On 11 May 2018, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States and Germany held in Palanga to discuss current European Union (EU) issues, preparations for the NATO summit in Brussels this coming July and the EU’s cooperation in security and defence.
“In our opinion, decisions taken at the NATO summit in Warsaw have proved their worth till now, as NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence battle groups have been deployed in our region. The NATO Brussels summit is to take several decisions important for us that are related to the modernisation of the Alliance, enhancing command structures, mobility of troops, and an agreement on a strategy for sending reinforcements. All these elements are aimed at increasing NATO’s crisis management capabilities, which is vital for our region,” stressed Edgars Rinkēvičs.
The parties also discussed the European Commission’s vision of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for the next period. The Minister expressed an opinion that the EU’s multiannual budget over the next period should be aimed at the convergence of living standards among all EU Member States, which also includes a fair cohesion policy and distribution of direct payments among the Member States. It is no less important to retain the Eastern Partnership as one of the EU’s priorities, which would be a strong support for the Eastern Partnership countries on their path to further integration with the EU.
Speaking on the energy policy issue, the Foreign Minister underlined the need for a closer integration of the Baltic States in the EU’s energy market. “The Nord Stream 2 project threatens to increase our dependence on a single dominating supplier and one supply route. It endangers investments planned and already made towards the diversification of supply routes and promoting competition, and this could also have political repercussions in the future. The only way out is to tackle these issues at the EU level, including through strengthening the EU and its principles. Therefore, we support the efforts of preserving an essential gas transit route via Ukraine also after 2019, and we question the grounds for the Nord Stream 2 project, especially in the context of the current geopolitical situation,” Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasised.
Referring to the impact of propaganda and the need for intensifying the fight against disinformation, the Latvian Foreign Minister gave his counterparts an example of a report titled “Kulturkampf in Lettland” that was screened on Arte, a Franco-German TV network. Edgars Rinkēvičs drew the ministers’ attention to fact that the report featuring the Russian-speaking minority was tendentious and disinformational. “It is surprising that those who created the Arte news report, while visiting Latvia, sought out deliberately and purposefully the evidence that would point to Latvians attempting to oppress the Russian minority in Latvia. What’s more, the story used opinions and claims of separate individuals that were manifestly contrary to Latvian law and distorted the truth. Regrettably, the journalists never even bothered to ascertain the facts and check information,” said the Latvian Foreign Minister.
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