On 14 April, the Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the meeting of the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg.
The focus of the meeting was on the situation in Ukraine and EU’s further action in relations with Russia. The ministers reiterated their support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urged Russia to call back its troops from Ukraine. The Council approved financial assistance to Ukraine to support the country’s structural reforms and economic stabilisation. The foreign ministers also agreed about temporary customs tariff cuts on Ukrainian exports to the EU.
Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs called on the EU to give a strong response to the developments in Ukraine in the past days, as there are signs of escalation that reminds of the scenario of taking over Crimea. This could lead to further use of military force with a threat of evolving into a civil war. Minister Rinkēvičs called for further measures available to the EU to be prepared for the normalisation of situation. Speaking about possible economic sanctions, Edgars Rinkēvičs urged to assess their impact on the EU’s economy and that of its member states, as well as to consider possible compensation measures.
The list of those subject to visa ban and asset freeze also needs to be expanded.
Latvian Foreign Minister called upon Russia to stop supporting separatists. The minister indicated that Russia should stop the activities of special forces and pull back its troops from the Ukrainian-Russian border. The minister also noted that the EU member states should continue providing support for Ukraine both in a bilateral format and on a broader EU level.
During the meeting the ministers expressed concern that the EU integration process in Bosnia and Herzegovina has stalled due to the lack of political will on the part of the country’s politicians. In view of the socioeconomic situation in the country and in response to the immediate needs of the population, work should be continued on implementing the most crucial reforms. To address that, the ministers supported the European Commission initiatives to improve economic governance and strengthen competitiveness, as well as stimulate economic growth.
The foreign ministers also exchanged views on the latest developments in Syria, focusing in particular to the alarming humanitarian situation in the country, Syrian peace talks, the impact of the Syrian crisis on the region and the process of the removal of chemical weapons.