On 3 and 4 June 2021, Latvia’s Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, was on a working visit to Copenhagen where he took part in the events to mark the centenary of diplomatic relations between the Baltic States and Denmark. Edgars Rinkēvičs met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Jeppe Kofod, and discussed bilateral relations and current developments in international relations.
Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs expressed satisfaction at the good and constructive cooperation between Latvia and Denmark at various levels and fields. The Minister confirmed his intention to continue a regular dialogue between the two countries on bilateral and multilateral issues as well as drawing attention to the excellent long-term cooperation with Denmark in defence and culture.
“This year, on 7 February, we celebrated the 100th anniversary since Denmark recognized Latvia de jure. Denmark never recognised the Soviet occupation of Latvia; it was one of the countries that helped the Baltic States to be heard internationally and offered significant support to Baltic politicians and diplomats in the restoration of Baltic independence,” Edgars Rinkēvičs said. The Minister also congratulate his Danish counterpart on the upcoming Constitution Day celebrated by Denmark on 5 June.
The Latvian Foreign Minister affirmed that recent events related to the targeting of a Ryanair flight by the regime in Belarus also show how Alexander Lukashenko is now not only a big burden for the majority of Belarusian people but has also become a threat for the region as a whole. Cooperation between Belarus and Russia is increasing as well as Belarus’s dependency on Russia, and one should take into account Belarus’s integration with Russia into a single unified state and Russia’s increasingly strong backing and advocacy for Belarus. In spite of how Lukashenko has managed to succeed, albeit with Russia’s help, in choking off the work and activities of Belarusian civil society, the European Union must continue providing support for this civil society.
Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the working lunch of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Baltic States as well as delivering remarks at the conference, Together in the Past, Present and Future – 100 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Denmark and Latvia, Lithuania & Estonia. The event was opened by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.
At the conference, Latvia’s Foreign Minister drew the participants’ attention to the fact that, on August 26, along with Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia will mark 30 years of renewed diplomatic relations with Denmark. Moral support by the Danish society in 1980s and political activity led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at that time, Uffe Elleman-Jensen, already before 1991, as well as all the practical help provided by Danish institutions were essential for Latvia in becoming a democratic and full-fledged state.
The Minister also underlined that HRH Queen Margaret II of Denmark was the first European Monarch to visit Latvia after regaining independence. “The first meeting between eight Nordic-Baltic foreign ministers was held on 20 December 1990 in Copenhagen on the occasion of opening of the very first Baltic States Information Centre in a Nordic country. Today it is a pleasure to look at our intense dialogue and strong partnership in the Baltic Sea region and internationally. We work side by side in the European Union and NATO and other formats to reach our common goals of peace and prosperity for our region and people. I would also like to emphasize three directions of future cooperation: regional security; renewable energy, digitalisation and strengthening of the NB-8 and its various formats,” Edgars Rinkēvičs said.
Denmark’s contribution to Latvia’s security and co-operation in defence has been a key to strengthening regional security. Likewise, Denmark’s role in Multinational Division Headquarters North based in Latvia is an excellent example of our political and military cooperation. The Riga-based NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence has developed world-leading expertise in countering disinformation. Therefore, Denmark’s involvement in the Centre gives an excellent example of how to strengthen joint efforts to improve strategic communications capabilities within the Alliance and Allied nations, Edgars Rinkēvičs asserted.
Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs said he was certain that renewable energy will become the cornerstone of the energy infrastructure, and development of wind energy in the next decade will be of vital importance for the Baltic Sea region.
In concluding his remarks, the Minister emphasised the importance of the NB8 format as a key regional co-operation format that reflects the shared values and challenges of like-minded countries. “We are like-minded partners and share similar views on issues ranging from regional security challenges to wider foreign policy. We welcome the new Nordic-Baltic initiatives regarding climate and gender equality that were introduced last year,” he said.
Toward the end of his visit, Edgars Rinkēvičs visited the Vestre Cemetery where he laid flowers at the monument to Latvian refugees. In the wake of World War II, around 2000 Latvian refugees found shelter in the displaced persons’ camps in Denmark. The monument, installed in 1948, is a reminder of the post-war destinies of Latvian people in Denmark.
On 3 June, the Minister of Foreign Affairs took part in a dinner hosted by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, met with members of the Association Denmark-Latvia Association and presented a Certificates of Commendation to the Chair of the association, Kirsten Gjaldbæk, diplomats and staff of the Latvian Embassy in Denmark, as well as giving interviews to Danish media.
The Association Denmark-Latvia was established in 1992 by a group of Danes with an interest in Latvia. The aim of the association is to strengthen and develop relations and cooperation between Danish and Latvian people. It provided significant support for Latvia in the 1990s. The association currently has 60 members – comprising both Danes and Latvians who together represent Latvia’s diaspora.
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