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Latvian MFA and Norwegian Foreign Minister discuss security situation in the region

BC, Riga, 19.03.2015.Print version
On 18 March 2015, the Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkevics, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, Børge Brende, and the Minister for the European Economic Area (EEA) and European Union (EU) Affairs, Vidar Helgesen, to discuss the security situation in the region and the Eastern Partnership issues, reported BC the Latvian MFA.

Photo: flickr.com

Edgars Rinkevics said that Russia's aggression in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea poses a threat to security and peace in Europe. And increasing Russian military activity in the immediate vicinity of the EU and NATO borders undermines the security climate in the region and Latvia highly appreciates NATO's collective security measures in our region.

 

Both Ministers concurred that the importance of cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries in security sector has increased during the crisis in Ukraine.

 

Latvia and Norway have a common border with Russia and this is also NATO's external border. Regrettably, Russia's actions have become more aggressive as reflected by growing military activity near the borders of both Latvia and Norway. And in this new geopolitical situation, we appreciate Norway’s contribution to the strengthening of NATO collective security, said the Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

 

The Foreign Ministers emphasised that NATO will protect any Ally in the case of military aggression, this being a fundamental principle in effect.

 

The Foreign Minister expressed satisfaction with the close military cooperation between Latvia and Norway in the framework of NORDEFCO, which will continue as an essential regional security instrument.

 

When discussing the crisis in Ukraine, Edgars Rinkevics emphasised that the key task is to maintain EU unity and consistency in its relations with Russia. "It is essential that international financial support be continued to facilitate Ukraine's economic recovery and reform implementation. The EU expects the Ukrainian Government to invest maximum effort into reforms required for the stabilisation and growth of Ukraine. The reforms should be carried out without delay," Edgars Rinkevics said.

 

The Foreign Ministers expressed the conviction that it was necessary to increase the number of OSCE observers and ensure unimpeded OSCE work in the east of Ukraine.

 

The Latvian Foreign Minister also asserted that the Riga Summit should send a clear signal that the Eastern Partnership is an EU strategic priority and continues to evolve. "The European Union should make an effort to deliver tangible results. It is essential that in advance of the Riga Summit, the majority of EU Member States complete the ratification of Association Agreements. At the same time, a strong declaration by the Riga Summit should be agreed, and that declaration should offer a clear perspective on the further development of the Eastern Partnership and reinforce the European Neighbourhood Policy," Edgars Rinkevics said.

 

The Latvian Foreign Minister invited the Foreign Minister of Norway, Børge Brende, to visit Latvia.

 

At the meeting with the Minister for the EEA and EU Affairs, Vidar Helgesen, Edgars Rinkevics outlined the current events of the Latvian Presidency, the agenda for the European Council of 19–20 March, the formation of the Energy Union, and the Eastern Partnership.

 

Edgars Rinkevics accentuated that the Latvian Presidency has set EU's internal security as a special priority. "In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Europe, the fight against terrorism places high on our presidency agenda. Practical action is currently of utmost importance. The Schengen Area framework should be used more effectively and financing of terrorism countered. We must not also forget about the developments in the countries neighbouring the EU to the south, for instance, Libya, Syria and Egypt; therefore, strategic cooperation with third countries in the area of security and counter-terrorism is essential, not excluding other regions such as Afghanistan and Central Asia. Efforts of fighting against ISIL must continue and be intensified," the Foreign Minister emphasised.

 

The Minister welcomed the Energy Union Strategy published by the European Commission. The ministers' discussions on the strategy at various configurations of the EU Council will contribute significantly to the European Council in March, which will provide guidelines for further work.

 

Edgars Rinkevics emphasised that the Eastern Partnership should pursue the development of a unified platform whilst facilitating an individualised approach to the EU's relations with partner countries. For instance, bilateral relations should be consolidated and the implementation of the EU-Ukraine, EU-Moldova and EU-Georgia Association Agreements facilitated. Besides, agreement should be achieved on a new legal framework for cooperation with Armenia and Azerbaijan and the advancement of the EU-Belarus relations. Progress should be made in the area of visa facilitation with all Eastern Partnership countries.






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