EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from six eastern European states, members of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative, met in Brussels on December 13 to discuss cooperation.
Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, represented Georgia, which together with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, is part of Eastern Partnership, initiated by EU in late 2008 to deepen ties with its eastern neighbors.
The foreign ministers “emphasized the strategic importance of the Eastern Partnership as a way to deepen and strengthen relations between the EU and the Partner countries,” reads final conclusion, released after the meeting, which was chaired by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
“Ministers stressed the need to make further progress particularly in negotiations on Association Agreements, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas.”
It also said that the foreign ministers discussed areas where “more could be done within the Eastern Partnership”, including in improving sectoral cooperation; facilitating the participation of the Partners to the EU programmes; strengthening cooperation in conflict prevention and resolution and consolidating the role of civil society.
Asked about Georgia before the start of the meeting, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said that there “has been a good progress in Eastern Partnership with Georgia.”
“So I think with Georgia and European Union things are going in right direction,” he said.
Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said before the meeting: “Together with my counterparts we will discuss the progress achieved and talk about how we should continue the cooperation in viewed that Georgia has achieved a great success in bilateral relations with the European Union and we want to see similar progress in multilateral, regional cooperation.”
EU Eastern Partnership summit will be held in Budapest in May, 2011.
According to one confidential diplomatic dispatch from series of leaked U.S. embassy cables, released by WikiLeaks, an EU diplomat told U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon in July, 2009, that Russia view EU’s Eastern Partnership “through a zero-sum lens”, perceiving the initiative as anti-Russian.