WATCH LIVE: Major security conference focuses on Ukraine crisis

  • 2014-09-12
  • From wire reports, RIGA

Latvian PM Laimdota Straujuma is set to address the Riga conference (photo: flickr)

The largest security and foreign policy forum in Northern Europe launches in Latvia today.

Top foreign security and  policy experts, diplomats, politicians and academics, are set to discuss the Ukraine crisis and energy policy and European politics and the Riga conference on September 12.

Latvia's foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics welcomed the conference in Latvia:

"The war in Ukraine has irreversibly altered the security situation on our continent. That is why it is symbolic that before Latvia’s presidency of the European Union Council in 2015, Conference members will outline possible scenarios in order to find answers as to how best to strengthen mainstream values in the Euro-Atlantic space," he said.

“The Rīga Conference has become the most significant forum for discussing Northern European security and public diplomacy, and this year the forum is being honored with the presence of colleagues from European countries and high-level experts.

Attending the conference includes Secretary-General of the OECD Angel Gurría, Minister of Defence of Norway Ine Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius, Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Maia Panjikidze, Minister of National Defence of Poland Tomasz Siemoniak, as well as Professor of US Foreign Policy, Old Dominion University, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair (Emeritus) in Global Security and Geostrategy, CSIS, Simon Serfaty.

“Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the inconsistent security environment has encouraged to reconsider a range of issues related to NATO and Europe’s security. The Rīga Conference will allow foreign and security policy-makers, experts, academics and journalists to identify the current security trends. I am confident that lessons learned will provide additional vision and inspiration in response to the current events,” highlights Minister of Defence of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis.

Toms Baumanis, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Transatlantic Organization, emphasizes the topicality of the Rīga Conference in relation the current events in the world: “This is the second time in the past few years when one of Latvia’s neighbors carries out a military invasion into the territory of another neighbor country. In 2008 Russia seized the sovereign territory of Georgia by military force. In 2014 Russia occupied Crimea and now has started a war against Ukraine.

Baumanis added: "If Russia is trying to alter the borders, drawn after the Cold War, by military force, then security of Latvia is being endangered as well. In the next few years the European geopolitical situation will change. Latvia and other Baltic States are placed in the front-line, where nothing has changed since the World War II.”

The conference is jointly organized by the Latvian Transatlantic Organization (LATO) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence of Latvia.