The foreign ministers of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine gathered in Brussels on Thursday (June 24). This is the first joint visit to the European Union since the three countries formally confirmed the form of the “three nations” in May last year. This exclusive opinion of David Zalkaliani, Aureliu Ciocoim and Dmytro Kuleba highlights their country’s higher EU ambitions.
David Zalkaliani, Aureliu Ciocoi and Dmytro Kuleba are the foreign ministers of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine respectively.
Seven years ago, on June 27, 2014, our countries — Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine — took a historic and decisive step towards their European future when they signed an alliance agreement with the European Union.
They include deep and comprehensive free trade areas and have become the most ambitious agreement the EU has reached with its neighbors. These agreements consolidate our process of freedom, democratic development and building a prosperous country.
They basically improved the relationship between the three Eastern partners and the European Union and placed them firmly on the political and economic map of Europe, recognizing our country’s European aspirations and the common history and values we share with other European countries.
The European Union has become the first trading partner, major investor and destination for millions of our citizens who travel visa-free.
These agreements provide a framework for strengthening the political union and economic integration between the EU and relevant partners, and gradually guide them to integrate into the EU’s internal market.
These agreements have played an effective and comprehensive guiding role in the dynamic reform process of the three related partners. For the EU, these have also become powerful tools to accompany and assist us to embark on this historic and challenging transformation path.
At the time of signing, the then President of the European Council Hermann Van Rompuy pointed out that these are not just any other agreements, but milestones in our relationship and the entire European history.
Since then, the relevant partners have been implementing these agreements gradually and steadily. We have made tangible progress in public administration reform, trade liberalization, transportation and energy transition, development of civil relations through visa liberalization, promotion of the environmental agenda, and strengthening of security.
Strengthening our democracy and the rule of law, fighting corruption and improving the judicial system have been and will continue to be important priorities. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, but our commitment is firm.
While focusing on the reform agenda, our countries still face security challenges, especially unresolved conflicts.
Russia’s attempts to annex and illegally occupy the territories of Georgia and Ukraine, as well as the unresolved conflicts along the Transnistria of the Republic of Moldova, seriously threaten our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
These violations of international law have severely damaged European and regional security and undermined the rule-based international order. We look forward to working with the European Union to promote peace and security in the region.
As three independent countries, we are united in support of our European choice and desire to elevate our relationship with the EU to a new level. Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have already cooperated and coordinated on our road to European integration, including gaining important experience in cooperation and coordination within the Eastern Partnership (EaP) model.
The establishment of Trio Association reflects our desire to become a member of the European Union, affirms our commitment to further promote the implementation of the association agreement with the European Union, and explores new driving forces for the development of the EaP strategy in terms of the ambition and progress of our partners.
In addition to achieving the overall goal of joining the European Union, the Trio Association will also work to expand the dialogue agenda between the European Commission and its partners to new subject areas, such as transportation, energy, digital transformation, green economy, education, justice and internal affairs , Strategic communication, medical care, culture, etc.
We will go beyond the DCFTA framework and seek more tools to deepen our economic integration and strengthen strong, secure and reliable interconnection with the European Union.
Another important content of the three-nation joint activity is to strengthen security and defense cooperation with the EU, including responding to mixed threats, strengthening cyber resilience, and cooperation platforms with relevant EU institutions and service development.
We will continue to participate in CSDP missions and operations, proving our position as a reliable and valuable partner in the EU’s permanent structural cooperation (PESCO) project.
On June 24th, we visited Brussels for the first time as a trio. We intend to make this cooperation as pragmatic as possible, result-oriented, forward-looking and open, in order to meet new benchmarks. Our common message is:
The path of change may be full of thorns, but it matches our commitment and determination. The EU can have a real impact on our region. We are ready to actively engage with the EU at the political, expert and civil society levels to promote our country’s European perspective. Let us seize this opportunity together.
The effective implementation of our association agreement is a top priority. At the same time, let us work together to see how our joint dialogue with the EU can bring added value, accelerate integration and develop more opportunities.
The Eastern partnership requires political impetus and a new vision of cooperation. We will work together to make the EaP framework closer to the needs and wishes of participants. While maintaining the inclusiveness of the partnership, we should not limit the potential for differentiation.
The joint trio reflects the firm determination and sovereign choice of our countries to take the road of European integration. We are at a new juncture in our journey, and we hope that our friends and partners will stand with us on our road to European integration.