"We attach great importance to strategic partnership with the Eastern Partnership countries," European Council President Charles Michel at a press conference following the Summit of Eastern Partnership countries in format of video conference, APA reports.
According to him, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting with the leaders of the Eastern Partnership countries did not take place this time. However, the summit took place in video conference format: "We discussed various issues at this meeting. Of course, the first issue was the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The second issue we touched upon was a strategic partnership, and the other issue was the future of our cooperation."
The President of the EU Council said that the discussions highlighted the financial support of 1 billion euros to the EU's partners in the region in connection with COVID-19: "As you know, in addition to financial support, we have also provided support to our partners in the region in the delivery of medical supplies."
"As for the strategic partnership, this summit is also an indication that we attach great importance to this partnership. At this meeting, the leaders of the partner countries expressed their political will to create a region of democracy, prosperity, development and stability. Our common values are based on the rule of law, the international order and international law.
The Eastern Partnership is one of the EU's foreign policy priorities, and it will continue to be so in the years to come. Democracy, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality, structural reform and the fight against misinformation are EU priorities, and we promote these priorities in cooperation with partner countries," he said.
Touching upon economic relations with the Eastern Partnership countries, the President of the EU Council noted that the Eastern Partnership countries together are the EU's 10th largest trading partner in the world: "The EU, in turn, is the main trading partner of four of these partner countries, and the second-largest trading partner for the other two countries.
The Association Agreements we have signed with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova accelerate the political and economic integration of these countries into Europe.
Our negotiations on a new agreement with Azerbaijan are at the highest stage. We have recently completed an agreement with Belarus on visa liberalization, which will come into force in early July."
The President of the EU Council noted that another issue discussed at the conference in a virtual format was the preparations for the summit to be held in Brussels in March 2021.
"We have identified five key priorities for working together to adopt a joint statement at next year's summit in Brussels," Charles Michel said.