Russia must immediately withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine - foreign ministers of Latvia and Australia

  • 2022-08-09
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Russia must immediately withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a joint statement following a meeting in Canberra. 

As LETA was told at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both sides expressed firm support for international efforts to  hold Russia accountable for its actions.

The foreign ministers strongly condemned Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine and its people that has serious implications for international security and stability. They reaffirmed their steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, denounced the grave violations by Russia of international law, including the United Nations Charter. Both ministers noted the significant challenges associated with rebuilding Ukraine, which will require sustained international cooperation.

The ministers welcomed the outcomes from the NATO Leaders’ Summit in Madrid, noting the inclusion of the Indo-Pacific in NATO’s Strategic Concept and, efforts to strengthen security in the Baltic region. They recognized the strong capabilities that Sweden and Finland would bring as members. 

The ministers shared views on cyber cooperation and opportunities with NATO to address ongoing threats and new challenges, including in the Indo-Pacific. Rinkevics welcomed Australia's commitment to deepen joint efforts to counter disinformation and foreign interference, including its decision to become a contributing partner to NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga.

The ministers underscored the importance of Europe-Asia cooperation and welcomed the EU’s longstanding engagement in regional architecture, including the ASEAN Regional Forum and its upcoming observership of the 2022 East Asia Summit. The ministers acknowledged the need to work together on multilateral issues including disarmament, non-proliferation, the fight against disinformation, human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

The politicians also reiterated commitment to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, including the full, equal, and meaningful participation and leadership of women in all stages of peace processes. The ministers discussed the urgent challenge of addressing climate change, including the need to accelerate clean energy transition, and to maintain and enhance energy security.

Rinkevics and Wong welcomed the growth in Australia and Latvia’s trade ties in the past five years. They agreed trade would be boosted through the swift conclusion of an ambitious Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the EU, which should include avenues for cooperation on energy and climate. Both sides committed to progress negotiations on an Air Services Agreement, and a Work and Holiday Visa Arrangement to foster economic and people-to-people links.

The opening of Latvia's first ever embassy in Canberra marked a historic moment in the two countries' bilateral relations and the deepening of engagement, the foreign minister said, noting that Australia’s and Latvia’s shared values were deeply rooted in strong people to people links, including post-Second World War migration. They recognized the significant contributions made by Australians of Latvian heritage to contemporary Australia, including in culture, education, and business.

The ministers firmly committed to upholding human rights, the rule of law and the rules-based international order. Latvia and Australia agreed to work together to address challenges to our shared values and interests in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific. Rinkevics expressed Latvia’s support for a robust implementation of the European Union’s Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and readiness to partner with Australia in this regard. Minister Wong welcomed Latvia’s and the EU’s commitment to contribute to stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development in the region.

Australia and Latvia would continue to work closely on issues of mutual interest to tackle the complexity of global challenges, the ministers agreed.