The European Union foreign ministers discussed in an informal meeting (Gymnich) in Riga on Friday and Saturday the situation in Ukraine and the EU-Russia relations in this context. Other topics on the agenda were the preparation of the Eastern Partnership summit, to be also held in Riga on May 21-22, and the review of the European Neighbourhood policy.
The Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu participated in this meeting, where the top European diplomats ‘extensively debated the latest evolutions in Ukraine, focusing on the implementation of the Minsk II agreement. The European Union relations with Russia were also analysed in this context. OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] Secretary General Lamberto Zannier contributed to the dialogue opening,’ a release of the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) informed Agerpres on Saturday.
Aurescu mentioned the importance of a quick and unconditioned application of the February 12 Minsk agreements, as they represent a roadmap, a path to a political solution of the conflict in Ukraine, MAE detailed.
The Romanian minister pointed out the halting – incomplete, indeed – of violence in eastern Ukraine.
According to the MAE, Aurescu reasserted Romania’s position in support of maintain the regime of sanctions in the present context, as it is an efficient means to be preserved until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented, to result in an authentic political commitment to the efforts of improving the field situation and the agreements implementation process.
Aurescu pointed out that the EU must also be prepared to adopt new sanctions, if fighting resumes, around Mariupol, for instance, or if other points of the Minsk agreement are blocked. He stressed the vital importance of the EU support for the implementation of the steps subsequent to the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons stipulated in the Minsk agreements; otherwise, he said, there is a risk of Transnistria-type evolution in eastern Ukraine, with no perspective to a complete political solution of the crisis. He also pleaded for a strategy of the EU relations with Russia that considers the situation in the Eastern Neighbourhood as a whole, MAE added in the aforementioned document.
As regards the Eastern Partnership Summit in May, the top Romanian diplomat asserted it should be a milestone for an ambitious perspective of the EU concerning the Eastern Partnership states. Aurescu highlighted the importance of a flexible approach on medium and long term, taking into account the European aspirations of the partner states and the principles of differentiation and evaluation based on individual merits, accompanied by a wise use of conditions, so that the partners are encouraged.
‘The EU should not hesitate to get involved in the settlement of the protracted conflicts in the Eastern neighbourhood,’ Aurescu declared. He underscored that the Eastern Partnership should focus more in the future on the solutions to the frozen conflicts, including by using the assistance means at EU’s disposal.
Aurescu also insisted that the Republic of Moldova was the most advanced country in the Eastern Partnership; therefore, he maintained, the efforts of the Chisinau authorities should be encouraged and constantly supported. The MAE also informed that the minister voiced his hope, following the visits of the Romanian President to Chisinau and respectively of the Moldovan foreign minister to Bucharest, that the Moldovan Government will maintain its European commitment. He encouraged his colleagues to participate in the meeting of the Support Group of the European Action for Moldova, convened by the Romanian and French foreign ministers on March 16, in Brussels.
Aurescu also called the EU member states that did not yet ratify the Association and Free Trade Agreements to do it as soon as possible; Romania was the first state to complete this step in July 2014. He also asked for palpable progress at the Riga Summit on the liberalization of visas for Georgia and Ukraine.
The Summit should also acknowledge the European perspective of the states in the Eastern Partnership, including the Republic of Moldova, as this perspective has a strategic relevance for the EU, the Romanian minister also pointed out.
The reviewing of the European Neighbourhood Policy was approached from the perspective of the launching of consultations with the partner states, on March 4.
‘This complex process belongs in a wider framework of re-evaluation by the European Union of the challenges facing both regions – South and East – and aims at creating the favourable context for the reasonable and efficient use of all the European instruments for the neighbourhood. During the talks held with the participation of EU-aspiring and candidate states, a strong accent was placed on the active and constructive role they have to play in order to contribute to the consolidation of the regional action and profile of the European Union.,’ MAE’s release further reads.
The Romanian foreign minister noted the need for a balanced regional approach between the eastern and southern sides of the European Neighbourhood Policy. He also proposed to add, within the process of considering the review of this policy, the development of a security dialogue platform, given the evolutions of the EU neighbourhood both on south and on east and the preoccupations of the partner states about these matters.
As regards the crisis in Libya, the EU foreign ministers asserted the importance of keeping an active role of the European Union in the facilitation of the dialogue moderated by the United Nations, to contribute to the forming of a national unity government.