Stenbock House, 18 June 2020 – At a video meeting of the leaders of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas emphasised the importance of the Eastern Partnership, which supports the improvement of security, stability, and the level of prosperity in the EU’s neighbouring countries.
“In these difficult times, we have seen that to fight the pandemic effectively, we need European cooperation. I am pleased that we have been able to help our Eastern partners in the fight against COVID-19. However, more can be done. For example, we should consider developing digital solutions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic,” said Ratas.
The prime minister emphasised that resilience to crises is important when facing external as well as internal threats. “It would increase the security in the region in general. There can be no stability and prosperity without security,” said Ratas.
In his speech, the prime minister also emphasised the importance of combating disinformation. “During the pandemic, we saw it become even more important,” said the prime minister. According to Ratas, we should also not forget about frozen conflicts, such as the continued occupation of Georgian territories and the aggression against Ukraine.
There are many ways to support the Eastern partners according to Ratas, especially in the field of economy and IT. “Trade between our countries is increasing rapidly, but there is still much to be done in integrating our partners into the European internal market, including the digital single market,” said Ratas, encouraging the Eastern partners to keep adopting new reforms.
According to Ratas, an individual approach to Eastern partners would offer more opportunities for cooperation to the countries that are more successful in implementing reforms, but all partners should be involved.
According to Ratas, the Eastern partners have made progress in implementing the 20 goals set for 2020 during the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union. These goals are divided into areas of economic development and market opportunities, strengthening institutions and good governance, connectivity, energy efficiency, the environment and climate change, and mobility and people-to-people contacts.
“These results have had a positive impact on the daily lives of people in the Eastern Partnership countries. Now we have to move forward and agree on specific activities for the coming years,” said Ratas and confirmed Estonia’s readiness to contribute to improving the living standards of the people of the Eastern Partnership countries.
The Eastern Partnership countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus.