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Leaders of EU, Eastern Partnership states arrive for Riga Summit

Xinhua, May 22, 2015 Adjust font size:

Leaders of the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries gathered in Riga on Thursday for the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit.

The two-day summit, hosted by Latvia that is the current EU presidency, intended to bring the EU's relations with its Eastern neighbors to a new level. It kicked off with a working dinner given by Latvian President Andris Berzins to the heads of state or government at the Blackheads's House in Riga Old City.

Speaking to the press ahead of the summit, Berzins described the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative as a policy for the future, stressing it was not just a passing activity of Latvia's six-month presidency of the Council of the EU.

"We also consider it to be a future policy," Berzins said.

Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, for her part, noted a new level of relations between the bloc and the Eastern Partnership states in Riga.

The Latvian premier also said that significant progress had been achieved in cooperation between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries since the previous summit in Vilnius in 2013.

Straujuma praised the success of the visa-free regime that has already been introduced with Moldova.

"Georgia and Ukraine are actively working to meet the requirements," the Latvian prime minister said, indicating that the visa regime might be lifted for these countries as well if the European Commission provides a positive assessment at the end of this year.

The Latvian prime minister said since the launch of the Eastern Partnership initiative in 2009 new challenges had emerged in the region and there was more clarity about each partner state's interests and level of ambitions in cooperation with the EU.

It is therefore necessary to adjust the program to each partner state's needs and situation, Straujuma said.

The Eastern Partnership Summit takes place in Riga on May 21-22.

Cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine has been declared one of the priorities of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

As it organizes the summit, Latvia intends to actively promote the Eastern Partnership policy at the EU level, facilitating the Eastern Partnership countries' integration with the EU, as well as to promote its own national interests by developing bilateral cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries. Enditem