Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs meets his Bulgarian colleague in Sofia
On 19 September, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, was in Bulgaria for a working visit. In Sofia, Minister Rinkēvičs met with his Bulgarian colleague Nickolay Mladenov, the Chairperson of the Natiaonal Assembly of Bulgaria, Tsetska Tsacheva and the Bulgaria-Latvia parliamentary cooperation group.
Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs noted with satisfaction that this year sees the 90th anniversary since Bulgaria recognised Latvia’s independence. Both ministers expressed intention to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, notably, in the field of economy and trade. Ministers Rinkēvičs and Mladenov agreed to hold regular consultations between experts from both foreign ministries about the topics on the current European and international agenda.
Latvia and Bulgaria cooperate successfully also within the EU and NATO. Latvia, like Bulgaria, is interested in the convergence of the rates of direct payments in agriculture and preserving cohesion policy funding: both states belong to the “Friends of Cohesion Policy” group. Minister Rinkēvičs and Mladenov also discussed the current developments in the EU and the Eurozone. Latvian Foreign Minister indicated that Latvia was interested in joining a strong euro area in 2014; the decision, however, would be taken next spring. At the same time, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs stressed that non-eurozone countries should be in negotiations and formats at which economic and financial stability measures are decided, as those decisions affect all the EU member states.
The Foreign minister of Latvia expressed support for the inclusion of Bulgaria into the area of the Schengen Agreement. The report by the Commission confirms that Bulgaria has fulfilled the required criteria for that. Bulgarian Foreign Minister expressed interest in taking over the experience of the implementation of the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region while developing cooperation in the Black Sea region.
Ministers Rinkēvičs and Mladenov expressed support for the Eastern Partnership initiative and its member countries in integrating with Europe and carrying out reforms. The parties discussed possibilities for strengthening Latvian-Bulgarian cooperation in the defence sector.
Both Latvia and Bulgaria are interested in increasing tourist exchange between both countries. In the field of culture, Minister Rinkēvičs highlighted the participation by a world-renowned Bulgarian conductor, Vladimir Kiradijev, at the Sigulda Opera Festival where he conducted La Traviata. The project was carried out with the assistance from the Honorary Consul in Bulgaria, Alexander Popov. Latvian Foreign Minister expressed hope that this type of cooperation would continue.
During the meeting between Mr Rinkēvičs and the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Ms Tsetska Tsacheva, the parties expressed determination to strengthen contacts between the members of Latvian and Bulgarian Parliaments.
During his visit, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs gave several interviews for the Bulgarian mass media, including the public television and radio of Bulgaria.