Elections as an indicator of openness to political reforms

December 13 in Brussels, the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of 27 European Union countries and their counterparts from six post-Soviet countries participating in the EU initiative "Eastern Partnership".

The meeting was also attended by the European Commissioner Stefan Fule, Representatives of the European Commission, the Vice-President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the representative of the European Investment Bank.

The meeting was chaired starshynyavannem head of EU foreign policy, the Vice-President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton.

5 partner countries, including Russia, were represented by foreign ministers, Azerbaijan — Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

One of the topics of discussion was the simplification of the visa regime for the partner countries. Angela Philotas, a spokesman for the European Commissioner Stefan Fule said in an interview with our radio:

Angela Philotas

Philotas: For all countries Eastern Partnership is our long-term goal is to get their citizens to travel to the EU for three months without a visa. This is a long process. For example, in Armenia, we are just now prepared the launch of negotiations on the agreement on simplification of visa regime with Belarus and we are several steps behind the situation with Armenia … However, we have the intention to do the same, even with Belarus, because ordinary citizens will be the first to benefit from this

When asked how long will this process, Ángel Philotas replied:

Philotas: It's hard to say. It depends on the partner countries, as well as the EU Member States, which must approve the process. However, we are talking about the importance of reforms that partner countries should do. As a rule, it is about the years … They must ensure that their borders, they must enter a specific type of passports, etc. We also need to be sure that the citizens of these countries will understand the difference between traveling without a visa and getting a job. This program does not have a visa to the opening of the EU labor market for the partner countries

When asked about the attitude of the European Union for the presidential elections to be held in Belarus in next Sunday's press secretary said the European Commissioner:

Philotas: The EU does not have a bilateral agreement on partnership and cooperation with Belarus. To have a bilateral agreement, the parties have to share common values. We are talking about democratic reforms, protection of human rights, everything that does not exist in Belarus. That is why it is so important to us that this election may be an opportunity for the current government to show that it is open to political reform. We want the elections to be free and democratic, the opposition was able to enjoy a full campaign and be an equal partner of the government.

According to the official report of the meeting of the Ministers stressed that the partnership is based on the principles of international
rights and fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Ministers also stressed the strategic importance of the Eastern Partnership as a way of deepening and strengthening relations between the EU and partner countries, accelerate political association and further economic integration and support for the political and socio-economic reforms of the partner.

The Ministers welcomed the strengthening of bilateral relations with a number of partners, as evidenced by the progress in the negotiations on the Association Agreement and the steps towards greater mobility of people.

The Ministers noted with satisfaction the improvement in the coordination of international financial institutions and other donors in an attempt to achieve a more coherent and integrated approach to the countries of the Partnership.

The Ministers expressed their support for a more active participation of civil society in the technical work of the multilateral negotiations of "Eastern Partnership", with the active role of the Civil Society Forum of "Eastern Partnership". At the meeting, the representative of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership, "which introduced the ministers of the findings and recommendations of the meeting, the Forum held in Berlin on 18 -19 November 2010.

Ministers held an initial discussion on the possible areas in which cooperation within the Eastern Partnership can be extended. One of the directions indicated by the simplification of visa regime for students, academics and businessmen.

In May 2011, held in Budapest summit of the EU and the partner countries.

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