November 22, 2010

The Reluctant Eastern Partner: Ukraine

The European Union hosted the 14th EU-Ukraine Summit in Brusels on 22 November 2010.

Herman van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, Viktor Yanukovych.
Foto: Credit © European Union, 2010 
The following three main topics were high on the meeting agenda:
  • The reform process in Ukraine: in particular macro-economic stability (the Standby Arrangement with the IMF, EU macro-financial aid); energy issues; the local elections of 31 October 2010 and the constitutional court decision; respect for human rights and democratic principles; civil society, media development and people-to-people contacts
  • EU-Ukraine relations, including the Action Plan for a visa-free regime; progress with EU-Ukraine Association Agreement; energy reform; deepening cooperation and convergence in foreign and security policy; the Joint Co-operation Initiative for Crimea.
  • Regional issues, in particular the Transnistrian conflict and the EU Border Assistance Missionrelations with Belarus.

The EU offered the ex-Soviet nation an association agreement which includes a free trade deal. The proposed engagement by the European Union is completely futile, in that it is not accompanied by concrete measures to make Ukraine equal partner within the Eastern Partnership. "Ukraine wants the European Union to treat it as a partner with the potential to become a member and not as a "beggar". (...) It goes without saying that we think this (association) agreement must reflect Ukraine's EU accession prospects. (...) This agreement is very important politically and we think its contents must be clear. We should not be in the position of humiliated beggars asking for something. We must cooperate as partners", President Viktor Yanukovych said, quoted by KyivPost.

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, tryied to reconcile, to calm down, and to make progress on the future relations (comment by President Barroso with a view to the EU-Ukraine Summit): “Ukraine is a key partner for the EU and an important regional player. The ambitious agenda of this Summit reflects  our dynamic and intense relationship."

Polish-Swedish initiative reloaded

Some member state foreign ministers took first concrete steps towards outlining the priorities of EU-Ukrainian relations preceding the EU-Ukraine Summit. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and his Swedish colleague Carl Bildt payed a visit to Kyiv on 17 November 2010. This could be seen as preparatory meeting for the summit. Despite this, Poland and Sweden were the initiators of the Eastern Partnership. During the scheduled meetings both minsiters discussed Ukraine's European aspirations and efforts that should be taken by the Ukrainian officials. Ministers encouraged Ukraine, which remains a key partner for the EU, to continue the process of necessary reforms in line with European democratic standards, noting that the strengthening of executive power must be accompanied by respect for political pluralism.

Poland’s foreign ministry spokesman Marcin Bosacki talked about the Polish intention in Ukraine: "Firstly, the visit is to underline that the EU has not forgotten about Ukraine and is willing to financially support its reforms. However the EU has to be aware of Ukraine’s strategy concerning its adherence with European structures and an assurance that any strengthening of executive power [in the capital] will be accompanied by respect for the pluralism of Ukraine’s political scene." This comes in response to Ukrainian criticism that Poland's lobbyism for Ukraine disclosed a passive attitude towards the future integration of Ukraine into the European framework. Mr. Sikorski added: "That is not true, this is not and never will be so, because Poland is a neighbor of Ukraine, Poland has a lot of connections, Poland has its diaspora here, almost all Polish universities have their partners in Ukraine, all Polish regions are partners in Ukraine We have a huge turnover between Poland and Ukraine. So for us in general discussion about what we had to change its policy towards Ukraine, it is impossible!"

Radek Sikorski and Carl Bildt in Kyiv with Viktor Yanukovich. Foto: PAP/Pawel Kula; Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych 
In addition, what is more important and sustainable is that Poland (and Hungary) is going to take over the EU Council Presidency from Hungary in the second half of 2011. These are two member states that actively support the further development of the Eastern PartnershipThe State Minister at the German Federal Foreign Office, Cornelia Pieper, re-affirmed at the Civil Society Forum in Berlin the German and the Swedish-Polish role in the establishment and devolopment of the Eastern Partnership. In view of the fact that the EU Presidency will be headed by Poland during the second half of 2011, Germany has been seeking contact to the Polish government and the Polish Civil Society for managing the further development of the Initiative.

As for the Polish Government, Mr. Mikołaj Dowgielewicz (Minister for Europe in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) will be able to follow up on this in the second half of 2011 to "deliver concrete proposals". The Minister has made very clear that Eastern Partnership is its main priority for "strengthening not only the bilateral but also the sectoral cooperation".

Additional support has been received from Eastern and Northern EU Member States

Poland hopes that its approach of gradual and measured cooperation towards the countries included by the Eastern Partnership will eventually gain support and meet with a constructive attitude from other Member States of the EU.

Due to begin in the second half of 2013, Lithuanian EU Council Presidency will pay special attention to the Eastern Partners and give a membership perspective for Ukraine, Moldova, Caucasus Republics, and BelarusAudronius Ažubalis, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, outlined in a speech at the Brookings Institution: "Europe today needs to be reinvented. Lack of ideas feeds pragmatism, not balanced by values. (...) We have to redefine our strategic missions with regard to emerging democracies and to help them seriously, including in Europe‘s East: countries like Ukraine, Moldova, Caucasus Republics, Belarus could still become full-fledged members of the European family. I really hope that next year during Hungarian and Polish EU Presidencies we will be able to agree on EU membership perspective for our Eastern European neighbours, that we will extend our four freedoms to those countries without delay, of course, demanding in return clear efforts of modernisation and full transformation of their societies into European one."

Stefan Füle, Alexander Stubb.
Foto: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
Estonian and Finnish attitude is dedicated to ensuring that a European Union neighbourhood policy, and especially Eastern Partnership is needed, which would, with greater commitment, focus upon co-operation between the EU and neighbouring countries, and their internal development. The Estonian Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet and Finnish Foreign Minister, Alexander Stubb, sent a joint address (Press Release) to Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Štefan Füle, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, in which Estonia and Finland highlighted the need for contribution to the development of both sides, the EU and the Partner countries: "We must establish realistic objectives for ourselves. To help the neighbours of Europe to become more active partners of the European Union, European neighbourhood policies must be strengthened and implemented."

What has happened so far between the European Union and Ukraine?

The European Union and Ukraine have been involved in the discussion about the future relations. The European Union has already cross-thematic and issue-specific catalog of measures for Ukraine: Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, Eastern Partnership initiative, Association Agenda, Action Plan on Freedom, Security and Justice, negotiations for a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with Ukraine as part of a future Association Agreement, cooperation for the modernisation of the Ukrainian Gas Transit and Storage, Black Sea Synergy, EU Strategy for the Danube region.

How does Ukraine fit into these aspects? Is European integration still the top priority for Ukraine and vice versa? The approximation with European standards is measured by the Ukrainian development in two main aspects of EU-Ukraine cooperation: security and energy.
  • security aspects - Transnistria
Catherine Ashton.
Foto: Credit © European Union, 2010  
The Transnistrian conflict has become more assertive since Russia has frozen the informal "5+2" format for conflict management in Transnistria. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, stated: "We remain fully committed to the resumption of negotiations in the 5+2 format, without any preconditions or delay, and in full respect of the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. We invite all sides to support the efforts of the Republic of Moldova in implementing confidence building measures, for the benefit of the people living in the Transnistrian region."

In Mai 2010 Russia and Ukraine talked about solving the Transnistrian issue. Both sides signed a declaration, indicating that Moldova and Transnistria, "through peaceful political means and equal dialogue", need to reach a special status for the Transnistria region within Moldova's territorial integrity and sovereignty, constitutional neutrality and the formation of an economic zone and a unique defence. In the mentioned document, Russia and Ukraine "accentuate the important and stabilising role in the current peace-keeping operation in the region and plead for a constructive collaboration of all its composing elements". The two main parties underline their intention to create the necessary conditions to restart negotiations in the 5+2 format, quoted.

Moldova Azi mentioned on 17 November 2010 that the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko met in Kyiv on 16 November 2010 in the "5+2" format for Transinstria. He announced the Ukrainian effort for active contribution to the peace process regulation according to the principle of Moldova's territorial souvereignity.

Ukraine faces the chance to become more involved in the new security system after the European and NATO enlargement. But Ukraine is on a sticky wicket!

The two most influental countries in the European Union, namely France and Germany, become more Russia friendly. French president Nicolas Sarkozy met recently German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Dmitri Medwedjew to discuss the new European security system. During the meeting chancellor Merkel raised the question on Transistria. "Mrs. Merkel’s proposal is that Russia, along with Ukraine, Moldova, Transnistria, the O.S.C.E, the European Union and the United States, revive the so-called 5+2 talks. Germany also wants Russia to eventually withdraw its troops from Transnistria so that Moldova can regain full control of the country. At the same time, Transnistria could be granted some degree of autonomy.", the New York Times qouted.

More particulary, the establishment of the Eastern Partnership was always problematic for France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy does not attended the launching meeting for the Eastern Partnership in Prague in 2009. The German case is more difficult as observers expected. On the one hand, Germany is trying to "update" its relations with the European institutions within the European Union decision-making process. On the other hand, the deeper development of economic and political relations with Russia becomes more popular under the new political class emerging in post-cold-war Germany. The German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, stated in a speech at a forum organized by Goethe-Institut, that "Eastern Partnership, common economic area and visa liberalization could strengthen the relations not only with Eastern European countries but Russia, too."

As the various member states approaches towards the Eastern countries have shown, it is very difficult to predict today how the relations between the Eastern Partners and the EU of tomorrow will look, especially with Ukraine.

However, Russia's perceptions of Ukraine's role in the Transnistrean conflict are led mostly by geopolitics. George Friedman (founder and chief executive officer of STRATFOR) stressed that: "Ukraine is Russia’s southwestern anchor and its Achilles’ heel. It is difficult for Russia to be secure without Ukraine both for economic and strategic reasons. Russia would be hard to defend if Ukraine were under the control of a hostile power. What Ukraine is to Russia, Moldova is to Ukraine. It is a salient that makes Ukraine difficult to defend, and if Ukraine can’t be defended, Russia can’t be defended either."
  • energy
Energy security and energy foreign policy are probably the most sensitive issues of European and Ukrainian foreign relations. Participants from the European Union, the member states and Ukraine, such as from international institutions and the gas industry met in Brussels on 23 March 2009. The discussion included measures for the modernisation of the gas transit system of Ukraine. The declaration adopted at this event identified a series of guidelines to be followed by the Ukrainian government in order to ensure the sustainability, efficiency and transparency of the Ukrainian gas Transit System. This move suggested Russia as a step forward the European Union and as a move away from the Russian sphere of influence.

On 10 November 2010 EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger presented the new European strategy "Energy 2020 - A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy". Oettinger also called in order to strengthen the external dimension of the EU energy market for "trilateral" talks between Ukraine, Russia, and the EU to examine the long-term future of Ukraine as a transit country for gas. All parties were aware form the outset in the gas crisis 2009 that these requirements were extremely demanding, and that this leap into the future woldn't be easy. During a Ukrainian-Belgian business forum in Kyiv on 22 Novemner 2010, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said in order to calm down perceptions in Europe: "Europe can be confident that the situation seen in January 2009 will never happen again", KyivPost reported.

EU-US Energy Council Lisbon,
19 November 2010.
Foto: Credit © European Union, 2010 
The future of Ukraine as a transit country was on the top of the Agenda of the EU-US Energy Summit held on 19 November 2010 in Lisbon. In a statement, the European and US officials stated that they expect "a more stable, transparent and efficient energy market in Ukraine". The US and EU also expressed their intention "to seek further progress in the implementation of the March 2009 Joint Declaration on the modernization of the Ukrainian gas transit system that was signed by the European Commission, Ukraine and the International Financial Institutions." The United States and the European Union confirmed their support for Ukraine and "charged the Energy Security Working Group to continue close contacts to support the Government of Ukraine on the following priorities: (1) improving the investment climate to facilitate the development of indigenous oil and gas resources; (2) modernizing the gas transit system; (3) financially restructuring and increasing the transparency of the national oil and gas company, and (4) implementing energy efficiency measures and promoting renewable energies."

One point should be mentioned here: How the mid-term elections in November 2010 in the USA will affect US-Ukrainian relations, in particular energy? “It don’t think it will have a huge impact on the general trend of US policy towards the region,” Chatham House analyst Alex Nice told The Moscow News. And they would just try to avoid conflict on the issues where they don’t coincide. This may not be too hard as America is less interested in Russia’s traditional sphere of influence. “There is declining interest in the countries bordering Russia, Ukraine in particular.

However, before the high-level summit between Ukraine and the European Union, Russian giant GAZPROM has announced that it will form a joint venture with Ukraine's Naftogaz that is to pointedly exclude an EU presence. Alexei Miller added in a personal communique: "The creation of a joint venture is a necessary and absolutely logical step in the business of developing co-operation between the companies. Unlike the multilateral consortium, about which ineffective talks have gone on for many years, our joint venture will become a real instrument of conducting business.", reported. Ukrainian President replied in the light of Russia and Bulgaria signing agreement over South Stream and the proposed Joint Venture between GAZPROM and Naftogaz that "the modernization of Ukrainian gas pipelines was a less costly and more effective alternative to the South Stream gas pipeline project that would transport Russian natural gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and other European countries bypassing Ukraine. (...) Why did you decide to do without us and ignore us? We believe it's not what partners do, it's wrong", KyivPost added.

How and to what extent trilateral aspects are to be integrated into the relations between EU, Ukraine and Russia has always been the real powder keg of these relations.

Brussels or Moscow Vs. Brussels and Moscow

At these difficult times for the European Union and Ukraine, therefore, from both economic and political points of view, taking the correct decisions is far more difficult than in the last view years. Ukraine has been catched between two different types of political leadershiip. Viktor Yanukovich struck a deal with Moscow on the transit of natural gas supplies and extended the lease of Russia’s Black Sea naval base in the Crimea for the next 25 years.

Brussels and Moscow offers differ considerably:
Ukrainian foreign policy catched between Brussels and Moscow.
Author: Hr. Hrisoskulov
  • Brussels attracts Ukraine with an enormous internal market for Ukrainian goods and a free travelling across the 27 member states of the European Union. There are only two main conditions: approximation with European standards and involvement in a multilateral framework.
  • Moscow is trying to re-gain power over the post-soviet republics. Russian politics and business pursue a strategy which includes stronger and closer integration into the country's overall development. The only difference is that approximation with legislative and democratic standards does not feature on the bilateral agenda. In his speech at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Füle, summarized as follow: "We know we are not the only players in the Neighbourhood. There are others who seek to extend their influence in a way that is not always compatible with EU values or the EU acquis."
NATO Summit 2010, Lisbon. Foto:
EU and NATO does not offer Ukraine the security it seeked for when it expressed the wish to join these structures.
"While many in the United States and Europe question the current leadership in Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovych was the clear choice of the Ukrainian people. Moscow has benefitted from Yanukovych’s decisions, such as extending the lease on the Sevastopol naval base for 25 years in exchange for cheap gas. However, one thing is certain: Moscow will over-play its hand and insert itself into the business of its neighbor, where it is unwelcome." (David A. Merkel posted for the Center for European Foreign Analysis)
Therefore it is understandable why Ukraine needs to strenghten its sovereignty to have its own policy based on its national interests. Ukraine is not easy to be understood because it is made up of several parts claiming different foreign policy oriantation. Ukraine needs to take advantage of its competitive advantage: to become an exporting country not only for goods but for formats of balancing, too. The future of the country is as part of a coalition. Ukraine's fundmental interests need to be safe from Russia because Russia is a huge power and Ukraine a small one.

But why? For Andrew Wilson "states like Ukraine are better thought of as balancers rather than joiners. Playing a game of balance between Russia and the west allows the elite to remain in power, and to preserve the oligarchical economy in an otherwise harmful equilibrium of semi-reform. Indeed, local leaders are modern-day Titos, unable or unwilling to join either Europe or Russia. But both Russia and the west are sufficiently interested that they feed the game of balance with enough resources to enable local leaders to fend off rivals and excuse their own lack of reform."

The challenge for Ukraine is to voice out its interests, its strategies and become more assertive in order to exist between two different types of policy making. "Ukraine is not likely to turn itself into a Russia satellite", writes Fredrik Erixon, and underlines: "In fact, the new Ukrainian government has launched an economic reform programme that is very ambitious and, if Kiev delivers on its promises, would make the country the star economic liberaliser in the post-crisis world."

Deep concerns about democracy arise in Germany

The domestic developmnet of Ukraine raised deep concerns in one of the most East-freindly EU member states Germany. German politicians from the governing coalition and from the European Parliament expressed great doubts about the EU-Ukraine relations in terms of visa liberalisation. The member of the European Parliament Elmar Brok said for the online newspaper SpiegelOnline: "The European Union should make clear to the new leadership (in Ukraine) that a European perspective can be given, only when democracy and the rule of law are respected." He emppasized, however: "We must be careful that we do not put Russians better than the Ukrainians on the visa issue."

The foreign policy spokesman of the FDP parliamentary party in the German Bundestag, Rainer Stinner, told the online newspaper SpiegelOnline: "The European Union should very clearly point to the European standards of democracy and human rights, and any threat to these principles will threaten the Ukrainian way to Europe." He underlined, that "Visa liberalisation should be bound by well-defined technical criterias which should be met".

Štefan Füle and Mykola Azarov, Ukrainian Prime Minister.
Foto: Credit © European Union, 2010  
It seems to me that many politicians in the European Union and the member states have the full backing of the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Füle, mostly Eastern Partnership and Ukraine friendly European official. "Often  the  EU  has  shied  away  from  expressing  its  expectations  on  shared  values.  We  should  be  more forceful in underlining that good governance and political reform are not “optional” elements of our policy offer  but  go  hand  in  hand  with  deepened  political  and  economic  relations." (speech held at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament)

The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, used the same approach in challenging the Eastern partners, in particular the security requirements about visa free travelling. In a speech held at the 2nd Civil Society Forum in Berlin, on 19 November 2010, he stated that “(T)he European Union stands for open, democratic, and market-economy orientated societies”. The question is about societies with functioning rule of law and good governance practices, and a working plan for economic modernization.

By contrast German opposition party Alliance 90/ The Greens gives more emphasis to a membership perspective for Ukraine. The paper stressed the importance of respect for democracy and human rights. However, the process of Ukraine's modernisation should be stronger supported by the German government in form of: regular government consultations; additional funding for the Ukrainian civil society; upgrading of cooperation between high schools and universities in Ukraine and EU; intensifiying town twinning; a roadmap for visa-free regime for short stay travel. Alliance 90/ The Greens statement is important because of the present situation about conducted election polls pointing to a clear gain in political influence for the opposition.

What about the European orientation of Ukraine?

Dr. Elena Korosteleva of the Department of International Politics at the University of Aberystwyth conducted national surveys among the populations of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. In Ukraine, the majority of respondents disapprove of the Westward orientation of Ukraine's foreign policy. Instead, they favour balanced relations with both Russia and the EU. Opinion towards unification with Russia is divided according to regional differences: whilst West Ukraine unanimously supports European integration, the south and east of the country are more pro-Russia orientated. Positive emotions with regard to the EU were evoked in less than half of Ukrainian respondents, with a third stating negative feelings. Overall, EU relations with Ukraine are evaluated rather negatively. Ukrainians believe the EU considers Ukraine to be a backward, weak, second-rate country, the study reveals. (

All the democracy and human rights observers like Transparency International or Reporters without borders issued a warning about the democratic development of Ukraine. The last local elections in Ukraine (31 October 2010) raised deep concerns in the European Parliament, too. The EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee published a report on the occasion of the local and regional elections of 31 October 2010, on 17 November 2010. However, the Committee was not entirely negative in its assessment. The October local election was perceived as a problem in Ukraine, as it prevented civil society from entering the political debate and gaining political experience: "Nevertheless one should stress that the 31 October 2010 local and regional elections in  Ukraine  did  not  create  a  new  positive  standard", the report outlined.

"The main problem emerging from the recent decline of democracy is not that Ukraine is becoming more and more frustrating to watch for Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian democrats. The main issues arising from Yanukovych’s recent policies are the growing estrangement between Ukraine’s civil society and central government, between the country’s west and east, as well as between the political and intellectual elites of Ukraine, on the one side, and the rest of Europe, on the other.", writes Andreas Umland in an article for the Ukrainian "The Day" ("День").

Bringing Ukraine back on track: the outcome of the EU-Ukraine summit

Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, Štefan Füle.
Foto: Credit © European Union, 2010 
The Ukrainian delegation was led by the Ukrainian President Viktor Janukovych, accompanied by the Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, the Energy and Fuel Minister Yuri Boiko, and the Chief of Presidential Staff Serhiy Lyovochkin. For the EU this will be the first summit with Ukraine to be organised under the arrangements introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. The permanent President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, the President of the European Commisson, José Manuel Barroso, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy, Stefan Füle, and the Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, attended the Summit.

The European Commission announced:
  • an action plan for Ukraine aiming at establishing a visa-free regime for short stay travel as a long-term perspective; at the same time, the document will require that Ukraine fulfill its requirements of controlling borders, migration, provision of refuge and the security and protection of documents;
  • a protocol that gives Ukraine access to EU programs;
  • accession to the Energy Community; review progress in the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation (5th Joint EU-Ukraine Report on energy cooperation), as well as the modernization of Ukraine's gas transit system;
  • progress in the negotiations of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement
The EU-Ukraine Summit held on 22 November was the 14th meeting between the two sides. The European Union was able to gradually extend in some cases the framework of cooperation. Efforts to achieve initial small advances should accordingly be continued. However, the success of the EU-Ukrainian relations depends also on the domestic perfromances in the European Union and Ukraine. Whithout giving a membership perspective the EU is seeking a progressive integration into policy areas governed by the European Union such as the Single European Market and Freedom, Security and Justice policy. EU-Ukrainian cooperation efforts significantly contribute to the upgrading of relations in the mentioned areas and reduce to some extent Member States influence.

The most important thing for the European Union is to bring Ukraine back on the European track. The European officials have to recognize Ukraine's choice, whatever this choice may be, but concentrating on further support for its economy modernization, strengthening the Ukrainian civil society and freedoms, and consistently improving aspects of the democratisation process.

"What is needed is an "EU listening tour" of the region, in which leaders from EU states start taking into account the political and security concerns of the region and incorporate them in the emerging discussion between the U.S., Russia, and the EU on the new European security architecture." (Andrew Wilson/ Nicu Popescu for the Wall Street Journal Europe, The Summer of Eastern Europe's Discontent) In a similar manner, Andreas Umland said: "Brussels will now have to find a new tone in its negotiations with Kyiv. It needs to make sure that it neither pushes away the Ukrainian leadership as a negotiation partner for the near future, nor loses the Ukrainian state as a member of the European community of democratic countries."


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14th EU-Ukraine Summit (Brussels, 22 November 2010): Joint Press Statement (Link:

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Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden/ Swedish Institute of International Affairs 23 November 2010: "Our initiative together with Poland in the spring of 2008 on the Eastern Partnership is one of the most important of all European initiatives during these years. And it is absolutely clear that we feel a special responsibility for continuing to move it forward, together with Poland, in the coming years. The summit with the Eastern Partnership countries in Budapest in May will be very important. The possibility of European integration is crucial to their future prospects." (Link:

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