Welcoming remarks by President Donald Tusk at the celebratory dinner marking the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership

Ten years ago, many of us here contributed to establishing the Eastern Partnership, although some of us in different capacities than today. It was based on the recognition that your countries have their own distinct and unique connections to the European Union, and that this should be given political expression.

Both the idea and the name, Eastern Partnership, were conceived in the Polish  ministry of foreign affairs  under Radek Sikorski, in close collaboration with our Swedish friends, Carl Bildt in particular.

Dear Mr Speaker, dear Minister, dear Radek. Here, in the presence of all the leaders of the Eastern Partnership and European institutions, I would like to sincerely thank you and congratulate you on this excellent idea. Without your creativity and courage, the Eastern Partnership would not be possible. (these sentences were delivered in Polish) It was my private message to the authors of this idea of Eastern Partnership, especially Radek Sikorski.

The Eastern Partnership has had its successes, its challenges, and also moments of high drama, as in November 2013, during the summit in Vilnius, where President Yanukovych rejected Ukraine’s Association Agreement, which he later bitterly regretted.Today, after ten years, we can reflect on our achievements. Three of the six Eastern Partnership countries have Association Agreements that include deep and comprehensive trade areas. They also have visa-free arrangements with the EU. Billions of euros have been spent on border management, connectivity, environment and energy efficiency, support for business, legal advice, and education. Young people from Partnership countries participate in Erasmus. Much more still needs to be done, but there is no doubt that our partner countries have come closer to the EU, more than our other neighbours.

This means that ten years on, there is more Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine  in the EU, and – I believe – there is more EU in all of your countries than ever before. We are not only neighbours – we are members of the same European family.

 

That’s why I’d like to thank and congratulate all those who have worked so tirelessly to develop the Eastern Partnership. As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we are making a strong commitment to deepening our ties and cooperation. What kind of Eastern Partnership we will celebrate ten years from now depends on what we do, starting today. And I have trust in our common determination and imagination. So much has changed since we started our work bur not our friendship and determination. Thank you for everything you have done so far.

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