EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from the six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) held a virtual meeting on Thursday to prepare for the video conference of EaP leaders scheduled for 18 June 2020.
High Representative Josep Borrell chaired the video conference with the participation of EU Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi.
The ministerial video conference took place one year after the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, providing an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and future challenges and following publication of the Joint Communication on the future of the Eastern Partnership in March 2020.
Ministers confirmed the strategic importance of the relationship between the EU and the Eastern Partnership, and their strong commitment to continue developing it. They also expressed mutual solidarity and support to handle the health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They then had a first exchange of views on the EaP long-term agenda in order to prepare the ground for the development of concrete and operational post-2020 deliverables, building on the Joint Communication on the Eastern Partnership policy beyond 2020 and the related Council Conclusions.
Ministers agreed to keep working on future deliverables in the coming months, in order for these to be presented and endorsed at the physical EaP Summit due to take place in 2021.
The debate then focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministers recalled that the EU response in the Eastern Partnership region was part of a global operation involving cooperation through multilateral efforts.
The EU put forward approximately € 1 billion as support to the six EaP partner countries within the Team Europe package with the objective of providing immediate relief in the fight against the virus, but also medium-term measures to address the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.
Finally ministers also touched on the ‘infodemic' phenomenon linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, that had led to fake news, disinformation and misinformation being spread on a daily basis and impacting on the lives of citizens and agreed on the need to promote access to fact-based information and raise awareness about the harm of disinformation.
source: commonspace.eu with the press service of the European External Action Service
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