On 29 September 2020, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, took part in an informal meeting of the EU Development Ministers via videoconference. On the initiative of Latvia and several other Member States, the question of the possible ways for the EU to provide assistance to the civil society in Belarus was put on the agenda of the meeting.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined: The EU should continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Belarus, who demand respect for their fundamental democratic rights. It is important that the EU should continue its support of Belarusian civil society using all available means, while giving special attention to ensure that neither the regime nor persons closely connected to it benefit from this support.
In the discussion, the Parliamentary Secretary pointed to the role of Latvia’s non-governmental organisations in support of civil society in Belarus and called for broadening medical help to victims of violence and ensuring educational opportunities outside Belarus.
The meeting also focused on EU cooperation with Africa. An updated EU comprehensive strategy with Africa is currently being produced. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica noted the crucial role of digitalisation in the relations between the EU and Africa to improve the efficiency of the economy and productivity and ensure transition of the economy to climate neutrality. Those are conditions vital for a continued sustainable growth and security in Africa and the EU alike.
The European Commission informed the participants on the state of play in negotiations on the new Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, which is to define the EU’s partnership agenda with a total of 79 countries of those regions for the next 20 year. The need was underlined to continue with EU assistance to address the consequences of COVID-19 in Africa.
The Parliamentary Secretary also noted that geographical balance must be respected in the EU’s support for mitigating the consequences of COVID-19 in its partner countries, and she stressed the need for partners’ immediate ownership and cooperation in dealing with crises.
To achieve a united and coordinated roll-out of the Team Europe package to support African efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to mitigate its consequences, the EU and its Member States, as well as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have pledged the mobilisation of more than 36 billion euros in support of the EU’s partner countries.
Latvia’s contribution in this context is over 770 thousand euros, and it is prioritised to benefit the Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries. The set of support measures includes development cooperation activities, humanitarian assistance and support for the work of multilateral organisations on the ground.
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