Courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia

November 20, 2015

On 20 November, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkevics, took part in the annual Baltic Council in Vilnius. In his remarks to the members of the Baltic Council, Edgars Rinkevics expressed the conviction that the European Union (EU) must fight for its values and stand up for them. Not enough effort has been made to ensure that the EU external border is protected. Counter measures against organised crime engaged in human trafficking, facilitation of return and readmission, and control of arriving asylum seekers should be implemented without delay. Greater attention should also be paid to addressing the root causes of terrorism and migration.

The European politicians often engage in irrational rhetoric instead of working to put all the decisions they are making into practice. The Baltic States have meanwhile exhibited solidarity, taken balanced positions, and been a voice of reason and common sense.  The Baltic States should be counted amongst those nations that unite the European Union through both their words and deeds. In this light, it is a pleasure to see the Baltic States maintaining common and consistent positions within NATO on issues such as strengthening the long-term presence of the Allies in the region, implementation of the NATO Readiness Action Plan and our pledge to stick to the Alliance’s guidelines and spend 2% of GDP on defence, Foreign Minister Rinkevics observed.

Referring to the developments in Ukraine, the Minister said that the Baltic States are amongst the most active and staunch supporters of Ukraine, providing all the support they possibly can, and so they will continue to be. There is only one solution to the conflict – full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Unless that is done, there is no reason to take steps to alleviate the international pressure being placed on Russia. The Baltic States must also continue reminding the world about the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. The fight against terrorists and resolving the Syrian conflict should not take place at the expense of Ukraine.

Edgars Rinkevics noted that, when taking over the presidency of the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council of Ministers from Lithuania on 1 January 2016, Latvia will carry forward the projects already launched and has identified the following priorities: strengthening security in the region; promoting strategic communications; and development of the transport and energy infrastructure.

Background information:

On 1 January 2016, Latvia succeeds Lithuania as the country holding the Presidency of the Baltic Assembly and the Baltic Council of Ministers, and Riga will host the next meeting of the Baltic Council.

The Baltic Council is an annual meeting of the members of the Baltic State parliaments (“Baltic Assembly”) and the Foreign Ministers. The Baltic Council is a valuable and effective platform for discussions among the members of the Baltic States’ parliaments and governments.