On 21-22 April in Jūrmala, the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic, Nordic and Visegrad Group countries convened for their traditional meeting, organised this time by Latvia which is coordinating Baltic and Nordic cooperation (NB8)together with the Czech Republic, which holds presidency of the Visegrad Group (V4).
At the meeting, the Ministers discussed security policy issues and those of current importance for the European Union, as well as prospects for building stronger cooperation. The Ministers emphasised that amid the multiple challenges Europe is currently facing, it is crucial to maintain unity and solidarity.
With reference to the energy security, Ministers exchanged views on possible ways to broaden cooperation in order to advance all five dimensions of the EU Energy Union, and stressed the importance of the energy security package. Ministers also touched upon development of regional projects in the energy sector with the aim to ensure diversification of energy supplies and further integration of the internal energy market. It was also pointed out that the Nord Stream II project is not in line with the goals and core principles of the Energy Union.
In the context of strengthening security, Ministers discussed preparations for the Warsaw NATO Summit. The Ministers highlighted NATO’s cooperation with Finland and Sweden. A positive evaluation was offered on joint projects in reinforcement of security, such as the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga. Ministers also exchanged views on uniting efforts towards the strengthening of an independent professional media.
Referring to the EU’s Eastern Partnership, Ministers agreed that the Eastern Partnership policy should be kept in the focus of the EU’s attention. Ministers reaffirmed support for the commitments set out in the Joint Declaration of the Riga Summit, while looking up to the next Eastern Partnership Summit in 2017 Ministers confirmed their readiness to continue bolstering the implementation of the Association Agreements with Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova and emphasised that cooperation with the other partner countries should be developed in conformity with the differentiation principle. In the area of mobility, Ministers noted that visa free travel should be granted to Georgia and Ukraine without delay.
The NB8+V4 format of Foreign Ministers’ meetings is a joint initiative by Poland and Sweden that was launched already in 2013. The Foreign Ministers of the 12 countries previously met in Gdansk, Poland, in 2013; in Narva, Estonia, in 2014; and in the High Tatras of Slovakia in 2015.
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