27-28 August 2020 in Berlin, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs participated in the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (Gymnich). On the agenda for discussion were peace and security in the Middle East, developments in the political processes in Belarus, and an assessment of EU-Russia relations.
An exchange of views took place on the situation in Belarus following the 9 August presidential elections and Ministers shared the view that a speedy response and action from the EU is needed in order to prevent a deterioration of security. EU Foreign Ministers stressed that a solution should be found in a peaceful way and that dialogue should be fostered with the political opposition in Belarus as well as with representatives of the current authorities in power. Drawing up a list of sanctions, otherwise known as "EU restrictive measures", is an important element in action that can be taken by EU Member States against what has been done by employees of certain agencies of the ruling authorities that are responsible for falsification of the election results and the use of violence against civil society.
Minister Rinkēvičs positively appraised the financial support given by EU institutions and Member States to civil society in Belarus and for the strengthening of independent media. The Latvian government has approved EUR 150,000 in assistance to Belarus in various areas - legal, practical, medical, and psychological as well as for reinforcing independent media.
When discussing issues concerning EU-Russia relations, there was general agreement amongst Member States, that mutual dialogue should be continued, based on existing principles such as rule of law and territorial integrity. Edgars Rinkēvičs pointed out that EU unity is the greatest strength and asset in the dialogue with Russia, and while the Minsk agreements are not being implemented, fundamental changes in relations with Russia are not possible.
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