Closing remarks by Minister Soini at the Eastern Partnership High Level Conference
Closing remarks by Foreign Minister Timo Soini at the High Level Conference on the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. May 14, 2019, Brussels.
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It is my great pleasure to address this high-level conference. This year is an important milestone for our Partnership that has become an integral part of the EU’s foreign policy. I would like to thank Romania, the External Action Service, the Commission and all the other stakeholders for organizing this important conference.
The principles for our Partnership adopted in 2009 in Prague are still valid. Our common values have been the anchor of cooperation and contributed to enhancing stability, prosperity and security in our Eastern neighborhood.
The Partnership has proved its significance during these ten years. Today we can congratulate each other for our joint successes. The relations between the EU and the partner countries are deeper than before.
We are not just neighbors and partners, but Europeans and friends united by the same commitments, values and dreams for a better future for our citizens and countries.
When comparing the present state of cooperation to our starting point, we can agree without any hesitation, that our Partnership has delivered significant results. Improving governance, enhancing economic cooperation, free trade, connectivity, mobility, students’ exchange and resilience are good examples. The cooperation has delivered positive and concrete results both in the partner countries and in the EU. That is something we should all be proud of.
At the same time, more remains to be done. In order to guarantee the irreversibility of the reforms achieved, the foundations of the societies have to be sustainable. Trust in the political and judicial institutions is key. This is achieved by necessary political and judicial reforms. They require total commitment and ownership by the political leaders of our partners and must enable all stakeholders such as the civil society and independent media to join the process. You can count on the EU’s support. As mentioned many times before, our support will continue to depend on your performance.
The Eastern Partnership is our joint effort. For this reason, it is essential that the reflection of the Partnership beyond 2020 is done together.
There is no denial that we have some different priorities, ambitions and aspirations for the future cooperation. The discussions yesterday and today have once again shown this. Let us have thorough and open consultations, but at the same time keep in mind the need for compromises. Once we have renewed our commitment and agreed on the future basis for the cooperation, I am confident that the Eastern Partnership will remain both ambitious and attractive to all of us. I believe that at the end our shared commitments are stronger than the dividing ones.
Finland is taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in July. I would like to thank Romania for your hard work and dedication to the Eastern Partnership. Our own program will be finalized once our new government has been sworn in.
What comes to the Eastern Partnership, resilience will be the main theme during our Presidency. The focus will be on education, rule of law, media and hybrid. We are organizing a ministerial meeting on education in November in Brussels. We are inviting partner countries to attend expert level conferences and seminars in Helsinki on education, rule of law and hybrid. We are also planning to organize an event in December in Helsinki, that will concentrate on media education and tackling disinformation.
I would like to congratulate our partner countries, EU institutions, member states, civil society, parliaments and regional actors for the work done so far for our Partnership. This is my last Eastern Partnership event in my present capacity as the Foreign Minister of Finland. I want to thank you all for excellent cooperation during the past four years. It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with you.
I am confident that the Partnership will be successful also in the future. I strongly believe that our joint efforts will be fruitful and benefit all of us.
I wish you all good luck in your important work.