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24. 11. 2017 23:04

European leaders confirmed the support of six East European countries at the Eastern Partnership summit

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka attended the Eastern Partnership summit, 24 November 2017. Source: The European Union.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka attended the Eastern Partnership summit, 24 November 2017. Source: The European Union.
On Friday, 24 November 2017, the Eastern Partnership summit took place in Brussels. The Czech Republic was represented there by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Heads of state and prime ministers of EU countries agreed at the summit on a set of important measures that should be implemented by 2020.

The Eastern Partnership initiative is focused on relations between the European Union and six East European countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. One of the countries establishing the initiative in 2009 was the Czech Republic. Today's summit was the fifth since that establishment.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that strong cooperation with East European partners was one of the long-term priorities of Czech foreign policy. "The process of eastern partnership was launched eight years ago when, at the time of Czech presidency of the European Union, the first summit took place and the Czech Republic met for the first time with countries that form a part of today's Eastern Partnership. Since then, significant progress has been made. We have an association agreement signed and ratified with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and also the visa liberalisation is in place. The aim of the European Union should be that it is bordered on the east by a zone of stability, prosperity and peace. In its foreign policy, the Czech Republic holds a firm view that the annexation of Crimea was a serious violation of international law and it is not something Europe should accept. At the same time, the sanctions against Russia, adopted in connection with the annexation of Crimea, are very closely linked with the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Those sanctions cannot be cancelled without achieving progress, without fulfilling those agreements, and without clearly setting the rules in terms of the relationship with Ukraine and Russia,“ said the Prime Minister.

The Czech Prime Minister also emphasised at the meeting the importance of developing civil society and media independence for the development of the Eastern Partnership countries, which is fostered by activities of the Civil Society Forum and the team of East StratCom.

The summit themes included cooperation in defence and security and cultural cooperation. According to the Prime Minister, the Czech Republic supports the involvement of the partner countries in the programmes Erasmus+ and Creative Europe.

The summit has resulted in a joint declaration of the participating countries and in a document that defines the objectives of cooperation up to 2020. In the next three years, the countries should focus e.g. on strengthening economic links, cooperating in digital issues or reinforcing infrastructure.

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