Nordic and Baltic Foreign Ministers issue joint statements on the EU Eastern Partnership and the situation in Syria

At the Nordic Baltic Eight (NB8) Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Visby today, the Nordic and Baltic Foreign Ministers expressed support for the Eastern Partnership countries and concern over the Syrian crisis.

“This year, the Nordic and Baltic countries have been dedicating a lot of attention to the Eastern Partnership countries, which are seeking an increasingly close relationship with the EU. We encourage them to have no doubts about their chosen path and to take advantage of all the opportunities offered to them. At the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November, we hope to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, and to initial analogous agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, which will help to promote rapprochement between these countries and the EU,” the Lithuanian Foreign Minister L.Linkevičius said after the NB8 meeting.

The Ministers of the eight countries issued a joint statement, expressing their firm support for the objectives of the EU Eastern Partnership policy and acknowledging the important results achieved so far. The Ministers express full support to the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November, provided that Ukraine demonstrates tangible progress. They are also looking forward to the initialling of the Association Agreements with Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia at the Vilnius Summit on 28 and 29 November, as well as to their signatures when conditions are met already in 2014.

The Ministers stressed that any economic threat or political pressure directed against Eastern partners because of their engagement with the EU was unacceptable.

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister underlined that this statement was very important: “It is important that the Nordic and Baltic countries, members and non-members of the EU, support the European integration aspirations of our Eastern partners and the success of the European project,” the Foreign Minister said.

In Visby, the Ministers also discussed the situation in Syria and strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons, and stressed that the international community must respond appropriately. In the joint statement, the countries unanimously draw attention of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Note that failure to respond will send a wrong signal to the offenders and will affect the credibility of the UN.

“All the permanent members of the UNSC are parties to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The Convention prohibits the use of chemical weapons. The Convention and membership in Security Council obliges the members to take an exclusive responsibility for this,” L.Linkevičius said.

During the meeting, the Ministers were acquainted with Sweden’s interim report on the NB8 activities, reviewing all the significant results of the Nordic and Baltic cooperation achieved during this year.

This year, the Nordic and Baltic countries implemented a number of new initiatives for the development of closer relations between the region and its neighbouring countries. This year, a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Baltic, Nordic and the Visegrad countries was held for the first time in Gdansk, which discussed common challenges for both regions.

The joint Nordic-Baltic nuclear safety exercise took place in Finland, cyber security experts of the eight countries established contacts.

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