By virtue of its location, Greece is uniquely positioned as a bridge linking the Eastern and the Mediterranean dimensions of Europe’s Neighborhood Policy and has promoted the development of both since the ENP’s inception. Therefore, we are very supportive of the strengthening of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) envisaged in the new Neighborhood Policy, based on our shared principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
The re-launching and re-energizing of the Eastern Partnership, and of the European Neighborhood Policy as a whole, was long overdue. It was necessary in order to better respond to serious common challenges – political, economic, geostrategic, environmental or pertaining to security and energy – but also in order to better prepare for the future.
Structural reforms, internal political tensions, gas routes, energy supply, ecological risks, economic development, illegal immigration and organized crime, are only some of the challenges we are faced with in the framework of the Eastern Neighborhood Policy. Our engagement in the Eastern Neighbourhood is also a matter of consistency and credibility for the EU. Our strategic goal is and will remain the creation of a wider area of stability and prosperity, both in the South as well as in the East. This could only be done by boosting mutually beneficial institutional cooperation and by converging on a set of common values and standards, modeled on the EU positive paradigm and experience.
Two years after the Prague Declaration and three months after initiating a new, more ambitious European Neighbourhood Policy, this is the right moment to upgrade the Eastern Partnership. The promotion of the relations with our Eastern Partners, differentiated according to their needs, but also following the pace of reform and performance, will be the cornerstone for a new, more dynamic and result-driven Eastern Partnership.
Today we must send a strong, forward-looking message, for an ambitious Eastern Partnership in the framework of the new ENP. This Summit can be a milestone event for putting our relationship with our eastern partners on a new footing. Following the EU Council Conclusions (Foreign Affairs Council of 20.6.11), while acknowledging the European aspirations and the European choice of some of our partners, we should reconfirm our continued special interest for the region and our will to enhance our cooperation in all sectors by making full use and exploiting the potential of the instruments existing within the ENP/EaP.
A limited number of realistic, common, short and medium-term priority objectives, preferably in sectors of particular interest and with tangible results for the citizens (e.g. mobility, visas, tourism or energy) should be set by the Summit. We will then be able to focus on their prompt and effective implementation, to our common benefit. Too much ambition in this respect could prove counterproductive. It is useful to keep in mind that the prospect of gradual economic integration of partners into the EU’s internal market, once the relevant conditions are met, always remains open, as a long term goal.
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