RIGA - Cooperation between Ireland and Latvia is currently close and very important for Dublin, as the two countries share common interests, and the creation of the European Union (EU) can be considered the culmination of the sovereignty of small countries, said the Irish Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne in an interview with LETA.
He thanked Latvia for its support during the Brexit process and now Ireland is trying to pay more attention to issues that are topical for Latvia.
"I would especially like to thank the Latvian government and people for their solidarity in the Brexit process. It was very important to us. Ireland could count on Latvia as a reliable partner, and we were happy to work on issues that were important to our countries, thus strengthening and deepening relations between Ireland and Latvia, and this is very important for us," the Minister emphasized.
Although the issues on the Irish agenda are not the same as those on Latvia, it is very important that "we understand each other's challenges," said Byrne.
"For example, Latvia understood our position on Brexit issues, while we try to maintain a very strong position against Belarus not only on human rights and humanitarian issues, but also on security threats to neighboring countries. We try to maintain relations with Russia from the EU's point of view. However, even though Russia's relations with the EU might not be very high on the Irish information space agenda, after feeling so much solidarity with us during the Brexit process, we now have a duty to focus more on issues that impact Latvia, and we do so within the UN Security Council, of which Ireland is a member, and at the EU negotiating table," said the Irish minister.
He expressed the conviction that small countries must stick together "because we have our small interests". "The creation of the EU is, in my opinion, the culmination of the sovereignty of small countries. As in your case, when you have Foreign Minister Edgars [Rinkevics], who is the second longest-serving foreign minister in the European Council of Ministers - this gives Latvia authority. And with such personalities, our rights and the way we use our voices, we gain an authority that is used throughout Europe. I think it makes our voices much stronger," said Byrne.
The Minister also joked that when meeting with such an experienced person as Rinkevics, it is important for him, with only a year of experience as a Minister, to "turn on my listening mode".
Byrne was on a visit to Latvia last week, during which he met with Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and Foreign Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica.