On 17 February 2020, the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the meeting of the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, at which Foreign Ministers from the member states discussed relations between the EU and the African Union, the state of affairs in Libya, and EU-India relations. EU Foreign Ministers had a meeting with the Minister of External Affairs of India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to discuss preparations for the upcoming Summit between India and the European Union.
In a discussion on EU-India relations, Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed support for resuming negotiations on a balanced and mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement and an Investment Protection Agreement between the EU and India. Being the second largest country in Asia, India is one of the fastest-growing global economies and the EU’s strategic partner in the region.
We are interested in ensuring new opportunities for trade and business in India, reducing current hurdles to commerce and investment and facilitating market access by removing obstacles to trade, Edgars Rinkēvičs said. Latvia also supports expanding cooperation between the EU and India in the field of climate and digitalisation.
The Ministers then exchanged opinions on the dialogue between the EU and the African Union. Latvia supports the formulation of a new EU strategy for cooperation with African countries. According to Edgars Rinkēvičs, the strategy should be sensitive to regional nuances, address economic development based on business promotion, include climate change issues, target strengthening of the principles of multilateralism and obviate the root causes of migration. Minister Rinkēvičs noted that cooperation with Africa should be pursued on the principles of equal cooperation.
In the part of the meeting that dealt with the situation in Libya, the Latvian Foreign Minister expressed concern over the escalation of the conflict in Libya, including an increased involvement of Turkey. In that context, Latvia supports all efforts by the international community that are in line with the UN-driven process, including progress achieved at the Berlin conference.
It is vital for all parties to the conflict to end violence and return to resolution of the conflict through negotiations. Latvia is generally supportive of the review of the mandate for EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, with the arms embargo and the prevention of oil smuggling as priorities.
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