European Union and United States have expressed their full support to the countries of the former Soviet Union who have chosen the path towards Europe and warned Russia that the pressure exerted by the counterweight is unacceptable.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the meeting of the 28 European Union foreign ministers on Saturday in Vilnius characterised the Eastern European Partnership Program as an “economically important” for improving trade rules and promote job employment.
According to the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevicius, all its European counterparts have expressed solidarity with the six states in the program, but he warned that Russia will increase pressure on the lead partner, which is Ukraine. Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova are also mentioned.
“The spoken language must be one of the arguments, not the pressure. Whether it’s about economic threats or political pressure is not acceptable,” said Linas Linkevicius to the media in Vilnius.
Lithuania, which currently provides the EU presidency, will host the Eastern Partnership summit in November. EU hopes to sign an unprecedented agreement of association and free trade with Ukraine at the summit and to initiate agreements with Georgia and Moldova.
Russia recently warned Ukraine and Moldova about retaliatory measures in case of signing an agreement to join the EU. Launched in 2009, the Eastern Partnership strives to bring former Soviet states closer to EU, which Moscow considers to be a breach of its sphere of influence.
Russia has created its own customs union in 2010 which include Belarus and Kazakhstan. Last week, Armenia announced that it will join the Customs Union and so blocking their chances of signing a free trade treaty with the EU. Linkevicius met Saturday with Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss the situation, said her spokeswoman.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Saturday that there is a “significant pressure” on Russia’s neighbours, but warned that they should show more progress to sign Europe Agreements. “What we want in the relations with our Eastern partners is that they can be free to make their own choices in terms of economic and political relations,” she told the journalists.