TALLINN – Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas at a video meeting of the leaders of European Union and Eastern Partnership countries on Thursday emphasized the importance of Eastern Partnership that supports the growth of security, stability and prosperity in the European neighborhood.
"In these difficult times, we have seen that we need European cooperation to fight the pandemic effectively," Ratas was quoted by spokespeople as saying. "I am pleased that we have been able to help the 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," he added.
The prime minister highlighted that crisis resilience is important for both external and internal threats. "It would increase the security of the entire region more widely. There can be no stability and prosperity without security," Ratas said.
In his statement, the prime minister also emphasized the fight against disinformation. "During the pandemic, we have seen it become even more important," Ratas said. According to him, frozen conflicts, like the continued occupation of areas of Georgia and the aggression against Ukraine, cannot be forgotten either.
Ratas said that there are several opportunities to support the Eastern Partners, especially in the field of economy and IT. "Our mutual trade is growing quite fast, but we still have a long way to go in integrating our partners into the European internal market, including the digital single market," he said.
According to Ratas, an individual approach to the Eastern Partners would offer more opportunities for cooperation to the countries that are more successful in implementing reforms, but all partners should be involved.
The prime minister said that the Eastern Partners have made progress in implementing the 20 goals set for 2020 during Estonia's presidency of the EU Council. These objectives 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 a positive impact on the daily lives of people in the Eastern Partnership countries. We must now move forward and agree on concrete actions for the coming years," Ratas said, affirming Estonia's readiness to contribute to improving the standard of living of residents of Eastern Partnership countries.
Eastern Partnership countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.