On 15 May 2020, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in an informal video conference of EU ministers of foreign affairs. The discussion at the gathering centred on the Middle East Peace Process and the international effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood and partners in the wider Middle East.
During the discussion on the peace process, Minister Rinkēvičs noted that the peace plan offered by the U.S. has not gained much traction. One-sided action by Israel, especially if it involves annexation of West Bank territory, would be a violation of international law. The Minister said that the EU must take a strong united position, cooperating with both Israel and Palestine.
The Latvian Foreign Minister observed that the fight against COVID-19 is a challenge for the entire world and just one of the problems, such as migration and terrorism, amongst others, with which the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood must deal. In this respect, to move past the COVID-19 crisis, solidarity plays a key role and Latvia is supporting all initiatives that the EU has commenced to back the Southern Neighbourhood. Minister Rinkēvičs pointed out that more attention needs to be paid to issues of disinformation and to improving the EU’s image, including through highlighting how much the EU has been doing for the region.
It is noteworthy that all three Foreign Ministers of Baltic States took part together in the EU Foreign Ministers video conference, just having on 15 May, the same day, opened the shared internal borders their respective countries - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – for travel of their own citizens and permanent residents. Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs said how delighted he was to able to participate in the EU Foreign Affairs Council together with his colleagues from the two other Baltic States.
During the video conference, all three Baltic State foreign ministers called for greater attention to be given to the EU’s eastern neighbours, including through the holding of an Eastern Partnership Summit as earlier planned.
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