Lolita Čigāne, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee, and Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, are certain that at the Eastern Partnership Summit, held in Riga on 21-22 May, the pivotal role of this Neighbourhood Policy in the European Union’s foreign policy must be reaffirmed. On Monday, 25 May, right after the Summit, the Saeima will host an inter-parliamentary meeting between members of both committees of the Saeima and parliamentarians of the Eastern Partnership countries, namely, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Belarus, in order to assess the results of the Summit.
The inter-parliamentary meeting will be opened by Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, and Inna Šteinbuka, Head of the European Commission Representation in Latvia.
“The parliaments of the Eastern Partnership countries are steering the reforms; therefore, they should be the ones to analyse the outcomes of the Riga Summit,” Lolita Čigāne stressed when asked about the upcoming Summit. She also added that the Saeima has been working very actively on Eastern Partnership issues. “We hope to learn from our Eastern Partnership colleagues how they see the implementation of Summit resolutions and activities leading up to the next Eastern Partnership summit,” said the Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee, and she pointed out that the Summit Declaration must reflect the progress made by the Eastern Partnership countries since the Vilnius Summit and encourage partner countries to continue the reforms.
Talking about the upcoming Riga Summit and next week’s inter-parliamentary meeting, Chairperson Čigāne emphasised that the Eastern Partnership is becoming increasingly more significant. “Eastern Partnership countries need this platform as an agent of change, and at the same time it also serves the needs of the EU. Implementation of regional reforms is the best response to the aggression towards the Eastern Partnership countries.” The Chairperson stressed that everyone expects the Riga Summit to give a clear time frame for visa liberalisation reform in the Eastern Partnership countries.
When asked about the outcomes of the Summit, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee expressed hope that third countries will not make any threats and that the Deep and Comprehensive Trade Area part of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and Europe will come into force on 1 January 2016, as planned. That would be a strong signal that third countries do not have veto power over bilateral agreements between the EU and its Eastern partners.
Chairman Kalniņš, however, clarified that association agreements are not designed to undermine any third country.
Discussion on results of the Riga Summit and the road map for the next Eastern Partnership summit will welcome experts such as Žaneta Ozoliņa, Professor in the Political Sciences Department of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Latvia; Richard Giragosian, Founding Director of the Regional Studies Centre; Andrei Yeliseyeu, Analyst at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies; and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. Lolita Čigāne and Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš will make their closing remarks at the meeting.
The inter-parliamentary meeting will take place on Monday, 25 May, at 9:00 in the Red Room of the Saiema on Jēkaba iela 11.
Saeima Press Service