RIGA - Ukraine wants to become a European Union (EU) member state, therefore the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) must promote Ukraine's structural reforms, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Unity) said at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris on Thursday,.
As LETA was told at the Foreign Ministry, the meeting focused on the economic and other consequences of Russia’s aggression in the post-pandemic world, trade and environmental sustainability, as well as security and energy related topics in the world.
"Besides unspeakable human losses, the war has caused immense challenges for global economic growth that we must tackle. A looming food crisis, weaning ourselves off Russian fossil fuels and galloping inflation are geopolitical considerations that will determine choosing suppliers of strategic commodities across the globe. In order to stop fueling Putin’s war machine, we are phasing out Russian energy supplies, Rinkevics said in a session on economic and other consequences of Russia's large scale aggression in a post-pandemic world.
The foreign minister expressed Latvia’s support for setting up the OECD-Ukraine Liaison Office, while stating that the rebuilding of Ukraine must go hand in hand with structural reforms and transformation of the state.
"Ukraine wants to get EU candidate status, and the OECD is well placed to facilitate the country’s structural reforms, especially with policy advice on good governance, anti-corruption, investment climate and regional development. To reach these goals, OECD work on Ukraine should be adequately financed. Focusing on Ukraine cannot mean forgetting other countries vulnerable to Russia. We must reinforce dialogue with countries of the Eurasia Regional Programme, including on trade diversification, energy security, as well as addressing disinformation and war propaganda," Rinkevics said.
A session of the OECD Ministerial Council meeting featured a discussion on cooperation between the OECD and African countries. The African countries have a considerable potential of the wind, sun, water and geothermal energy for the development of energy production. For instance, over the time period from 2014 to 2019, the number of people who have access to electric power has doubled, thus exceeding the population growth rates.
Approximately 600 million Africans and 10 million small and medium-sized companies have insufficient access to electricity. Millions of African households use charcoal, wood and petroleum as domestic fuel for cooking. Due to current consumption of charcoal, Africa loses three per cent of its forests annually.
In addition, one of the greatest problems in Africa is the lack of investments in renewable energy resources. Africa accounts only for two per cent of the total amount of global investments in renewable energy resources over the past 20 years.
Rinkevics pointed to energy as key to development and green transition in Africa that can help resolve many social, economic, health and environmental problems.
Africa has plenty of raw materials needed for the green transformation in economy. However, it is vital to prevent competition for those resources from causing or aggravating conflicts and generating additional tension in those areas. For the advantages of green transition to take effect, a comprehensive package of policies is needed to link together environmental goals, job creation, social equality and the overall welfare of society as well as strong institutions and effective coordination at the regional level.
“Regardless of the manifold challenges, the continent continues to be home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Moreover, the new geopolitical situation caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine calls for closer ties with our partners, including in Africa. Latvia is interested in intensifying political dialogue and economic cooperation with African countries bilaterally and through multilateral frameworks," the Latvian minister said.