On 20 June in Reykjavík, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Baltic Region (Reykjavík Ministerial) organised by the Icelandic Presidency to mark the 25th anniversary of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). At the event, the Foreign Ministers shared views on the contribution of the CBSS to the region’s development and resolving regional issues, and discussed the prospects for enhancing regional cooperation.
Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed satisfaction that the Council of the Baltic Sea States has become a regional, project-oriented cooperation format. The Minister voiced support for the CBSS long-term priorities of strengthening regional identity, sustainable development and well-being, which are prerequisites for a higher security across the region. Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined that environmental protection, education and the fight against organised crime should be future priorities for the Council of the Baltic Sea States.
In his remarks, the Minister stressed the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement, which provides a framework for cooperation and custom-made regional activities in the areas of climate, environment and energy also for the CBSS. The implementation of the Paris Agreement should continue in close cooperation with global partners, said the Minister and noted that all countries should therefore contribute to the mitigation of climate change, which is already causing environmental, economic and social problems and presents a major risk to geopolitical stability and security. In this context, a synergy between the Paris Agreement and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is also of key importance, stressed Edgars Rinkēvičs.
Since education has a vital role to play in fostering a stronger regional identity, Latvia supports continuation of the Eurofaculty project both through summer universities and a joint interuniversity Baltic Studies programme, said the Minister.
During his stay in Reykjavík, Foreign Minister also had a meeting with Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, the Executive Director of the Employers’ Confederation of Iceland, to discuss bilateral economic relations with Iceland, especially the creation of business incubators and cooperation between companies of both countries in information technologies and tourism. Latvia sees opportunities, Edgars Rinkēvičs noted, for expanding business contacts, including through diversifying the offer of goods in mutual trade. We are pleased, he added, that the mutual trade turnover has increased: import and export rose by about one quarter in 2016. Edgars Rinkēvičs invited investors from Iceland to continue promoting the successful Icelandic-Latvian cooperation.
The Foreign Minister also met with the Honorary Consul of Latvia in Iceland, Jon Snorrasson, to discuss consular issues in the country and to thank the Consul for his substantial personal contribution to providing consular assistance in Iceland.
The Council of the Baltic Sea States was established in 1992, and its members are the three Baltic States, the Nordic countries, Germany, Poland, Russia, and the European Commission. On 1 July 2017, Iceland will hand over the CBSS Presidency to Sweden. Latvia is to assume its Presidency of the Council in the mid-2018.
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