Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs: It is essential for the EU to retain unity in further talks with the UK

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The Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs at his working visit to Ireland met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Simon Coveney. The focus of their discussions was placed on bilateral cooperation between Latvia and Ireland, the issues of the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and Europe’s future.

In an exchange of views on bilateral relations between both countries, the ministers welcomed the active and regular political dialogue between Latvia and Ireland. Edgars Rinkēvičs made a commitment to sustain an intensive dialogue at all levels to promote practical cooperation, especially on issues relevant for the Latvian diaspora in Ireland. At the same time, the Minister Rinkēvičs called on Ireland to take the opportunity and also meet with Latvia in the Baltic and Nordic format for consultations on various EU-related topics.

The Ministers had a broad-ranging discussion on EU issues, including the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasised that it is of key importance for the EU to maintain unity in further negotiations with the UK. It is in Latvia’s interests that, also after Brexit, as close as possible cooperation is ensured with the UK in economy, trade, security and defence. It is clear, however, that the negotiations on the UK leaving the EU should be concluded before the talks can begin on future relationship between the EU and the UK. Edgars Rinkēvičs noted with regret that the needed breakthrough has not yet been achieved on the priority issues of the UK’s withdrawal.

The Minister stressed that it is essential for Latvia to be part of the core EU in talks on Europe’s future and contribute to a discussion on various future initiatives. Edgars Rinkēvičs said he welcomed the drive to make Europe more united and capable in security matters and defence. It is vital to continue efforts of ensuring the EU’s capabilities and working at the EU level so as to complement NATO, and Latvia has just demonstrated that commitment by joining PESCO.

The Minister emphasised the importance of focusing on the convergence and cohesion in the Union not only in the context of the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, but also working on key issues such as the EU’s Single Market, energy, transport and Europe’s social dimension.

Referring to the EU Multiannual Financial Framework, Edgars Rinkēvičs called for the right balance to be found between traditional priorities enshrined in the treaties – the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy – and the emerging challenges in migration, defence and other fields.

Both Ministers also discussed preparations for the EU Eastern Partnership Summit and were unanimous that, at this event, it is vital to maintain the level of ambition declared earlier in the EU’s cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries; however, the partners should be supported as they pursue their individual aspirations in building relationship with the EU.

During his visit, the Minister also met with members of the Latvian diaspora organisations and discussed opportunities for future cooperation.

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