‘Uphill, but an essential and a worthy battle’: Michel welcomes the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Assembly
Сivil society have played and is playing a crucial role in making progress in the critical areas of the Eastern Partnership, including political cooperation, economic recovery, and democratic reforms, said President Charles Michel addressing the participants of the Civil Society Assembly.
The 13th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF), ‘Road to recovery: fostering reform and resilience for a stronger Eastern Partnership’ is taking place from 30 November to 2 December bringing together online more than 300 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and decision-makers from the Eastern Partner countries and the EU.
We have advanced our partnership in spite of challenges ranging from economic crises to armed conflicts and the COVID pandemic,” said Charles Michel. “You must continue to step forward and make your voices heard.”
The President added that the EU will insist in tackling challenges facing the Eastern Partnership: “Strengthening democracy, fighting corruption, defending the rule of law, guaranteeing a free media, and countering disinformation – this is an uphill battle, but an essential and a worthy battle”.
The Assembly will prepare its recommendations in the run-up of the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit (15-16 December 2021).
Irakli Garibashvili’s meeting with Charles Michel in Brussels
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, as part of his ongoing working visit to Brussels, is holding a series of high-level meetings with the leaders of various European institutions.
This two-day visit includes today's meeting with Charles Michel, President of the European Council. Georgia's EU membership bid and granting the status of a candidate to the country were the key issues discussed.
During the meeting, the parties held extensive discussions on the process of reviewing Georgia's application, including the European Commission's questionnaire, with both of its parts completed by Georgia ahead of schedule, also the country's progress toward implementing the Association Agreement and carrying out democratic reforms. The Prime Minister underlined Georgia's historical choice to return to the European family, emphasizing in this context the importance of the European Commission's opinion and the European Council's decision on granting Georgia the status of a candidate country.
The parties also discussed the region's security situation in light of Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, including the state of affairs in Georgia's occupied territories. The Prime Minister reaffirmed the solidarity and unwavering support of the Georgian Government and people for Ukraine. According to Garibashvili, ending the war in Ukraine is crucially important to all, and the consequences of this war will define the future of both the whole world and Georgia.
Irakli Garibashvili thanked Charles Michel for his personal effort toward supporting Georgia's path to European integration.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Irakli Garibashvili: I am departing for Brussels today, to hold high-level meetings; naturally, we will have discussions around our recently submitted questionnaire
I am departing for Brussels today, to hold high-level meetings; naturally, we will have discussions around our recently submitted questionnaire, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated during today's Cabinet meeting.
According to the Prime Minister, he is scheduled to meet with the NATO Secretary General, President Charles Michel of the European Council, the President of the European Parliament, and other senior officials.
"As you know, we completed the questionnaire ahead of schedule. Once again, I am thankful to all public servants engaged, the Ministers and the Cabinet as a whole, every institution, the Parliament, for making sure that the questionnaire is completed and submitted to the EU on time. I am about to have top-level meetings in Brussels on this and other issues. I will also meet with the NATO Secretary General, President Charles Michel of the European Council, the President of the European Parliament, and other senior officials. We will inform the public on the outcomes in due course," Irakli Garibashvili said.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Armenia-Azerbaijan: leaders meet President Michel and agree to work towards peace treaty
European Council President Charles Michel yesterday hosted the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, for a continuation of their discussions on the situation in the South Caucasus region and the development of EU relations with both countries.
President Michel reiterated the EU’s commitment to deepen its cooperation with Armenia and Azerbaijan to work closely in overcoming tensions and promote a South Caucasus that is secure, stable, peaceful and prosperous for the benefit of all people living in the region.
The leaders took stock of developments since their last meeting in Brussels in December 2021 and their videoconference, together with President Macron, in February 2022. They reviewed progress on the implementation of undertaken commitments and discussed recent tensions.
President Michel emphasised the importance of humanitarian gestures by both sides to promote confidence and peaceful coexistence. He stressed the need for the full and speedy resolution of all outstanding humanitarian issues, including the release of remaining detainees and comprehensively addressing the issue of missing persons, and stated that the EU is ready to support this endeavour. The EU will likewise continue to support confidence building measures between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as humanitarian de-mining efforts, including by continuing to provide expert advice and stepping up financial assistance, and assistance to conflict-affected populations, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
President Michel noted both President Aliyev’s and Prime Minister Pashinyan’s stated desire to move rapidly towards a peace agreement between their countries. To this end, it was agreed to instruct Ministers of Foreign Affairs to work on the preparation of a future peace treaty, which would address all necessary issues.
The delimitation and demarcation of their bilateral border will be essential; to this end, it was also agreed to convene a Joint Border Commission by the end of April, with a mandate to:
- delimit the bilateral border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and
- ensure a stable security situation along, and in the vicinity of, the borderline.
The leaders also discussed the restoration of communications/connectivity infrastructure between Armenia and Azerbaijan in particular and in the South Caucasus more broadly. President Michel welcomed the steps towards the restoration of railway lines, while encouraging Armenia and Azerbaijan to also find effective solutions for the restoration of road links. The EU is ready to support the development of connectivity links, including in line with its Economic and Investment Plan and by utilising the proposed economic advisory forum to identify common projects.
The leaders agreed to follow-up on outcomes of their meeting and to stay engaged.
EU4Youth cancels grant call to adapt to impact of war in Ukraine
In response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the EU4Youth programme has announced that it has decided to terminate its call for proposals “EU4Youth phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Youth Employment and Societal Change through Social Entrepreneurship”, which was published on 26 January 2022 and extended on 3 March.
“Following the military aggression initiated by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the war in the country and the flood of refugees have comprehensively changed the demographic situation, social environment and labour market in Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries,” the programme said, adding that the need to address the immediate war-related needs and to build capacities for crisis response, including re-qualification, integration to labour markets, and development of entrepreneurship skills, had significantly impacted the context of EU4Youth Phase III.
In order to address these challenges, the priorities of the grant, and the requirements for applicants and procedures will be revised accordingly.
Depending on the situation, further information about the status of the call for proposals “EU4Youth phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Youth Employment and Societal Change through Social Entrepreneurship” is planned to be announced until the end of April.
All those interested in the programme and potential grant applicants should subscribe to the EU4Youth newsletter for updates.
Statement of the heads of state or government, meeting in Versailles, on the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, 10 March 2022
During the first day of the informal meeting, EU leaders adopted a statement on the Russian aggression against Ukraine. They discussed its consequences and the EU response.
1. Two weeks ago Russia brought war back to Europe. Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine grossly violates international law and the principles of the UN Charter and undermines European and global security and stability. It is inflicting unspeakable suffering on the Ukrainian population. Russia, and its accomplice Belarus, bear full responsibility for this war of aggression and those responsible will be held to account for their crimes, including for indiscriminately targeting civilians and civilian objects. In this respect we welcome the decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation. We call for the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to be ensured immediately with the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency. We demand that Russia ceases its military action and withdraws all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine immediately and unconditionally, and fully respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognised borders.
2. We commend the people of Ukraine for their courage in defending their country and our shared values of freedom and democracy. We will not leave them alone. The EU and its Member States will continue to provide coordinated political, financial, material and humanitarian support. We are committed to provide support for the reconstruction of a democratic Ukraine once the Russian onslaught has ceased. We are determined to increase even further our pressure on Russia and Belarus. We have adopted significant sanctions and remain ready to move quickly with further sanctions.
3. Countless people are fleeing the war in Ukraine. We offer temporary protection to all war refugees from Ukraine. We commend European countries, notably at the borders with Ukraine, for showing immense solidarity in hosting Ukrainian war refugees. The EU and its Member States will continue to show solidarity and provide humanitarian, medical and financial support to all refugees and the countries hosting them. We call for funds to be made available without delay through a swift adoption of the proposal on Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) and through ReactEU. We call on Russia to fully abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law. It must ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the victims and internally displaced persons in Ukraine, and allow safe passage for those civilians who want to leave.
4. The European Council acknowledged the European aspirations and the European choice of Ukraine, as stated in the Association Agreement. On 28 February 2022, exercising the right of Ukraine to choose its own destiny, the President of Ukraine submitted the application of Ukraine to become a member of the European Union. The Council has acted swiftly and invited the Commission to submit its opinion on this application in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaties. Pending this and without delay, we will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path. Ukraine belongs to our European family.
5. The Council has invited the Commission to submit its opinions on the applications of the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.
On the second day, EU leaders will discuss how to strengthen European sovereignty, reduce dependencies and design a new growth and investment model.
The meeting is hosted by the French presidency and is chaired by Charles Michel, President of the European Council.
Statement of the heads of state or government