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EU foreign ministers to discuss Syria and Eastern Partnership outlook in Vilnius

September 06, 2013, 8:16 UTC+3
Catherine Ashton, EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will chair the ministerial meeting
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VILNIUS, September 6 (Itar-Tass) - EU Foreign ministers start their informal two-day meeting in the Lithuanian capital on Friday to discuss prospects for the promotion of the European Union (EU) Eastern Partnership program and best practice with regard to the southern neighbors.

The annual forum takes place under Lithuania's presidency in the EU Council. Catherine Ashton, EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will chair the ministerial meeting. US Secretary of State John Kerry is among the participants of the meeting.

The meeting’s agenda is shaped in advance and the forum held in September is considered a platform for a free exchange of views on prospects for international politics. Despite this, experts point out, this time the situation around Syria would surely introduce adjustments to the agenda. It is not fortuitous that Kerry urgently arrives here to attend the meeting. It is believed that the US and France will seek to secure adoption of a clear-cut political statement in support of a military operation in Syria, although, as a rule, no programmatic documents are adopted as a result of informal meetings.

The planned agenda also gives rise to certain questions. A breakthrough in the stalled Eastern Partnership program was originally mentioned as one of the priorities of Lithuania's six-month presidency at the EU Council. The Ukraine-EU treaty on association and free trade was supposed to be signed, and similar documents with Moldova, Georgia, and possibly Armenia were to be initialed at an EU summit in Vilnius in November.

Armenia, quite unexpectedly to the EU, stated a desire to participate in the Customs Union, which is incompatible, as is believed in Brussels, with the free trade agreement. Besides, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili of Georgia in one of his speeches did not rule out the possibility of Georgia's joining a Eurasian Economic Union in the future.

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