“Visegrad cooperation is of particular importance at a time of pandemic. The Visegrad Group countries are doing well fighting the threat and they should share their experiences in the fight against coronavirus, including with our immediate neighbours in the Eastern Partnership,” Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said after a video conference on Wednesday with his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.
Organised by the Czech Presidency of the Visegrad Group, the talks replaced the planned meeting between the foreign ministers of V4 and Eastern Partnership countries, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ministers underlined the role and special involvement of the Group’s countries in the Eastern Partnership policy and agreed positions in the context of the forthcoming EU Foreign Affairs Council which will cover cooperation with the EU’s eastern partners. They also discussed the main agenda points of the coming summit scheduled for 18 June.
“We cannot leave anyone on their own in this crisis. That is why we supported the European Commission’s proposal to reallocate EUR 140 million of Neighbourhood Policy funds for the immediate needs of the EaP countries in their fight against coronavirus. Ultimately, this amount will exceed as much as EUR 800 million,” emphasised Minister Czaputowicz. “We have also agreed to earmark a portion of the International Visegrad Fund for combating the impact of the pandemic in the partner countries under the V4 East Solidarity programme,” added the minister.
During the video conference, the ministers also adopted a joint statement on the future of the Eastern Partnership, which stresses that the EU’s policy towards the eastern Partners must be credible, dynamic and attractive. It should reflect shared values as fundaments of the Eastern Partnership: rules-based international order and international law, democratic practices, the rule of law and independent judiciary and media, protection of human rights and the rights of persons belonging to minorities, good governance, sustainable development and market economy.
“The Eastern Partnership should continue to be inclusive and support the European aspirations and choices of the Partners concerned and at the same time differentiate on the basis of Partners commitments and aspirations,” emphasised the statement. The ministers declared their readiness to continue supporting and developing the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020. The participants also agreed that, in view of the overall situation in the region, the traditional spring meeting between V4 foreign ministers and their counterparts from the Eastern Partnership countries will be rescheduled for the second half of the year and will be held under the Polish presidency of V4.
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