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Ireland welcomes progress at Eastern Partnership Summit

European Union, Minister Paschal Donohoe, Press Releases, Europe, 2013

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. and Minister for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe T.D. today welcomed the strengthening of the EU’s relationship with our neighbours in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Minister Fitzgerald and Minister Donohoe represented Ireland at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius.

The summit, hosted by Lithuania who currently hold the Presidency of the EU,  brought together EU member states and the six European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Georgia and Moldova took the first step towards implementing Association Agreements with the EU when they initialed the agreements this morning. These agreements promote convergence between the EU and the Eastern partners.

Speaking at the Summit in Vilnius, Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the comments of some of the newer EU Member States, which she said attested to “the positive transformative potential of European integration which is in line with Ireland‘s positive experience of EU integration“.

Minister Fitzgerald said:

“Today Georgia and Moldova initialled Association Agreements with the EU. This is an historic step and a declaration of their commitment to a closer relationship with us. We know that the path ahead for both countries will not be without its challenges. But, with support from the European Union and the goodwill of all, these challenges will be met.

“While it was disappointing that Ukraine was not in a position to sign its Association Agreement, nonetheless, the EU stands ready to build closer ties with Ukraine and to assist their transformation.

Ultimately, the decision remains theirs to make.  We commend Pat Cox and President Kwasniewski for their tireless efforts and believe that they continue to make an important contribution to the development of EU-Ukraine relations.”

Minister Donohoe met the Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Natalia Gherman.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Donohoe said:

“Moldova is clearly keen to continue its path to integrate more fully with the European Union.  I heard directly from Minister Gherman about the challenges that they will face. As an EU member, I assured her of Ireland’s full support for their efforts.”