A European Union summit with the bloc’s eastern neighbours will confirm support for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in their bid to move closer to the bloc but make no promise of future EU membership, according to a draft final statement.
In part overshadowed by the Belarus crisis, the EU summit on Dec. 15 will bring together Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, with Minsk likely to be represented with a Belarusian flag and an empty chair, diplomats said.
Former Soviet republics Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine want to one day join the EU and cement their move away from Russia’s orbit. In July, the trio signed a joint declaration to work together to integrate into the wealthy bloc.
Excerpts of a draft under discussion for next week’s summit, seen by media, show the EU will “acknowledge the European aspirations and the European choice of the partners concerned”.
That is the same language used in the last final “Eastern Partnership” summit statement in 2017, despite determination in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to accelerate market economy reforms and join the bloc. Georgia and Ukraine also aim to one day join the U.S.-led NATO military alliance, although territorial conflicts with Russia make that complicated.
With political hostility to immigration growing, the bloc is reluctant to enlarge despite the 1990s-era success of a programme that transformed former communist countries such as the Baltic states into EU members.