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Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis: COVID-19 vaccine must be made available to Eastern Partners under the same conditions as to the Western Balkans Partners

Created: 2021.01.06 / Updated: 2021.01.07 11:20

On 6 January, Ministers of 13 member states of the European Union called on the European Commissioners for health and for international cooperation with the EU partners, as well as on the European Commission to set up a support mechanism to allow the Eastern Partnership countries to secure early access to COVID-19 vaccine.

"The EU is not safe until all the EU neighbours are safe, including also our Eastern European Partners. I believe that the current vaccine shortage is temporary and all member states will be gradually given access to a planned quantity of doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Then they will find a way to take care of the EU partners not only in the Western Balkans, but also in the Eastern Partnership and in other countries," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis.

The Lithuania-initiated letter from EU member states to the European Commission was signed by the Ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden.

At the end of 2020, the European Commission adopted a package of €70 million to help fund the access of Western Balkans Partners to COVID-19 vaccines procured by EU member states and to enable a quick start of vaccination campaigns to most vulnerable groups in the region early on. According to the Ministers who have signed the letter, a similar support mechanism could also be set up to help fund the access of the Eastern European Partners to vaccines.

The point of this letter is also to remind the Commission of the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit that is to take place in early 2021. “The Eastern Partnership countries and their people understand and appreciate the benefits of cooperation with the EU. It is our responsibility not only to promote reforms in these countries, but also to lend a helping hand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Together we are strong," said Landsbergis.

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