On 16 and 17 June in Tallinn, the Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Foreign Minister of Estonia Urmas Paet, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevičus and the Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier took part in the annual meeting of the foreign ministers of the Baltic states and Germany. The discussions focused on the developments in Ukraine. The ministers also reviewed preparations for the NATO Summit in Wales scheduled for September and the Alliance's measures for strengthening security in the Baltic Sea region, the situation in the European Union following elections to the European Parliament, and other topics of international importance.
The ministers voiced support for the Ukrainian President's peale plan and Ukraine's efforts to resume control and restore peace all over the country, as well as efforts by the EU, OCSE and other international organisations to stabilise Ukraine. The minsiters condemned the shooting down of a Ukrainian military transport plane and other attempts of destabilising the situation in Ukraine, including the continued supplies of heavy weapons across the Russian border to separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The ministers voiced concern over Russia's decision to stop gas supplies to Ukraine and called for an immediate resumption of trilateral EU-Ukraine-Russia talks on the conditions for gas supply to Ukraine. Baltic and German foreign ministers expressed support for signing the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine on 27 June and a speedy signing of such agreements with Georgia and Moldova.
The participants demanded an immediate release of the OSCE monitoring mission observers, including Estonian and German citizens unlawfully captured by separatists. The ministers repeatedly pointed out the illegal character of the annexation of Crimea in terms of international law. Edgars Rinkēvičs called on his colleagues to develop a joint EU policy of non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea that would set out all forms of prohibition on cooperation with the occupied part of Ukrainian territory, as well as preventing the transfer of western military equipment and technologies to Russia. The minister accentuated that Russia's acquisition of the French Mistral-class helicopter carriers could influence security situation in the EU and NATO states themselves.
Edgars Rinkēvičs and other Baltic foreign ministers commended the Baltic states-Germany discussion format and expressed gratitude to Germany for its contribution to the Baltic states security, including participation in NATO's Baltic airspace policing mission and the Baltic Operations exercise by the Alliance warships. In the light of the upcoming NATO summit, the Foreign Minister of Latvia called for an agreement on specific measures of strengthening collective security that would ensure a stronger presence of the Alliance forces in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe.
"Russia's actions in Ukraine and Russian aircraft regularly approaching the Baltic states borders confirm that Article 5 of the NATO treaty and ensuring the Alliance's territorial defence is a current challenge for NATO. We have no doubts about the capacity and readiness of the Alliance to meet those challenges. It is symbolic that 74 years ago on this day, 17 June 1940, Latvia was occupied by Soviet troops, while at present, when Russia is re-drawing European borders, we, being members of the largest military alliance, feel secure and united with our partners," Latvian Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs indicated. The minister spoke in favour of the Alliance's open door principle, a decision on granting Georgia the NATO membership action plan, and closer cooperation with Finland, Sweden and other Partner countries of the Alliance.
Edgars Rinkēvičs confirmed to his colleagues that strengthening cooperation with the member states of the EU Eastern Partnership Initiative and Central Asian countries as well as promoting stability in Afghanistan will be important priorities for the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council. The minister expressed readiness to maintain a close dialogue on these matters with the Baltic states and Germany at all levels.
The ministers exchanged opinions on the impact of the European Parliament election results on the nomination of the European Commissioners and other candidates for EU posts. Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs expressed Latvia's support for the candidate nominated by the European People's Party Group for the position of President of the European Commission, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker.