Janša calls for enlargement plan for Eastern partners

Brussels – During its EU presidency stint, Slovenia has been striving for EU accession of Eastern partners and for the setting of the enlargement timeline, said Prime Minister Janez Janša, who is attending the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels. “In the next ten years both sides should take concrete steps towards the enlargement,” he said.

“The EU has a bold investment plan, which focuses on the area of common interest and assistance to the trio of countries – Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, to make faster progress towards EU membership,” Janša said in a statement for foreign media his office said in a press release.

On the margins of the summit, Janša met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Vovayi Pashinyan and Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Prior to the summit, the PM attended an informal lunch with the leaders of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, hosted by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

Janša and the Ukrainian president signed a joint statement on the European perspective of Ukraine and exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine and the EU’s relation to the Eastern Partnership.

After talks with Tsikhanouskaya, Janša said said they had been shocked to hear of convictions of political prisoners, which he said were a clear sign that dictator Lukashenko was nervous.

He expressed full support for the Belarusian opposition and the confidence that it would be this very opposition that will lead Belarus in the near future. The pair also discussed ways to provide concrete aid to the families of political prisoners.

Janša said in the statement for foreign media that the Eastern partnership was extremely important not only for the political and economic point of view but also the strategic and security aspects, his office said in the press release.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels their counterparts from five Eastern partner countries in the light of tensions due to Russia’s increased military presence on the border with Ukraine and tensions with Minsk.

Belarus’s seat remained empty as the country has frozen its cooperation in the initiative after the EU introduced a series of sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko over violence against the population.