Washington D.C. – Ranking Member Eliot Engel, the senior Democratic Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, praised the unanimous passage through the House Foreign Affairs Committee of H.Res.402, a resolution he authored supporting the European aspirations of countries from Eastern Europe and the Caucasus which are seeking to deepen their ties with the European Union (EU) through the EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative.
“The unanimous passage of this resolution through the Foreign Affairs Committee should signal that the international community will not stand idly by when Russia attempts to dictate its neighbors’ relationships with Europe. Countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia have the sovereign right to enter into partnerships of their choosing, and closer relations with Europe and the adoption of democratic norms and standards will greatly benefit these states and the wider region – including Russia. Moscow must know that its counterproductive, zero-sum approach is not going to prevent aspirant Eastern Partnership members from exercising their sovereign rights.”
The Eastern Partnership is an economic and political initiative of the European Union and partner nations to facilitate closer ties between the EU and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Eastern Partnership states include Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. Ukraine may sign an Association Agreement with the EU, and Moldova and Georgia may initial their own Agreements, at the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on November 28-29, 2013. These Agreements contain provisions which will increase economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve the rule of law in the region. Over the last several months, Russia has sought to deter Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia from deepening their ties with the EU by impeding imports from Ukraine and Moldova, by installing physical barriers in the occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and by threatening additional measures. At the same time, the EU and the U.S. have made clear that aspirant states must continue their laudable progress in adopting democratic norms and standards in order to continue to integrate with Europe. In particular, the EU and U.S. have urged Ukrainian authorities to enact additional electoral and rule of law reforms, and to find a mutually agreeable solution for the release of imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko,