On 14 November 2022, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union in Brussels, at which the foreign minister discussed support for Ukraine, further sanctions against Russia, and the latest developments in the Western Balkans.
At the meeting, Edgars Rinkēvičs called on the EU Member States to provide all possible military, humanitarian, and financial assistance to Ukraine. He underlined that Latvia supported Ukraine in its European integration and reform processes. The Minister noted that it must be immediately agreed on further practical, including macro-financial, EU’s support for Ukraine, while also devising sustainable EU-scale support systems. It is also important to urgently and inclusively roll out a global coordination platform. The Minister underlined that Latvia welcomed the decision of the Foreign Affairs Council on the launch of the EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine) and the approval of the 16-million-strong European Peace Facility (EPF) measures.
Edgars Rinkēvičs stated a position that the EU should continue a political, economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia, including the reinforcement of restrictive measures and the adoption of the ninth round of sanctions. As the result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, current foundation of relationship between the European Union and Russia has been destroyed, the Minister noted. It would not be possible to return to ‘business as usual’; consequently, the European Union would have to change the paradigm of its relations with Russia. The EU’s policy should be underpinned by deterrence, strategic independence from Russia and the enhancement of resilience. The resilience of the countries neighbouring Russia should be strengthened, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined.
The Council also exchanged views on Western Balkans, especially the upcoming EU-Western Balkans Summit due to take place on 6 December in Tirana, the capital city of Albania.
The Latvian Foreign Minister emphasised that Russia’s war against Ukraine has highlighted the vulnerability of the Western Balkans region and refocused on the geopolitical and strategic importance of the EU enlargement process. In order to reduce the impact of Russia’s war, it is essential to strengthen cooperation between the EU and Western Balkans and continue including the region’s countries into EU initiatives. However, all the countries in the region are expected to act in line with EU values. For instance, Bosnia and Herzegovina should implement reforms set out in the European Commission’s report so as to move ahead along its path of integration with the EU.