Remarks by President Donald Tusk ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga
European Council President Spokesperson
I have come to Riga with three simple and very clear messages.
First, the European Union stays the course. Despite the intimidation, aggression and even the war of the last year, the European Union is as committed to our Eastern partners as ever. The record presence of 25 out of 28 EU leaders proves this point. Today I am absolutely sure that the Eastern Partnership is our shared priority - across Europe, not only for the eastern and central parts of our continent as it was five years ago.
Second, the European Union wants to advance its relations with all of our partners of the Eastern Partnership. This means tailoring our cooperation, in line with their needs, readiness and of course their sovereign choices. We want to help them to help themselves to transform their societies to the benefit of their citizens, which also means that they become more resilient towards outside pressure.
Third, the European Union is a trusted partner for the long haul. I know very well that we are all impatient for change, but we need to exercise our strategic patience. The Riga Summit is not about announcing giant steps forward. No: our partnership will go forward step-by-step, just like the European Union was built and in this context step-by-step means real progress in trade, energy, mobility and reforms which is also in the best interest of our partners and Europe as a whole.
As a very last comment let me reply to those who claim that the Eastern Partnership is directed against Russia. It is not. The Eastern Partnership is not a beauty contest between Russia and the European Union. But, let me be frank, beauty does count. If Russia was a bit softer, more charming, more attractive, perhaps it wouldn't have to compensate its shortcomings by its destructive and aggressive bullying tactics against its neighbours. Thank you.