On 22 April 2020, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in an informal European Union Foreign Affairs Ministers videoconference on EU cooperation with Ukraine and other countries in the Eastern Partnership. During the gathering, questions were addressed concerning support to be given to Eastern Partnership countries in overcoming the COVID‑19 pandemic; preparations for the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit; the pace of reforms in Ukraine; and the current situation with respect to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Ministers exchanged views on the ongoing and evolving international response to the coronavirus pandemic and the deterioration of security in Libya.
Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed support for the EU’s announcement of solidarity with its eastern neighbours including Ukraine in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus and managing the consequences of the impact of the coronavirus. Implementation of the “Team Europe package" and the "Team Europe" approach adopted in delivering support to EU partners in their fight against COVID-19 and in addressing the challenges resulting from the crisis can be seen as a positive development.
Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs noted that for the Eastern Partnership Summit to be taking place in person in Brussels this June would be a good signal for the EU’s Eastern Partnership. Minister Rinkēvičs emphasised that the EU must continue its firm support for Georgia especially with regard to Russia’s continued backing for separatists and the so-called borderization process in Georgia’s territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and he also underlined the need to exert effort on cooperation with Moldova and on maintaining a balanced approach to relations with Belarus.
Edgars Rinkēvičs again pledged Latvia’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Minister spoke of Ukraine’s achievements in the process of reform including on the legislation approved by the Verkhovna Rada on the buying and selling of farmland and legislation approved in the first reading on amendments to improve mechanisms for banking regulation. Ukraine must continue the process of reform which it has begun, especially in fields such as strengthening of the rule of law and combatting corruption. The Latvian Foreign Minister emphasised that implementation of the Minsk Agreements is key to resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine and that the EU policy on sanctions (restrictive measures) must remain in place during a time when Russia has not been refraining from engagement in violations of international law and while Russia is also not yet bothering to implement the Minsk agreements.
Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs shared information with his EU colleagues on bilateral support for the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia which Latvia is giving in immediate response to problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Work shall be continued on the previously planned cooperation projects with eastern partners in priority areas as well.
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