Today, the European Union (EU) announced an additional €350 million in aid to the "Eastern Partnership," a program to offer six former Soviet states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) incentives to promote stronger economic ties and democratic reforms. The additional aid comes on top of the €250 million "already earmarked for the region" for 2010-2013 that wil be refocused "[t]o initiatives relevant for the implementation of the Eastern Partnership," in light of the fact that these countries "face major challenges to democracy and the rule of law" as a result of the effects of the global recession. At a summit in Prague to launch the program, EU President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU had a “vital interest” in stronger relations.