July 10, 2013
has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled for November in
, yesterday's conference entitled 'European Neighborhood Policy- Eastern Dimension: Progress and Benefits' taking place in the capital itself, aimed to address and analyze many of the areas of difficulty of the six Eastern Neighborhood countries.
Hosted by the EU- Belarus Business Council and chaired by the former Minister for
, much of the discussion centered on what priorities still needed to be put in place and raised several questions specifically in regards to the impact of the signature of the agreements may have on the EU and the countries involved, focusing on
given the extensive challenges they face alongside the scale of problems.
Macshane made reference to the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee which recently passed a resolution, authored by Senator
, urging the Ukrainian government to release former Ukrainian Prime Minister
in light of the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights from
, 2013. Kubilius commented that "this is a symbol of selective justice and lack of a proper justice system in
. Her release could be done in many ways, but it is clear President Yanukovich is afraid of her standing as a candidate in the next elections."
, Director of International Relations and Communications at ARVI Group, added "Yulia in neither the problem nor solution - she is also to be blamed for the situation in
." He also highlighted the bad business climate in
alongside issues with protection of property and the taxation policy.
Making the opening remarks, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Economy,
, pointed out that trade and economic cooperation was the foundation for the partnership's development.
, Lithuanian former Prime Minister added that "free trade agreements are of key value to Eastern Partnership countries and it is a matter of geo-political importance."
However, presenting his views on
, Director of the Kyiv Centre for Political and Conflict Studies argued that "
does not view the programme euphorically, nor would signing the Association Agreement with the EU resolve
problems." In fact, he said "they would create more problems for the country specifically in regards to the economy."
Eduard Musuc, MP from
, highlighted a similar situation in his own country and expressed his doubt on whether the Eastern Partnership would help with progress and changes economically, socially and democratically given that 80% of Moldovans believe they are headed in the wrong direction. He also disagreed with the statement made by the EU that
was a 'success story' of the ENP, but rather emphasized the high level of inflation and corruption still present.
Member of the Citizens Congress for
, Igor Caldare added that "the majority of
600,000 million Euros
over the last three years by the EU have either been stolen or extorted."
In his notes, Spanish MP and member of the Foreign Affairs Commission,
Jose Lopez Garrid
called for stricter budget control by the EU especially during the current uncertain economic climate and emphasized a need for funding policies such as the ENP to be strictly monitored.
Concluding the conference, Macshane raised the question of whether all six ENP countries should be treated in the same manner or whether a more constructive approach would be considering the singing of the Assocation Agreements with each country at a time when they are ready.