On 6 and 7 March Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Baltic, Nordic and Visegrád states held in the city of Narva, Estonia.
The ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine and agreed to closely coordinate further actions by the Baltic, Nordic and Visegrád states. The ministers also issued a joint statement in which they strongly condemned Russia's aggression and called on Russia to honour its international commitments and immediately withdraw its armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing. The ministers pledged strong support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and preparedness to assist Ukraine in its pursuit of reforms, as well as expressing readiness to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in the nearest possible future.
Edgars Rinkēvičs drew the attention of the participants to security policy challenges in the context of the developments in Ukraine and indicated that Ukraine was currently a litmus test for Europe and the entire world. In view of the escalation of events in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs also urged to pay attention to the security situation in Moldova and Georgia. Minister Rinkēvičs stressed that a broader cooperation among the region's countries in the area of defence, irrespective of the organisational affiliation of the Baltic, Nordic and Visegrád states, is becoming increasingly important.
Strengthening NATO's partnership policy and EU-NATO cooperation is of a vital importance. The minister accentuated that NATO exercises in the region should be held regularly. Edgars Rinkēvičs gave an example of successful cooperation: the NATO Response Force exercise Steadfast Jazz held in the Baltic states and Poland last year. Latvian Foreign Minister commended the increased presence of NATO's Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states.
During a discussion on regional energy and gas infrastructure projects, Minister Rinkēvičs accentuated the significance of regional cooperation. In the gas sector, it was important to jointly address the challenges such as market liberalisation, the diversification of supplies, and ceasing isolation. The minister stressed that in the energy sector it was vital to cooperate with the Caucasian countries and Central Asia. As regards the transport sector, Minister Rinkēvičs highlighted the importance of developing the Nordic-Baltic railway network and further integration of transport infrastructure in regional networks.
The meeting of Baltic, Nordic and Visegrád foreign ministers currently held in Narva takes place for the second time. The first meeting in this format took place in Gdańsk, Poland, on 20 February 2013.