More than 400 civil society organisations from Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, including Georgia, are calling on the European Union (EU) to stay true to its values regarding EaP policies and communicate the benefits of EU integration more effectively.
Ahead of next week’s EaP Summit in Riga, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) sent a statement to the EU with several requests. The EU’s membership perspective, visa free regime and empowering civil society in EaP countries were among the key messages for the European Neighbourhood Policy Review.
The statement read that visa free travel to the Schengen area that citizens of Moldova have been enjoying since April 2014 was one of the most tangible EaP achievements and should be extended to Georgia and Ukraine - the countries who signed Association Agreements with the EU last year.
"Any further retreat on the Association Agreements’ implementation by the EU under pressure from Russia will damage the EU’s credibility in the eyes of people in Eastern Partnership countries. The prospect of EU membership for countries that signed the Agreements should be included in the joint declaration of the Riga Summit,” the EaP CSF said.
The civil society organisations’ statement said the latest events in Ukraine, and previously, Russia’s aggression towards Georgia in August 2008 proved that as long as these countries declared European perspectives, they would be hostages of the situation, built by the territorial problems and frozen conflicts resulted from the external aggression.
"We believe the current situation stimulates the Russian aggression further. The Russian Federation takes advantage of the mentioned status quo and by launching an aggressive informational campaign attempts to strengthen the belief among the populations of the Eastern Partnership countries that they have no real chances of joining the EU, which makes the integration with Russia the only realistic option left,” the statement read.
"We urge the European Union and its Member States to explicitly recognise the European perspective for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine at the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit!”
The EaP CSF is a unique multi-layered regional civil society platform aimed at promoting European integration, facilitating reforms and democratic transformations in the six EaP countries - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.