RIGA - Romania will join the NATO-led Baltic airspace policing mission next year, Latvian President Egils Levits told journalists following a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis on Wednesday.
Levits also informed that Romania plans to open its embassy in Latvia, noting that this is an important decision as it will strengthen the two countries bilateral economic and political ties. It will also help better coordinate work on the two countries' common interests.
Levits indicated that the Romanian president's visit to Latvia symbolizes the two countries' friendly and good relations. The meeting between the two presidents is an opportunity to strengthen the relations, which is especially important in the current international situation.
Levits underlined that Latvia and Romania are allies in the European Union (EU), NATO and other international organizations. The two countries have similar positions on many essential issues, including those concerning Russia's war in Ukraine, which has changed the strategic security environment in Europe.
Since Romania is preparing to host next year's Three Seas Initiative Summit, which Latvia organized this year, Levits noted that this format provides the opportunity to the region's countries to work jointly on their common interests, infrastructure, energy and technology matters, thus speeding up development in these sectors.
The Latvian president said that his meeting with the Romanian colleague dealt with the situation in the Western Balkan region and that both presidents were unanimous on the necessity to achieve progress - the fact that Western Balkan countries have been left in uncertainty for the past 15 years is destabilizing the situation not only in the Western Balkans but also in neighboring regions.
The Romanian president praised the good relations between Romania and Latvia, saying that the decision to open the embassy in Riga only underlines the good relations, as well as Romania's wish to expand the bilateral relations and coordinate positions in the EU, NATO, regional and many other formats.
Iohannis told journalists that during their talks, the two presidents agreed to step up cooperation in various areas like scientific research, education, infrastructure and security. Bilateral ties are becoming more intensive also because of growing trade volumes. Direct flights between Riga and Bucharest are due to be restarted on May 1, 2023, the Romanian president noted.
The Romanian president thanked Levits for constantly supporting Romania's admission to the Schengen Area and its membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The Romanian president thanked Latvia for supporting Romania's accession to the EU and the bloc's enlargement to the Western Balkan direction. The two president discussed also the situation in Ukraine, with the Romanian president stressing that his country has been supporting Ukraine from day one.
"We will continue to coordinate support measures for Ukraine. Together with my Latvian colleagues I wish to express support for the EU and NATO's efforts to put extra pressure on Russia by adopting additional sanctions," Iohannis said.