Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in a statement today that the agreements were a step towards democracy, rule of law and transparency in the three states, a journey his country can identify with. Estonia signed the agreement in 1995 and became a member of the EU in 2004.
The aim of the agreement is the eventual abolition of customs duties between the EU and the three countries, as well as a close political partnership. The association and free trade agreement is also the basis for reforms in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Talks over the agreement with Georgia and Moldova began in 2010 and the association agreements were initialled in November at the Vilnius summit.
“The Association and Free Trade Agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will shape the successful future of these states,” Ilves said from his country residence Ämari, where he was hosting foreign ambassadors residing in Estonia.
Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser, on a visit to Georgia, congratulated the country on signing the agreements, the ministry said in a statement.
“Georgia is in a good position to become a member of both the EU as well as NATO,” Mikser said, adding that Georgia has proved itself as a democratic nation.
“These agreements are first and foremost good for the people of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and the development of these countries, offering the best chance of democratic development and modernizing their economies, and accordingly bringing about a general increase in welfare,” Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in a statement.
The pact was one of the catalysts of the Ukrainian crisis and Russia has criticized the move, warning it will split up the country. According to Russian news agencies, Dmitri Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, has warned Russia will enact “defensive measures” that may follow the agreement.