E.Rinkēvičs ES Ārlietu paromes sanāksmē

On 16 May 2022, the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, at which EU foreign ministers discussed the EU’s support to Ukraine, EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus, and the issue of the Western Balkans. The Foreign Affairs Council was preceded by the meeting of the EU-Canada Joint Ministerial Committee, at which the parties discussed global challenges, including foreign policy and security priorities as well as cooperation between the EU and NATO.

During the meeting, Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed Latvia’s support for granting an EU candidate status to Ukraine. He noted that a coordinated international political and diplomatic pressure on Russia and Belarus must remain in place, and the price Russia should pay for continuing an unjustified war must be increased to the utmost. A coordinated support of every kind for Ukraine’s immediate needs must also continue. Russia must be called to justice before international courts, and other legal mechanisms must be used to investigate into war crimes and crimes against peace and humanity. In addition, restrictive measures must be increased as much as possible in the financial, energy and other sectors, sanctions must be expanded against natural and legal persons, including those responsible for propaganda and disinformation in Russia, the Latvian Foreign Minister said. Russia must assume full responsibility and costs related to rebuilding Ukraine. A uniform EU-wide regulation is needed to enable Russia’s funds frozen in the Member States being used for the future rebuilding of Ukraine. Consequently, the sanctions should continue until Russia’s forces are withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine and an agreement is achieved on Russia’s obligations concerning the rebuilding of Ukraine, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined.

Speaking about the Western Balkans, the Latvian Foreign Minister stated an opinion that the enlargement countries are expected to act in accordance with the EU’s values and goals, and to be especially clear about their support for the position of the EU concerning Russia’s war in Ukraine. We expect Serbia as a candidate for EU membership to fully implement the EU’s decisions, including sanctions against Russia and Belarus; otherwise, we cannot support the further accession process, Edgars Rinkēvičs noted.    

At the same time, the Minister drew attention to the need for strengthening of the resilience of the Western Balkans region to hybrid threat and disinformation. The Minister expressed Latvia’s support for launching accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible.