European Parliament calls for more support to eastern partners, rejects Russia’s role in association process

The outcome of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit of 29 November shows that the EU must do more to support the European aspirations of its eastern partners, MEPs have said in a resolution adopted today. They urged the December EU Council to send a strong political signal that the door to the EU is still open, despite Ukraine's failure to sign the Association Agreement.
The resolution said the EU must use all the tools it has, including aid, trade, visa waivers and energy-security projects in a “more strategic and flexible policy" to support its eastern partners choosing to strengthen their ties with Europe.
Parliament condemned the Russian pressure exerted on Ukraine, Armenia and other eastern partners to deter them from signing agreements with the EU, urging the EU and member states to respond. It called on the Commission to consider counter-measures if Russia breaks World Trade Organization rules with politically motivated trade sanctions against the EU and its partners.
Ukraine – a missed opportunity
MEPs deplored the decision by Ukraine’s President Yanukovych not to sign the Association Agreement, calling it a "major missed opportunity". They underlined their continued support for it, provided the necessary conditions are met, and called on the December Council to send a strong political signal that the EU remains ready to engage with Ukraine.
MEPs voiced their solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine and condemned the "brutal and unacceptable" use of force by security forces on the nights of 9, 10 and 11 December, including during the visit by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.
They demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the protesters arrested and appealed for a top-level EU mediation mission to go to Ukraine.
MEPs also called for a European Parliament mission to Ukraine as soon as possible, and pointed to the democratic possibility in any democracy to call new elections “when renewed popular legitimacy is needed”.
The resolution regretted Armenia's decision to join the Customs Union with Russia, after more than three years of successful association talks with the EU, and urged the Armenian authorities to respect the people's right to protest against it.
Georgia and Moldova - some success
MEPs welcome the initialling of political and trade agreements with Georgia and Moldova at the Vilnius summit and voiced hope they can be signed as soon as possible. They called on the Commission to ensure that the citizens of these countries enjoy some tangible benefits from the deals in the short term.
They welcomed the proposal to allow Moldovan citizens to travel to the EU's Schengen area without visas.
Parliament urged the Azerbaijani parliament to reconsider its decision to freeze participation in the EURONEST parliamentary assembly, following the EP’s criticism of the conduct of the presidential elections. It also voiced concerns about detentions, fresh arrests of opposition activists, and harassment of independent NGOs and media.
Russia has to keep out
Parliament also rejected “very firmly" any proposal to include Russia in association arrangements between the EU and its eastern partners.(EU Neighbourhood Info)
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