On 25 November in London, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, met with David Lidington, the Minister of State for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to discuss bilateral cooperation, the role of the United Kingdom in the European Union, the ongoing implementation of the Eastern Partnership policy and the security environment in the region and across the globe.
Edgars Rinkēvičs confirmed Latvia’s interest in continuing and intensifying the successful bilateral cooperation and active political dialogue with the United Kingdom which has always been an important cooperation partner to Latvia. The Foreign Minister also thanked the United Kingdom for its contribution to the strengthening of security in the region through deployment British troops to the Baltic States. It is necessary to make efforts on promotion of a long-term Allied presence in our region and in fact we can see this in the active work being done in preparation of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the Minister noted.
Referring to childcare issues for families of Latvian nationals residing in the United Kingdom, Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasised that Latvia has on a number of occasions drawn the attention of British authorities to the fact that the Embassy of Latvia in the United Kingdom should be informed without delay of any case when minor children of Latvian nationals in the United Kingdom are taken into care as specified in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Edgars Rinkēvičs also informed David Lidington that the Embassy of Latvia in London, together with several other EU Member State embassies in the United Kingdom, have developed proposals for amendments to guidelines followed by British social services regarding cooperation with foreign authorities in matters of childcare. The Latvian Foreign Service will be working to ensure that broader information on protection of the rights of children for their country of residence is made available to Latvian nationals living abroad.
The Minister noted the positive practice of early involvement of the Embassy of Latvia, which in several cases has helped authorities in both countries to find a successful solution that is in the child’s best interests. Both Ministers committed themselves to working on solutions that promote a smoother and faster exchange of information between Latvian and British authorities in cases concerning the interests of minors.
At the meeting the Ministers exchanged views on the role of the United Kingdom in the European Union, the review and changes in the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom and the upcoming referendum related to this review. We understand the United Kingdom’s position with respect to questions of EU reform; it is important, however, that changes are made in a way that does not involve discrimination toward the citizens of other EU Member States. Latvia envisions the United Kingdom as a strong and active EU Member State in future and is prepared to facilitate solutions mutually acceptable for all, said Edgars Rinkēvičs.