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Iohannis: We must acknowledge and respect the European aspirations of the Eastern Partnership countries


President Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday that Romania upholds several principles for the future of the Eastern Partnership, including that the European aspirations of member countries must be acknowledged and respected, so as their free and sovereign choices.

"Romania's approach to the future of the Partnership is based on the following principles: firstly, partners must continue to deliver results in the reform process. Positive differentiation - more for more - offers excellent incentives in unlocking new opportunities. In fact, the potential of our partners' relations with the EU are what their partners are doing with it. Secondly, no results should be ruled out as far as their European integration is concerned, as long as the interested partners continue to perform. We must acknowledge and respect their European aspirations and their free and sovereign choices. Thirdly, the EU must respond to the specific needs and interests of its partners," the head of state said at the Eastern Partnership Summit.

President Iohannis also said that the region needs a stronger EU commitment through political support, targeted technical assistance for reforms and adequate funding.

"The EU should also be more involved in contributing to solutions to protracted conflicts, as Romania has consistently argued. (...) We need to focus on strengthening the resilience of our partners, including by stepping up security cooperation and support in security field and for countering the attempts to undermine our democratic values. The EU's investment in these goals should be seen as an investment in the EU's own resilience," Iohannis said.

He stressed that the Republic of Moldova is "a powerful example of what we can achieve if we work together."

"We now have a reformist administration in Chisinau with a strong European commitment. I can personally testify after meeting with President Maia Sandu twice in less than four months. They need our help to succeed. It is a chance which we cannot miss - in the interest of the Republic of Moldova, but also of our Eastern Partnership", the head of state specified.

Iohannis stated that Belarus' decision to suspend its participation in the Eastern Partnership was regrettable and did not reflect the aspirations of its citizens. The President recalled that last year, together with Poland and Lithuania, he proposed the EU Economic Plan, stating that this was the starting point, "once the conditions for its implementation were met".

"The door to our partnership should remain open for a future democratic Belarus," said Klaus Iohannis.

The Sixth Eastern Partnership Summit is chaired by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The meeting is attended by the heads of state and Government of the EU member states, the leaders of the five partner states - the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs. Security Policy, Josep Borrell.

A joint declaration is to be adopted at the summit, which will set out the strategic vision for the post-2020 period of the Eastern Partnership.

At Wednesday's Eastern Partnership summit, the leaders of Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova lobbied for the start of negotiations on their country's accession to the European Union.

Within the Eastern Partnership, the EU provides funding, financial assistance and free trade, but not membership status.