On 24 May 2018 in Riga, the foreign services of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia held their annual consular consultations, this time via videoconferencing. The focus was put on challenges posed by the global COVID-19 crisis and on sharing experience about how the challenges have been addressed.
A special mission of the consular services has been to ensure repatriation of their nationals as well as citizens of other EU Member States. Residents of Latvia have been favouring far away exotic destinations, and sudden changes in the international passenger traffic became a stress test, underlined Guna Japiņa, Director of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Consular services in each of the three Baltic States encountered similar challenges in their repatriation efforts, the most important of them being the provision of urgent information to nationals, the missions of other EU Member States and EU delegations in third countries.
The delegations also discussed the topic vital for all the Baltic States – the practical possibilities for providing consular assistance in third countries where there are no diplomatic missions or consular posts of Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania and where convicted and incarcerated foreign nationals can be subject to significant human rights abuses.
The videoconference also featured sharing of experience on solutions to the continuity of access to consular services in order to ensure that its provision complies with epidemiological security requirements while satisfying the growing demand for those services.
In view of the coming into force, this past 2 July, of the updated Consular Convention between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which envisages cooperation between the Baltic States on the provision of consular assistance in third countries, attention was also devoted to quality standards in the work of consular services.
Consular consultations between the Baltic States are held annually. This year they were organised by Lithuania, offering distance communication opportunities at the Lithuanian Embassies in Riga and Tallinn.
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