Azerbaijan , Baku, October 7 / Trend E.Tariverdiyeva/
The first Summit in Prague in May 2009 launched a strategic and ambitious Eastern Partnership as a specific dimension of the European Neighborhood Policy, to further support Eastern European countries' reform processes, Polish Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Michal Labenda said in an interview with Trend .
"It also viewed acceleration of their political association and economic integration with the European Union. Reforms should be applied in a spirit of shared ownership and mutual accountability", said the Ambassador .
The Eastern Partnership is based on a community of values and principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, he said.
"All countries participating in the Eastern Partnership are committed to these values through the relevant international instruments. Any European Union Member State is also committed to them through the Treaty on European Union. The Eastern Partnership aims to create the necessary conditions to accelerate political association and further economic integration between the European Union and interested partner countries, recognising the economic benefits of enhancing trade in goods and services, the potential for increased investment flows and the importance of progressive economic integration with the EU Internal Market", said Labenda.
The Eastern Partnership will seek to further support political and socio-economic reforms in the partner countries, facilitating comprehensive approximation towards the European Union, leading progressively to economic integration in the EU Internal Market, and therefore to the creation of an economic area between the EU and partner countries, said the Ambassador.
In short, the idea is that the partners should achieve the level of political, social and economical development which has been already achieved by the EU, he said.
"Warsaw Summit confirmed that agenda, but it also made it more concrete - the European agenda was underlined and is still valid for all interested partners in the way they would like to have it. For the first time the Summit was accompanied by EaP Business Forum. Also Civil society Forum was organized", said Labenda .
The Warsaw Summit recognized that reinforced reform efforts serve a common interest of the EU and the partner countries, he said.
"Moreover, the participants of the Warsaw Summit acknowledge the European aspirations and the European choice of some partners and their commitment to build deep and sustainable democracy. They highlighted the particular role for the Eastern Partnership to support those who seek an ever closer relationship with the EU", the Ambassador said.
The Summit looked forward to the European Commission's proposal to establish under the next multi-annual financial framework a new European Neighbourhood Instrument which will, inter alia, reflect the new level of ambition of the European Neighbourhood Policy, Labenda said.
According to Labenda , the participants of the Warsaw Summit encouraged the cooperation of the EU specialized agencies active in the areas related to freedom, security and justice with interested partner countries. The participants of the Warsaw Summit agreed to facilitate, including through continued co-financing, participation by partner countries in EU programmes and agencies, he said.
"Some countries introduced complementary programs reinforcing existing programmes, such as the Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership focused on administrative capacity. Some new initiatives were announced, such as Poland's Eastern Partnership Academy of Public Administration in Warsaw. It is already launched and, by the way, some Azerbaijani participants are going to take part in this programme", Labenda said.
The EU-partner countries Association Agreements are exceptional cases in a world's politics. Through them, the EU spreads its law-making know-how, standards and values, simultaneously with the opening of the huge European Market, he said. The Association Agreements with comprehensive reform agendas and, where appropriate, with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) as its integral part, are the cornerstones of relations under the Eastern Partnership. The very productive negotiations have already taken place with countries like Ukraine, Ambassador said.
"Warsaw Summit Declaration looks forward to the possible finalisation of these negotiations by the time of the EU-Ukraine Summit in December 2011. Good progress has been made in the Association Agreement negotiations with the Republic of Moldova, and significant progress were made in the negotiations with the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, and Georgia.
As far as the DCFTA part of Association Agreements with Georgia and the Republic of Moldova are concerned, it is envisaged that such negotiations could start by the end of this year, provided sufficient progress has been made in fulfilling a number of outstanding key recommendations. Armenia should continue its efforts to become ready for DCFTA negotiations, building on the substantial work accomplished. Azerbaijan, until it becomes a member of WTO, is not entitled to DCFTA", Labenda said.
It remains a core objective of the Eastern Partnership to enhance mobility of citizens in a secure and well-managed environment, the Ambassador said.
This objective entails visa facilitation and readmission agreements as a first step, he said.
Once these agreements are concluded and effectively implemented, the EU and the partner countries will take gradual steps towards visa-free regimes in due course on a case-by-case basis provided that conditions for well-managed and secure mobility set out in two-phase action plans for visa liberalisation are in place, he said.
"In this context, the participants of the Warsaw Summit take stock of progress made by the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in the implementation of their respective Action Plans on visa liberalisation. These Plans could serve as models for other partner countries bearing in mind the specificity and progress of each country", the Ambassador said.
The participants of the Warsaw Summit agreed to further strengthening of long term energy security, including through cooperation on stable and secure energy supply and transit, nuclear safety, competitive energy markets, and through enhancement of physical infrastructure according to market principles, to enhance energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources and welcome the launch of the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership with Ukraine and agree to work toward extending its membership to other partners, he said.
"Co-operation and policy dialogue on education, research, youth and culture should be further enhanced, including through the launch of an Eastern Partnership Youth Programme, the continuation of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme and expanding participation in relevant programmes, including the successor of the Lifelong Learning, Culture and Youth in Action programmes. A Common Knowledge and Innovation Space linked to Smart Growth and the EU innovation agenda will be established in order to give the policy more impact and visibility", Labenda said.
The participants of the Warsaw Summit underlined the important role civil society plays in pursuing the goals of the Eastern Partnership, the Ambassador said.
They commit themselves to fully support the work of civil society and promote the development of civil society's role in support of democracy, he said.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and its National Platforms are essential to promote democratic values on which the Eastern Partnership's is based, Labenda said.
"The Forum's involvement in the implementation of the Eastern Partnership should be strengthened, including through reinforced capacity and enhanced participation in the Eastern Partnership multilateral track. Targeted support has been, and will strongly continue to be, provided to civil society in partner countries in full coherence with existing instruments and structures, and possibly through the establishment of a Civil Society Facility and a European Endowment for Democracy," the Ambassador said.