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Eastern Partnership to serve EU interests-Barroso in Prague

Eastern Partnership to serve EU interests-Barroso in Prague

Prague - European Commission President Jose Barroso described the EU Eastern Partnership project that was launched at a summit in Prague today as a political initiative serving the European Union strategic interests.

The EU and six post-Soviet countries endorsed their interest in deeper political and economic cooperation in a joint declaration they adopted today.

"It is impossible to pretend that there is nothing east of us," outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said after the end of the 3-hour summit that was for him the last big event at the head of the EU.

There are the countries east of us with their own ambitions and their European aspirations, he said.

The EU representatives repeated several times that the project interfering in the sphere that Russia traditionally perceives as the sphere of its interests was not specifically aimed against anyone.

Eastern Partnership offers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine help with political, economic and social reforms necessary for integration with the EU.

Much should be done and in some countries should be done more than in others, Barroso said, adding that coming closer to European standards would bring these countries greater stability and prosperity.

The EU has pledged to finance projects in these countries from the Partnership programme to which it will earmark 600 million euros by 2013. The EU is offering these countries agreements on associations, free trade zones, a simpler system of the issue of entrance visas to EU countries and other additional economic and social programmes.

Barroso said that new association agreements would be offered to the partners that had made sufficient progress on the path to democracy, the rule of law, respect to human rights and market economy. The Partnership will also enable better economic integration with the EU with the goal of the establishment of a free trade space, he said.

The mobility of east European workforce should be increased through individual simplification or full liberalisation of visa regimes, he said.

Cooperation in energy industry should allow for the increased investment in the relevant infrastructure in these countries and the establishment of the warning systems to prevent cuts in supplies of oil and natural gas, Barroso said.

"The supplementing of the Euro-Atlantic relations and the Mediterranean Union by the Eastern Partnership project was a logical result of the European policy of our close neighbours," Topolanek told journalists.

Barroso and EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said several times at the press conference that the Partnership project was not aimed against anyone.

However, they avoided directly mentioning Russia that views the project with suspicion. Moscow is afraid of expanding of the EU competitive influence on the area which it traditionally considers strategic.

If anyone has a feeling that this Partnership is aimed against anyone or anything he is mistaken. It is the Partnership for cooperation and stability in the important part of Europe, Solana said.

Author: ČTK


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