Armenia, Belarus refuse to sign Riga Summit Declaration over Crimea

European Union leaders begin a summit in Riga Thursday with Eastern Partnership countries.

Disagreement over the conflict in Ukraine, and over the EU’s reluctance to hold out membership prospects to the six states in its “Eastern Partnership”, have held up drafting of a joint communique to be issued in Riga on Friday, diplomats said.

“These are not easy negotiations,” one EU diplomat said after talks in Brussels on a draft text that will be reviewed in Latvia by foreign ministers from the EU, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus on Thursday evening.

Armenia and Belarus refused to sign up to any statement that called Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula illegal and EU diplomats said a compromise text would be put to them.

It would note the EU’s condemnation of the Crimean situation but also refer to partner governments’ positions in a U.N. vote in March 2014.