Latvian Foreign Minister calls on EU for continued attention to Eastern neighbors

  • 2011-11-15
  • TBT Staff

During his meetings in Brussels Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics emphasized the role of Pakistan and the Central Asian countries in combating terrorism and drugs transit.

On Nov. 14 Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics took part in the session of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels where, under the leadership of High Representative Catherine Ashton, an exchange of opinions was held on the situation developing in the EU Southern Neighborhood region and the countries of the Horn of Africa, the preparation for the international conference on Afghanistan and the EU Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), reports the foreign ministry.  

Ahead of the international conference on Afghanistan, to be held on Dec. 5 in Bonn, the ministers agreed to extend the mandate of the EUPOL mission until 2014, and at the same time reiterated the EU’s commitment to continue its involvement in strengthening the police and the rule of law after 2014. An agreement was also reached to launch negotiations on the EU-Afghanistan Cooperation and Development Agreement, thus pledging the EU’s readiness for long-term cooperation. As part of the discussion the Latvian Foreign Minister emphasized the role of regional partners – Pakistan and the Central Asian countries – in combating terrorism and drugs transit.

The ministers also exchanged views on the latest developments in the Southern Neighborhood region. The ministers noted the importance of opening an EU Office in Tripoli and debated proposals for a further EU involvement in the renewal of Libya. In response to recent events in Syria, the foreign ministers condemned violence and agreed that sanctions should be expanded.

In the analysis of the situation in the Horn of Africa, major focus was given to the humanitarian situation in Somalia and on the issues posing a security threat outside the region, including piracy. The ministers approved the EU Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa laying down a comprehensive approach to addressing security and development challenges in the region.

In view of an increasing demand for the EU involvement in the solution of crises, the foreign ministers at a working luncheon informally discussed further ways of improving the EU Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). Latvia is interested in ensuring that the new CSDP initiatives promote the advancement of the EU and NATO cooperation at the political and operational level.

During his visit to Brussels, the Foreign Minister of Latvia also met with European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule. In the framework of the meeting, Edgars Rinkevics emphasized that political events in Europe’s southern neighborhood should not divert the EU’s attention from its Eastern neighbors and the role of the Eastern Partnership. The EU support has to be geographically balanced. The EU partner countries, for their part, must implement political and economic reforms in order to use the opportunities of rapprochement offered by the EU. When discussing the EU enlargement process, Minister Rinkevics and Commissioner Fule were of the same opinion that a constructive dialogue with Turkey and the Balkan countries should be continued about the efforts towards carrying out the necessary reforms.