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Brussels, 22 July 2013
Closing remarks by Štefan Füle Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy at the Eastern Partnership Ministerial Meeting
'Allow me to welcome the very good participation and the engaging discussion we have had today. On the substance of the discussions, the contributions from our partners were interesting and clearly defined. Furthermore, the interventions by all confirmed our joint commitment to common values and principles.
I would like to emphasize that there is still a lot of work to be done and that we should not waste time. Much is at stake – we share the same expectation that the Vilnius summit will deliver on our ambitious goals. However, our expectations must also be realistic. We all want a strong declaration and clear deliverables. We are doing all that is possible to enable the subsequent signing of the Agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia as soon as the technical procedures are completed.
It is important to emphasize that we are all working towards strengthening the principles of joint ownership, mutual accountability and self-differentiation. While we have heard some of our partners referring to a European perspective, which we fully acknowledge and respect, others have defined the aim as the irreversibility of a choice. It is necessary to underline to all that democracy is an open-ended process where it is better to focus on imminent steps.
We all agreed on the significance and need for an inclusive process of negotiations of the Summit Declaration and preparations for the Summit itself. You have the commitment of the EU and its Member States in this regard.
There is a shared understanding that we will not force upon partners the dilemma of having to choose between relations with the East and relations with the West. That would constitute a false dilemma. We need to be serious about the way in which we communicate to society and the messages that are conveyed. Communication is central in dispelling false claims and providing the necessary information. The EU will help in this regard with both technical expertise and financial assistance.
The period after Vilnius should focus on implementation of the new Agreements and on the midterm strategic goals under the guidance of the Association Agendas. Primary focus should be given to the notion of a common economic area, as bilateral Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas are implemented.
I would like to express my recognition and appreciation of many important stakeholders, including Euronest, Committee of Regions, Corleap, Economic and Social Committee, Civil Society Forum, EIB and EBRD and their valuable interventions. Their role in the Eastern Partnership is invaluable and their importance cannot be underestimated. I hope and expect this to be further strengthened and I would strongly encourage greater interaction between them and our partners' governments.
Finally, we have a busy calendar ahead of us until the Summit in Vilnius. I wish you all a very productive period.'