s take a look at what is being said…

UN headquarters, NY, USA, author:  zoomion, source: Flickr

UN headquarters, NY, USA, author: zoomion, source: Flickr

First up… #Georgia #Russia

President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on 25 September, urging the nations of Eastern Europe to unite under the Eastern Partnership. The Georgian President also lashed out at Russia recent attempts to dissuade its neighbours from integrating further with the EU. Saakashvili addressed the need to strengthen the Eastern Partnership and use it as a tool to enhance collaboration for the EU Neighbourhood:

“Unity should be our rule in Eastern Europe, including in the divided Caucasus,” Saakashvili explained, “By launching the Eastern Partnership as a response to the 2008 invasion of Georgia, the EU has offered to our nations a platform to cooperate under its benevolent umbrella. We should invest much more in it. We should develop common projects, first and foremost focusing on the necessary reforms that we should carry out together.”

Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski

at the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, 25 September 2013, New York

Saakashvili also highlighted the importance of using the Eastern Partnership as a platform for consolidating freedom and democracy. In addition, the Georgian President used the opportunity before the General Assembly to speak out against recent pressure tactics from Russia on EaP countries pursuing a more EU-centered path:

“Armenia has been cornered, Moldova is being blockaded, Ukraine is under attack, Azerbaijan faces extraordinary pressure and Georgia is occupied,” Saakashvili heatedly continued, “Why? Because an old Empire is trying to reclaim its bygone borders. And ‘borders’ is actually not the right word, since this Empire – be it the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation, or the Eurasian Union – never had borders. It only had margins. I came today to speak in the name of these margins. Unlike most nations, the Russian Federation has no interest in having stable states around it. Neighboring countries in constant turmoil is what the Kremlin is seeking. It rejects the very idea of strong governments in Georgia, Ukraine, or Moldova, even ones that try to be friendly to its interests.”

Saakashvili expressed his hope that the EaP and the approaching summit would offer a protected and fulfilling future for the Republic of Georgia:

“As we come closer to the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit, I would like to reiterate a call that I have made several times in the recent years. By launching the Eastern Partnership, as a response to the 2008 invasion of Georgia, the EU has offered to our nations a platform to cooperate under its benevolent umbrella. We should invest much more in it. We should develop common projects, first and foremost focusing on the necessary reforms that we should carry on together. Because reforms mean – for all of us – statehood and independence.”

 

 

Meanwhile… #EaP & #EU

 

 Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius as well as the Foreign Ministers of the six countries of the Eastern Partnership in New York City. According to the statement released by Ashton and Füle:

“Ashton and Commissioner Füle stressed that the EU policy towards neighbours is a dynamic one, based on the EU´s values and norms, and adapts to the needs and ambitions of its partner countries. This policy aims to push forward EU-type transformative reforms and does not operate at the expense of anyone. They noted that the cooperation within the Eastern Partnership, including through the Association Agreements, can be beneficial also for the regional cooperation and for the neighbours of EU’s neighbours. At the same time, HR/VP Ashton and Commissioner Füle recalled that it was unacceptable to exercise pressure on partner countries willing to sign an Association Agreement with the EU.”

 

 

And then… Ukraine

 

 

 

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy met with President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych on the fringe of the UN General Assembly to discuss Ukraine’s upcoming signing of the Association Agreement with the EU. As per the  Commission’s statement:

“They [Barroso, Van Rompuy and Yanukovych] expressed the EU’s determination in moving forward the Association Agenda with Ukraine in line with the country’s sovereign decision. With a view to create the conditions conducive to signing the Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement by the Vilnius Summit in November, the two Presidents encouraged President Yanukovych to take determined action and make tangible progress on the benchmarks set by the FAC in December 2012, including on the issue of selective justice.  They also discussed cooperation on energy issues as well as financial assistance.”

Last but not least… Moldova

Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca spoke to the General Assembly about an issue dear to Moldova’s heart– the importance of technological advances to enable direct public access to Government services:

“Our aim is to make all such Government services available electronically to all citizens by 2020 at anytime, from anywhere, using modern communication technologies and devices such as computers, mobile phones and interactive payment offices,” the Prime Minister said.

 

Moldova already implements an electronic catalogue for public services, a mobile digital signature, and a Government Electronic Payment Gateway, among recent advances–reportedly taking a page out of leading technology ally, Estonia.

Moldova’s report on the nations progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals also debuted this week–showing Moldova has made noticeable technological strides–which, though a good sign, have made an even greater disparity between urban and rural civilians.

Sources: Europa, Civil.ge

Follow #UNGA

Featured image: Ellis Island by Karri O on Flickr

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Graduated in International Relations and Russian. Resident of Estonia, but a citizen of the world. Most interested in contributing to the progress and education of mankind--as the primary tool of achieving global unity.

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