Baltic and German foreign ministers hope for compromise on EU-Russian Partnership and Co-operation Agreement

Ministsry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
Press Release
May 21, 2008

On 20 May 2008, the regular political consultations of Baltic and German ministers of foreign affairs to discuss current foreign policy developments were held in Riga at the invitation of Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins. Participating in the consultations were Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas, and German Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

One of the topics of the meeting was the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the national parliaments and its implementation. Minister Riekstins hoped that the ratification process in the rest of the EU member states would be successful. The ministers discussed the developments in the Western Balkans in relation to the recent parliamentary elections in Serbia and the situation in Kosovo.

The discussions included regional co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region. German Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier considered the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) to be a successful format of co-operation in which its member states can discuss regionally important issues. Mr Steinmeier assessed Latvia’s work during its CBSS presidency positively and noted that the initial progress regarding further development of the organisation’s reforms is being made with success. The ministers discussed matters related to the forthcoming CBSS Summit in Riga on 3-4 June.

At the political consultations, Mr Riekstins informed his colleagues about Latvia’s position on the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The Minister emphasized that, with global political and economic integration processes developing, the significance of regional co-operation increases. Estonian Foreign Minister Paet indicated that the EU Strategy would be an instrument for dealing with issues important for the Baltic Sea Region, mentioning examples such as economic co-operation, environmental protection and the development of a new infrastructure.

The talks also touched upon the EU-Russia new Partnership and Co-operation Agreement. Mr Riekstins expressed the opinion that the EU should continue consultations with Russia about the negotiations mandate. The Latvian Foreign Minister said that the dialogue has now developed to a point where a compromise might be found. The Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vaitiekunas thanked in this regard the Baltic and German foreign ministers for their understanding and expressed the hope that a solution would be found in the near future regarding the EU-Russia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement.

Security policy issues were also debated among the ministers. Minister Riekstins hoped that an agreement would be reached at the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in December on offering a NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine.

The ministers agreed to hold the next political consultations of this format in Lithuania.

This year’s consultations were the tenth to be held. The first such meeting took place on 28 August 1996 in Leipzig, at the initiative of the then German Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Klaus Kinkel.