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Good morning dear Ministers [Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, David Zalkaliani; acting Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, Aureliu Ciocoi; and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba], dear friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Brussels this morning.
You know very well that the European Union attaches its utmost importance to its relations with the Eastern partners and we consider the region a priority for our support and commitment. And I am sure that today, the European Council will reaffirm this importance and our attachment.
Let me first state very clearly that the European Union should be proud that our partners want to move closer to us, want to move closer to the European Union, and even to join it.
Too often, within the European Union, we take for granted what we have managed to create: an area of prosperity, security and opportunity for all.
Our Union is not perfect, but that membership is seen as a strategic objective for many countries is a great compliment.
I am Spanish, and coming from Spain I can tell you that when we were out of the European Union we were really willing to become part of it. Because we understood that it was a way forward to a better and more secure future.
So I have to welcome the closer coordination between Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, as well as their request for enhanced cooperation with the European Union.
A crucial aspect of our Eastern Partnership is building links not only between the European Union and our partner countries, but also among them - among the partners themselves. And that is good.
And with each of you, not only do we cooperate in the Eastern Partnership, but we also have Association Agreements, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas.
These agreements are the most comprehensive that the European Union has with any other partner - with any of its partners. They commit us to strengthening our political association and economic integration - which we have been doing.
The full implementation of these agreements is key to exploit all the opportunities they offer, for example further trade exchanges, more security cooperation - and today especially in the new fields of disinformation, cyber and hybrid threats - on environment, and connectivity; as we have been saying, this is becoming the word of the day.
Let me also say that coming closer to the European Union will require a work from both sides. In each of your countries, you know that there are key reform areas that require swift, thorough and sincere improvements. We can only approximate legislation, to deepen cooperation, and advance on joint work if these reforms are fully enacted and enforced.
We are standing by each of you respectively in these efforts and support you politically and financially. A last word about our partners’ responsibility to implement reforms.
This year is an important year for the Eastern Partnership. Together with the Commission, we are in the process of finalising the post-2020 agenda, which contains concrete deliverables and targets.
Our Eastern Partnership summit will take place in December. I understand that all of us are sorry for the fact that it has [previously] been postponed, as has also happened with other summits. But in December, when this summit will take place, we will have an opportunity to set this new agenda in motion, and to agree on a common vision for the future.
We are looking forward, dear colleagues, dear friends, to developing relations based on the principles of inclusivity and differentiation. Both have to be taken together and this will require flexibility from both parts.
I count on you, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, to play a full and constructive part in this. And I am also looking forward to have the opportunity, once the virus allows us to travel, to visit you soon and to share with you these concerns and objectives.
Thank you very much for your visit to Brussels.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-208102