While closely watching the conflict in Ukraine, officials say they are looking forward to solidifying relationships with the European Union.
By Rati Mujiri for Southeast European Times -- 11/07/14
Romania Prime Minister Victor Ponta (centre) greets Georgia Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Tulcea, Romania. [frontpage.ge]
The Kremlin-fed conflict in eastern Ukraine is prompting some nations in eastern Europe to renew and solidify their interest in formalising their relationships with the European Union.
The prime ministers of Romania, Georgia, Moldova, the Czech Republic and Serbia recently met in eastern Romania to affirm support for EU membership and to discuss developments in the EU's Eastern Partnership.
Georgia Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili discussed the growing relationship between the EU and eastern European partners.
"We, for our part, have proved our commitment to the European path by implementing successful reforms and modernising our society in line with European norms and standards. We are steadfast in our pursuit of European integration, which is indeed the cornerstone of our foreign and domestic politics. I would like to emphasise that Georgia's European choice stems from the support of 85 percent of the country's population and all major political parties," Garibashvili told reporters after the meeting.
Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta expressed satisfaction because of the visit of ministers and confirmed his support to Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.
Officials from Romania, Georgia, Moldova, the Czech Republic and Serbia meet reporters during a break in their discussions. [Rati Mujiri/SETimes]
Ponta discussed EU assistance and benefits, which partner countries will receive from the partnership.
"I'm glad to welcome here prime ministers and share their experience. Soon they will sign association agreements with EU. It's very important. Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova are on their way to Europe. Democratic reforms are taking place and we always support these countries. Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova are moving to a new stage and getting closer to the EU."
Ukraine's prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was also invited to Romania, but could not attend because of the unrest in his country. Ukraine signed the association agreement on June 27th and officials in Kiev are discussing the positive changes it will bring to the country.
"It opens opportunity on those goods on which there are tariff quotas. Because today we use them within trade preferences and as soon as the agreement comes into force, autonomous trade preferences will stop the action. We'll be able to use these quotas one more time, but now under the agreement," said Valery Pyatnitsky, Ukraine's commissioner for European integration.
Political analysts in Tbilisi underline that these kinds of meetings are important for the future development of eastern Europe.
"After the signature of the agreement we will have a very interesting period. Georgia and eastern partnership countries must carry reforms and move closer politically to each other," Tornike Sharashenidze, co-ordinator of school of law and politics at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, told SETimes.
"In this way the position of separate countries is always important. It's the separate countries and their leaders, who also are members of different alliances, who take concrete decisions. That's why it's a very interesting step from Romania to host the meeting. They have good experience and know well what it means to get rid of Russian influence. Romania always shows a strong position and supports Georgia and its neighbour Moldova."
How will the Kremlin-backed conflict in Ukraine effect eastern European countries who are interested in joining the EU? Add your thoughts in the comment space below.