At the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 15 August, Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed serious concern and condemnation over new reports on military equipment and units being brought from Russia into the territory of Ukraine. "Creating in Ukraine another 'frozen conflict' must be prevented," the minister emphasised. "Any attempts to impose on Ukraine 'humanitarian aid' or 'peacekeepers' are also totally unacceptable: those would in fact be measures targeted at escalating the situation. International humanitarian aid can only be provided with Ukraine's consent and under strict supervision of competent international organisations. The European Union must be ready to respond appropriately, if Russia continues to aggravate the situation," Edgars Rinkēvičs stated.
As regards unjustified restrictive measures imposed by Russia against food imports from the EU, the minister calls on the EU member states to demonstrate solidarity and unity seeking joint solutions to mitigate the impact of those measures on member state economies. "To this end, the mechanisms of the World Trade Organisation should be actively used, because Russia, being a member of that organisation, has assumed certain commitments," said the minister.
At the same time, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs supports the EU's efforts to sustain a dialogue with Russia's officials so that Russia stops the flow of combatants and arms to Ukraine, withdraws troops from the border area, stops shelling Ukrainian territory and takes other measures which would confirm that Russia, as it has declared, is interested in normalizing the situation in Ukraine. In his address to the Foreign Affairs Council, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs pointed out that the EU should continue working to achieve that Ukraine's armed separatist organisations 'The Donetsk People's Republic' and 'The Luhansk People's Republic' are put on the list of terrorist organisations with all the ensuing consequences. The EU High Representative Catherine Ashton added that a practical discussion in the European Union on this question will continue in the first days of September.
EU foreign ministers discussed the situation in Iraq. Latvia is concerned about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Iraq. ISIL's terrorist attacks on ethnic and religious minorities deserve condemnation. The provision of military support for defending Iraqi Kurds should be considered in compliance with the EU Code of Conduct and without violating the conditions of the arms embargo imposed on Iraq.
The Council also talked about the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Latvia supports all efforts of de-escalating the situation and called on all the involved parties to agree on a cease-fire and the protection of civilians. Humanitarian situation raises serious concerns. It is worth recalling that the Government of Latvia has contributed to extraordinary humanitarian aid by paying EUR 50 000 into the assistance fund of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
The Foreign Affairs Council reviewed other international developments of current importance – the Middle East Peace Process, the situation in Libya and Syria, and measures to stop the spread of the Ebola virus.