On 21 May 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the annual meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States and Germany in Hamburg, Germany. The officials discussed current cooperation and security issues concerning the Baltic States and Germany as well as the topical agenda for the European Union, NATO and the Council of Europe.
The Baltic States and Germany devoted particular attention to the security situation in Ukraine and agreed that Russia’s actions still made it difficult to achieve a possible solution. Russia’s offer to the Ukrainian residents of Donbass to obtain Russian citizenship was highlighted by the officials as particularly alarming. The Latvian Foreign Minister noted that there should be a clear and united EU approach on this issue, discussions on which were expected at the next EU Foreign Affairs Council.
At the same time, the states recognised that calls on Russia to release Ukrainian sailors detained in the Kerch incident last year should be continued. Ukraine’s reform processes and the fight against corruption should also be further supported. In the relationship with Russia, we need a dual approach – both ongoing sanctions for violations of international law, and dialogue and engaging Russia in areas where it is possible, noted Edgars Rinkēvičs in the press conference following the meeting.
As the Foreign Ministers shared views on the upcoming European Parliament elections, they concluded that the main priority was a strong European Union, and the consolidation of radical opinions could not be tolerated.
The Latvian Foreign Minister welcomed Germany’s participation in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence activities and, for the tenth time, in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, which is a significant contribution to the strengthening of collective security in the Baltic States. The preparation for the NATO Summit in London was then discussed, as were separate EU defence initiatives.
As part of his visit, the Minister also took part in a launch event titled “Arms Control and Emerging Technologies”, which has been organised by the German Federal Foreign Office and the University of Hamburg Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy to open a project on arms control issues funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
The previous meeting of the Baltic and German Ministers of Foreign Affairs in the “3+1” format took place in Palanga, Lithuania, on 11 May 2018. The Foreign Ministers’ meetings in this format have been held for 25 years since 1994.
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