MINISTSRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF LATVIA
Aprils 24, 2013
On 23 April, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics took part in the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels, at which the ministers discussed the engagement of the international community in Afghanistan before and after 2014 and the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. A discussion on cooperation between NATO and Russia in the matters of security policy took place at the NATO-Russia Council.
At the meeting of NATO member state foreign ministers, Minister Rinkevics pledged Latvia’s support for the NATO presence in Afghanistan after 2014, when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission has been concluded, and the Alliance is planning to provide assistance to the National Security Forces of Afghanistan by involvement in their training. “We support an active dialogue and cooperation between NATO and the Central Asian countries to enable Afghanistan’s long-term growth and economic development,” Minister Rinkevics accentuated.
Latvian Foreign Minister also emphasised the importance of enhancing the Alliance’s defence capacity. “It is important for the allies to ensure regular military exercises to preserve the positive experience of cooperation gained in Afghanistan. In this context we attach significant importance to the Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013 of the NATO Response Force to be held in the Baltic region, including the territory of Latvia,” Foreign Minister indicated.
Addressing the NATO-Russia Council session, Minister Rinkevics made note of the positive cooperation between NATO and Russia in Afghanistan, which strengthens the ability of Afghanistan and the region’s countries to deal with common challenges, for instance, in the fight against drugs and terrorism. The Minister also emphasised that the positive experience gained when developing the Northern Distribution Network to and from Afghanistan should be used in facilitating future economic cooperation in a wider region.
Foreign Minister Rinkevics invited the member countries of the NATO-Russia Council to take part in the seminar, Arteries connecting the Heart of Asia to the Global World, to be held in Riga on 11-12 June. The Minister also expressed support for efforts towards transparency in NATO-Russia cooperation and called for promoting mutual trust and information exchange about the Russia-Belarus military exercise, Zapad-2013, scheduled for this year, and NATO’s Exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013.