Lithuania see Eastern Partnership as indispensable instrument to develop relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia-FM

Lithuania is a strong proponent for deeper involvement of the EU in the South Caucasus region, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said.

"We see Eastern Partnership as indispensable instrument to develop relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Lithuania fully supports closer South Caucasus rapprochement with EU, including negotiations on Association and Visa Facilitation agreements," Azubalis said in an interview with

He said increased cooperation, people to people contacts and mobility contributes greatly towards openness and positive transformation of these societies.

"As a holder of EU Presidency in the second half of 2013, Lithuania will support political association and further economic integration between the European Union and interested partner countries, including through closer economic ties and increased mobility," the minister said.

Azubalis said the persistence of protracted conflicts remains one of the greatest threats to security and co-operation within the OSCE area.

"As regards Nagorno-Karabakh, we have worked closely with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and have made our contribution to prevent the volatile situation in and around Nagorno-Karabakh from getting worse," the minister said.

He noted that a joint statement has been agreed by the Heads of Delegation of the Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries and the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the margins of the Vilnius Ministerial Council on 6 December, where heads of delegations agreed on the need to continue the negotiating process in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group and to improve the climate for making progress towards a peaceful settlement.

"The EU has confirmed recently its commitment to remain engaged and involved in the stabilization and conflict resolution efforts in Georgia and in the region. I am confident that strengthened relations between the EU and the three countries in the South Caucasus will also open new avenues for the resolution of the protracted conflicts," Azubalis added.

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