On 5-6 February in Amsterdam, the Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in an informal meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union (EU). In a joint session of EU Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers discussed the development of the EU Global Foreign and Security Policy Strategy. The Latvian Foreign Minister emphasised that the strategy in the making should promote the EU’s role as a global player, while at the same time fostering stability, security and development in the EU's neighbouring regions.
This context is important, given that the most direct and serious threat to countries in the European Union stems from areas of instability in the Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods. The EU must assist its southern neighbours in addressing challenges such as the spread of terrorism, political extremism, religious radicalisation, and uncontrolled migration. At the same time, eastern neighbours need the EU’s support for defending their territorial integrity and even statehood as well as in tackling problems of internal transformation and implementation of reforms.
The European Union needs the capacities and political will to focus its attention first and foremost on its surrounding regions. In this context, the revised European Neighbourhood Policy should prioritise stability and sustainable development in the neighbourhood.
Edgars Rinkēvičs highlighted the strengthening of trans-Atlantic links as a crucial element of the strategy now under discussion. “EU-NATO cooperation in security and defence has strategic importance and is the main building block of the European defence architecture. The EU should aim for greater EU-NATO coordination and synergies in areas such as resilience to hybrid warfare, cyber defence, strategic communication, countering disinformation, and in boosting the strength and security of the EU and NATO external border,” the Latvian Foreign Minister emphasised.
Edgars Rinkēvičs called on the European Union to be more open-minded and flexible in regard to forging co-operation with countries that share the same values and interests with the EU. “Alliances of like-minded countries, such as Australia, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, should be considered in pursuit of European interests globally,” the Latvian Foreign Minister noted.
The informal Gymnich meetings, organised by the Presidency of the EU Council twice a year, are a long-standing tradition for the foreign ministers of the European Union. The meetings are chaired the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The meetings feature a strategic discussion on the goals and instruments of the European Union's foreign and security policy.
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