“Ten years ago, many of us here contributed to establishing the Eastern Partnership, although some of us in different capacities than today,” said President of the EU Council Donald Tusk on 13 May, at the celebratory dinner dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. “It was based on the recognition that your countries have their own distinct and unique connections to the European Union, and that this should be given political expression.”
“Both the idea and the name, Eastern Partnership, were conceived in the Polish ministry of foreign affairs under Radek Sikorski, in close collaboration with our Swedish friends, Carl Bildt in particular,” Tusk added.
Tusk acknowledged that the Eastern Partnership has had its successes, challenges, “and also moments of high drama, as in November 2013, during the summit in Vilnius, where President Yanukovych rejected Ukraine’s Association Agreement, which he later bitterly regretted”.
“Today, after ten years, we can reflect on our achievements,” Tusk highlighted. “Three of the six Eastern Partnership countries have Association Agreements that include deep and comprehensive trade areas. They also have visa-free arrangements with the EU.”
He added that billions of euros have been spent on border management, connectivity, environment and energy efficiency, support for business, legal advice, and education. He further noted that young people from the Eastern partner countries participate in Erasmus.
“Much more still needs to be done, but there is no doubt that our partner countries have come closer to the EU, more than our other neighbours,” Tusk underlined.
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