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Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus: The European Union should be more ambitious within its neighbourhood

17.03.2015

At today's European Union Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, where the European Union's Eastern Partnership policy was under discussion, Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus called on all member states to ratify the Association Agreements with Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova ahead of the Riga Summit. According to the foreign minister, it would be an important message from the European Union. The EU foreign ministers also discussed European Union-Africa relations and the crisis situation in Libya.

Estonia's foreign minister reiterated that it is important that the Riga summit on May 21st and 22nd give a clear message of Eastern Partnership as a long-term strategy and public policy which continues to hold an important place in the EU foreign policy. Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus estimates that the most concrete outcomes to come out of the Riga Summit will likely be regarding visa dialogue. “A decision regarding visa liberalisation with both Georgia and Ukraine should come out of Riga,” Pentus-Rosimannus said. “This would bring the European Union significantly closer to the partner countries,” the foreign minister added.

Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus stressed that Estonia is looking forward to significant steps from the Riga Summit, which will motivate partner countries in their further integration with Europe. Pentus-Rosimannus said that Estonia supports giving the so-called advanced group – Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine – European perspective, which will naturally be supported by the effective implementation of the Association Agreements and progression of reforms. The Estonian Foreign Minister estimates that a better differentiation of policies directed at Eastern Partnership countries is essential.  “The efforts of Eastern Partnership countries in creating a space of common values with the EU must continue and those who are more ambitious and whose development allows for faster progress, must have opportunities,” the foreign minister said. “The other Eastern Partnership countries Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus should be handled individually,” she specified.

On the subject of the partnership between the European Union and Africa, the EU foreign ministers focused on the security situation and the possibilities of cooperation between various partners. Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said that although the threat of terrorism is receding on one side of the continent, it unfortunately is continuing to spread on the continent’s other half. “The main priority in relations with Africa continues to be conflict prevention,” Pentus-Rosimannus said. “On the other hand, more attention needs be paid to the development of economic growth and cooperation; Africa should not only be spoken of only in the context of conflicts,” the foreign minister stressed.

Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said the European Union will contribute to the improvement of the security situation in Africa through various military and civilian missions and also by funding the African Union’s military missions through the African Peace Facility. “Estonia is currently participating in EU and UN missions in Mali and has done so since their inception in 2013,” the foreign minister said. "This year Estonia will increase its contribution to the EU Military Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), as well as to the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali),” Pentus-Rosimannus said.

The European Union foreign policy leaders also weighed in on the crisis situation in Libya, where the conflict between rival armed groups continues and which has resulted in the increased activity of extremist groups and illegal immigration to Europe. The foreign ministers expressed their support for the mediation efforts of United Nations Special Representative Bernardino León in establishing a cease fire and upon being appointed to the national unity government. Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus estimates that the only possible solution to the difficult situation in Libya lies in a balanced political agreement between the country’s key social groups. Libya fell into chaos in the autumn of 2011 after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Additional information:
Marika Post
Press Spokesperson, Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU
+32 474 98 16 57


PRESS DEPARTMENT
(+372) 637 7654
press@mfa.ee
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