On 29 and 30 November 2022, in Bucharest, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the Meeting of the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
In a discussion on support for Ukraine, Edgars Rinkēvičs pointed out that Russia’s escalative measures, including large scale missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure, as well as an irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, signalled that Russia had failed to achieve its strategic goals. The Minister underlined that a moral obligation of NATO member states was not only to continue but also to increase bilateral and joint military support for Ukraine. Likewise, NATO members ought to help Ukrainian civilians, especially during winter, to prevent a humanitarian disaster.
Together with the Baltic and Nordic Foreign Ministers, I saw the tragic consequences of Russia’s attacks on civilian and critical infrastructure in Kyiv, Edgars Rinkēvičs said. We must pool our efforts to help Ukraine restore its infrastructure heavily damaged by Russia’s strikes. Latvia will continue supporting Ukraine politically and practically through providing assistance to the Ukrainian energy sector for as long as it would be necessary, the Latvian Foreign Minister noted, while calling on all the Allies to do likewise.
Referring to Russia, the Foreign Minister recognised that threats it was causing to Euro-Atlantic security have not diminished. Russia still remains the most serious and direct threat to NATO in a foreseeable future, he noted. Our response to Russia’s confrontational approach, military threat and hybrid activities must be a better preparedness and resilience as well as strong deterrence and defence. We must reduce our vulnerability and dependence, while increasing contribution into defence. Latvia continues investing in the development of its military capabilities and infrastructure in order to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank, and Latvia is thankful to the Allies for their presence in Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs said.
In a discussion on China, the Foreign Minister pointed out that the country should be seen as posing a challenge in the long term. In recent years, the Alliance has invested considerable efforts to raise awareness of China’s ambition, and the importance of a policy regarding our interests, security and values. We must continue to adjust our response accordingly. China’s assertive behaviour poses challenges and threats to our security globally and regionally. We must continue carefully evaluating the strategic partnership between Russia and China which could produce unpredictable consequences, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined. He also recognised that the Alliance, all on its own, could not resolve complex challenges posed by China; therefore, Latvia supported in-depth cooperation with partners in the Asia-Pacific region and the European Union.
On the sidelines of the NATO Ministerial, the Latvian Foreign Minister together with his Estonian and Lithuanian counterparts met with the UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, James Cleverly. At the meeting, Edgars Rinkēvičs commended the UK’s contribution to strengthening security in the Baltic region, and he expressed interest in the promotion of interoperability of the armed forces and bilateral cooperation in the defence sector.
The Foreign Minister also had a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, at which Edgars Rinkēvičs thanked Czechia for its participation in the NATO battle group, and he expressed a wish for deeper cooperation between defence industry companies in the two countries.
The Minister also took part in a ministerial meeting in the “G7+” format in support of Ukraine and in an official event to look back at the Prague Summit in 2002, which marked the launch of NATO accession negotiations with seven countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The process was concluded in 2044 with the accession of those countries to the organisation.