IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The international conference entitled “The Eastern Partnership Conference: Towards a European Community of Democracy, Prosperity and a Stronger Civil Society” took place in Warsaw
The international conference entitled “The Eastern Partnership Conference: Towards a European Community of Democracy, Prosperity and a Stronger Civil Society” took place in Warsaw on Thursday, 29 September, as an event accompanying the Eastern Partnership summit, which is one of the most important events of the Polish presidency.
The conference was organised by the Polish Institute of International Affairs, the Centre for Eastern Studies and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. It attracted considerable interest and was attended by a number of important guests, including: Radosław Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland; Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy; Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament; and representatives of other EU institutions, officials from EU member states and the Eastern Partnership countries, and many international experts.
Minister Sikorski said that “Poland sees Belarusians as a European nation. Therefore, it will strive for the most generous offer for Belarus, although this offer can only be launched once criminals are held in Belarusian prisons, not the opposition. Belarusian opposition is our partner. The Belarusian nation, our brothers, our European neighbours, can be assured that there is an alternative to authoritarian rule. The stronger Belarusian civil society, the more feasible this alternative.”
Nick Clegg observed in turn that a united European Union should stand “shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners in the East.… Of course, it would be totally wrong to lower the bar for membership. But we can help nations straining to reach it.… using integration to support reform.”
EU Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle noted that the EaP was “a platform for exchange of experience in various spheres.” He admitted that not all EaP countries had fulfilled the hopesand some were even disappointing. The EU will expand cooperation with those EaP partner countries that have begun to introduce reforms, according to the “more for more” rule. He added thatthe Eastern countries had a long-term perspective of membership.
The President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, stressed in turn that civil society was of fundamental value to the success of the Eastern Partnership initiative.
Ulad Vialichka, co-chair of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum: