"If the EU grants membership prospects to the Eastern Partnership states, it will give them a strong incentive for reform," Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitautas Leskevicius said, commenting on the European Commission's annual report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy.
In particular, he said that by offering the Eastern Partnership countries membership prospects the EU would encourage them "to conduct far-reaching reforms more actively". "We can say from our own experience that there is no stronger incentive to reform than knowing that this is being done to prepare for accession to the EU. We believe that EU membership prospects will help our Eastern partners to achieve significant results that will be beneficial both to our partners and to us," Leskevicius said. "The reform process is not easy, and requires the best political efforts and financial resources, but the EU is firmly committed to further help its closest neighbors to carry out the necessary reforms," he said. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry also said in a statement that the goal of speeding up political association and deepening the economic integration of Eastern Partnership countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - with the EU would be among the priorities of Lithuania's presidency of the EU Council, which begins on the 1st of July. Kyiv expects the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement to be signed during the third Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November.