RIGA - The European Union (EU) must support countries most affected by the food crisis, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) said.
As LETA was told at the Foreign Ministry, Rinkevics on Monday attended a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, which featured a discussion on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its global impact, the EU’s cooperation with Egypt, and an overview of latest developments in the Horn of Africa countries.
The Council also exchanged views on the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on global food security, the impact being multidimensional: from an increase in the prices of food, fertilizers and energy to the macroeconomic and political stability of countries.
According to Rinkevics, time has come for the EU to become a truly global player through smartly adjusting its partnership policies with regard to its closer and more distant neighbors so as to address the consequences of Russia’s war. In that context, the EU must support countries most affected by the food security crisis through providing humanitarian assistance or standing up firmly for export restrictions, especially with regard to food products.
"We can speed up our support by working together with our international partners, especially the United Nations and international financial institutions. It is vital to stop the food blockade by Russia in the Black Sea ports. Meanwhile, solutions must be sought of safe corridors for food logistics in line with Ukraine’s interests and security considerations," Rinkevics said.
The Latvian minister also called for a special focus on improving resilience among the EU’s closest partners, for instance, the Eastern Partnership countries. That calls for EU support to deal with Russia’s impact, including disinformation. Consequently, the EU must strengthen its support to independent mass media and media literacy in its neighborhood.
The EU’s Eastern Partnership policy must further reinforce partnership links with Europe, not Russia, the Minister said. This is the right moment to improve our cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries on security issues, including the enhancement of defense capabilities, for instance, in Moldova. Likewise, the EU should increase its cooperation with the Central Asian countries, Rinkevics said.
"We see that, in order to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of Russia’s war, the Central Asian countries seek new markets and new transportation routes. Therefore, the right moment is here for promoting trade between the EU and Central Asia, working on a better connectivity of the EU with the Central Asian countries, and promoting people-to-people contacts," the Latvian foreign minister said.
At the meeting, Rinkevics expressed Latvia's support for Ukraine being granted the status of a candidate to EU membership at the European Council this June. We must mobilize the greatest possible support worldwide to isolate Russia and assist Ukraine in its all-out efforts to defend the country, the minister underlined.
Rinkevics commended Egypt’s role in the region and underlined the importance of strengthening the EU-Egypt partnership under the current geopolitical conditions. We believe that further cooperation must be aimed at sustainable economic growth, the strengthening of civil society, and respect for the rule of law, human rights and civil liberties. We hope for the UN Climate Conference to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh from 8 to 18 November to deliver on cooperation towards climate goals, the Latvian minister said.
Egypt is a major regional trade partner to the EU with a vital strategic role to play in the security of the Middle East and North Africa, and a great potential for cooperation to be expanded. Egypt’s stabilizing role in the region’s security and control over irregular migration flows is considerable, with broad scale cooperation being underway with the EU to address the causes of illegal migration, facilitate legal migration and return, prevent human trafficking, and strengthen border protection capabilities. Egypt is currently one of the largest recipients of the EU’s financial aid, amounting to about 11 billion euros over the past decade in various forms.