European Union News
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Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On 12 and 13 June 2024, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andris Pelšs, participated in an informal meeting of State Secretaries and Directors General from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the European Union (EU) Member States in Budapest, where Hungary presented its priorities for the Presidency of the Council of the EU, which will begin on 1 July.

The aim of the meeting, organised by the incoming presidency of the Council of the EU, is to discuss current issues on the EU agenda, outlining priorities for the next six months, which this year will also mark the start of a new EU institutional cycle.

“The EU must provide all the necessary support for Ukraine to win. It is important to implement the EU’s security commitments with Ukraine without hesitation, to endorse the framework for accession negotiations and convene an intergovernmental conference, as well as to continue to put pressure on Russia through sanctions,” stressed Andris Pelšs.

During the discussion, the State Secretary mentioned strengthening defence and resilience as one of the EU’s current tasks, which includes improving national defence capabilities and supporting the development of the military industry. Andris Pelšs also stated that Latvia’s constant priority is a fully functioning Single Market based on fair competition, which can be promoted by reducing the EU’s internal fragmentation and strengthening economic resilience.

The meeting discussed the main directions of work in the area of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. It focused on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East, the need to develop faster and more effective EU decision-making, and the common interest of all Member States in building the EU as a geopolitically strong and effective player.

During the discussion, the State Secretary, Andris Pelšs, stressed the need to continue to put pressure on Russia’s budget to reduce its financial capacity to continue its war of aggression in Ukraine. He noted the strengthening of sanctions to combat Russia’s “shadow fleet” and the inclusion of raw materials used in Russian military production on the sanctions list. Andris Pelšs highlighted the alignment of sanctions against Russia and Belarus to prevent the circumvention of sanctions through Belarus and drew attention to Russia’s growing hybrid activities in Europe, which could intensify in the future. To ensure Russia’s accountability for its war crimes, the State Secretary expressed support for work towards the creation of an international tribunal within the European Council.