[FPN] No. 32, 8 - 12 September 2008

16.09.2008. 14:24

LATVIA TODAY: FOREIGN POLICY NEWS

8 - 12 September 2008

No. 32

HEADLINES

Highlights

President Zatlers meets with the Commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, General Roger A. Brady

President Zatlers meets with the Foreign Minister of Iceland

Baltic state officials meet with NATO Secretary-General

Foreign Ministers of Latvia and Iceland highlight co-operation within regional and international organisations

Foreign Minister takes part in annual meeting of Baltic and Nordic Foreign Ministers  

In brief

President's state visit to Croatia: a summary

Consultations take place between Foreign Ministry Secretaries of Latvia and of Denmark

HIGHLIGHTS

President Zatlers meets with the Commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, General Roger A. Brady

President Valdis Zatlers met at Riga Castle with General Roger A. Brady, the Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. During their meeting, the President and the General discussed the security needs of Latvia and the United States as NATO partners, as well as the issue of continuing military co-operation. They also discussed the most urgent matters in security policy at present, including the patrolling of Baltic air space, Allied peace-keeping missions, and military training.

Both General Brady and President Zatlers agreed that co-operation between the military forces of both countries in the context of NATO international missions has thus far been successful. Latvia regards itself as continuing to be an integral participant in the NATO collective security system, actively participating in international missions to ensure peace and stability in diverse conflict zones such as Afghanistan. Latvia also considers the Alliance as remaining the primary guarantor of security for Latvia and the region, President Zatlers said.  

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President's Chancery, 9 Sept 2008 

President Zatlers meets with the Foreign Minister of Iceland

President Valdis Zatlers met with the Foreign Minister of Iceland Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir. During their meeting the good close bilateral relations of the two countries and current energy security and neighbourhood policy issues were discussed.

During their talks the President of Latvia remarked on the friendly and close bilateral relations of Latvia and Iceland, established in 1991, when Iceland was the first to recognise the independence of Latvia. Both parties agreed that interstate relations between Latvia and Iceland will continue to be successful, especially in the area of economic co-operation, because, as the Foreign Minister of Iceland emphasised, business people of Iceland are interested in future investment in Latvia because they see Latvia as an important basis for developing operations in the region.

During the talks the officials discussed issues of energy independence, emphasising the need to diversify both the sources of energy supply and the suppliers. In future, special attention should be paid to guarantees of stability and peace in the Caucasus and Middle Asia regions which in the future will be an important alternative to the existing energy supply systems, indicated the President.

Both parties were of the same mind in their condemnation of the Russian military aggression in Georgia and emphasising the contravention of international law by what has happened. In addition, as the President remarked, an active involvement by the European Union is necessary at present in assisting Georgia to reconstruct its infrastructure destroyed by the war – the renewal of communication systems, roads and housing, thus building a foundation for stability of the state and its future economic development.

President's Chancery, 9 Sept 2008

Baltic state officials meet with NATO Secretary-General

On 12 September President Valdis Zatlers met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Riga. Their main attention was focused on such topics of security policy, the effect of the Georgian conflict on the security of Europe, NATO international peace-keeping missions and energy security and independence.

"The situation in the world is changing and we, both as an alliance and each country individually, must be ready to face these changes and must be able to react to them, taking a strong stand on both the basic principles of collective security and on our common values", said the President, emphasising that this is ensured by both the joint military training and development of international training centres in the region, and regular patrolling of the Baltic air space. "NATO presence must be visible, so that every member of the population of Latvia may feel safe and sure of his/her future, living in a democratic country", added the President.

During the meeting questions on energy independence were also discussed. Both parties agreed that in future the North Atlantic alliance must be more active in addressing the political dialogue with countries of both the Central Asia and Caucasus regions, thus emphasising their important place and role in the energy market of the future. It is also necessary to provide Georgia with economic assistance in its reconstruction and in future to back it on the reforms road to NATO, emphasised the President.

During their meeting the future of NATO international peace-keeping missions were also discussed, focusing on the ISAF operation in Afghanistan, which is Latvia's priority mission. The officials also discussed the patrolling of the Baltic air space and other current issues of international security policy.

On 12 September, as part of the visit by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to Latvia, a meeting took place with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Maris Riekstins, the Foreign Minister of Estonia, Urmas Paet, and the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, Petras Vaitekunas.

During the meeting, the parties reviewed topical issues regarding NATO operations and the participation in these operations by the Baltic states, in particular in Afghanistan, which is an established priority in Latvia's security policy.

The Baltic Foreign Ministers also debated with the NATO Secretary-General the transformation process of the Alliance, and the national contributions by the Baltic states within the framework of these processes.

The Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins also pointed out that the joint NATO member state training, including the international mine-clearing operation Open Spirit 2008 which took place in Latvia today, is a good way of strengthening co-operation of the Baltic states with the framework of NATO, and this practice should be continued in the future.

During the talks there was an exchange of opinions regarding security issues in relation to the crisis in Georgia and the active involvement of the international community in the settlement of the conflict. The role of NATO was examined, both in the context of practical, as well as political, support. The General-Secretary of NATO informed about his visit to Georgia together with Member State ambassadors scheduled for next week.

The visit to Latvia by the General-Secretary had been planned in advance, and was organised as a part of the international mine-clearing operation Open Spirit 2008. During the visit the NATO General-Secretary also met with President Valdis Zatlers.

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President's Chancery, 12 Sept 2008
MFA, 11 Sept 2008
MFA, 12 Sept 2008

Foreign Ministers of Latvia and Iceland highlight co-operation within regional and international organisations

On 8 September, Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins met with the Foreign Minister of Iceland, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, who had arrived on a working visit to Latvia.

During their meeting the ministers reviewed bilateral topicalities, including issues related to the enhancement of economic relations and the operation of the Financial Instrument of the European Economic Area after 2009, as well as on regional co-operation. Mr Riekstins and Ms Gisladottir commended the advancement of the political dialogue between both countries through the Latvia and Iceland foreign ministry political consultations, and also at meetings of various regional co-operation formats.

In discussion about co-operation within the framework international organizations, Minister Riekstins reiterated to Minister Gisladottir Latvia's support for the candidacy of Iceland for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council. The Foreign Minister of Iceland, in turn, expressed her support for Latvia's candidacy for membership in the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN Human Rights Council.

Both Foreign Ministers exchanged opinions regarding the situation in Georgia and on the involvement of the international community in the renewal process of the Georgian state as well as in the stabilisation of its financial system.

During the talks, Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins emphasised that the meeting with the Foreign Minister of Iceland was of particular significance because Iceland was the first country to recognise Latvia's independence in 1991.

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MFA, 8Sept 2008

Foreign Minister takes part in annual meeting of Baltic and Nordic Foreign Ministers

On 9 – 10 September Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins attended the annual meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Baltic and Nordic states (NB8) in Parnu, Estonia. During the meeting, the current situation in Georgia, relations with Russia, perspectives on Ukraine and Moldova, of Euro-Atlantic integration, the situation of security policy in Afghanistan, co-operation with countries of the Central Asian region, the peace process of the Near East and the European Union strategy for the Baltic Sea Region were all discussed.

At the centre of discussions was the involvement of the international community in settling the Georgia and Russia conflict, especially taking into account the visits of France's President Sarkozy representing the presiding country of the European Union, to Moscow and Tbilisi on 8 September, at which agreement was reached on the decision of the EuroCouncil to send EU observers to Georgia. It is expected that a formal decision on sending a joint EU mission to Georgia, which, according to the agreement, should take effect on 1 October, will be passed at the regular meeting of Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 15 September.

"At present, the offer by member states of the European Union to become involved in the EU mission in Georgia is only taking shape, and Latvia is also considering the possibility of participating, with consultations taking place with the relevant ministries", stated Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins.

The ministers also exchanged views on the agenda of the EU, OSCE and UN concerning the Russian Federation, and were agreed on the need for an international donor's conference on assistance to Georgia.

The Baltic and Nordic Foreign Ministers also discussed co-operation with Ukraine and Moldova, and the importance of their Euro-Atlantic perspectives in the democratic development of these countries. Foreign Minister Riekstins also drew the attention of his colleagues to co-operation with countries of the Central Asian region, reviewing the importance of these countries in the context of energy policy.

During their meeting the ministers also reviewed the security policy situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process.

The issue of an EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and its future course, especially in the context of the coming Swedish presidency of the European Union, was also on the agenda.

The meeting of foreign ministers in Pärnu at the invitation of the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, was attended by the Foreign Minister of Iceland, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, the Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitekunas, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Norway, Jonas Gahr Store, the Foreign Minister of Finland Alexander Stubb, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden, Carl Bildt and the Secretary of State of the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Denmark, Michael Zelmer-Johns.

The next meeting of the Baltic and Nordic Foreign Ministers will take place next year in Iceland, which will also be the co-ordinating country for NB-8 countries in 2009.

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MFA, 10 Sept 2008

IN BRIEF

President's state visit to Croatia: a summary

Diversification and improvement of the economic co-operation of Latvia and Croatia, Latvia's backing of Croatia on its road to the European Union and NATO, and an exchange of views on the consequences of the military conflict in Georgia and the future of the Balkan region were the main topics when President Valdis Zatlers of Latvia met with senior officials of the Republic of Croatia.

The President of Latvia considers the three-day visit in Croatia a success. He also believes that the bilateral meetings of responsible sectors – communications and economy – and the business forums held during the state visit in Zagreb and Opatija will build a foundation for future activisation of co-operation between the business people of the two countries. A good confirmation of already established business contacts was the consecration of the ship Ainazi, built to an order of the Latvian Shipping Company, and which took place during the state visit. A good foundation for future co-operation between the ports of the two countries was the signing of an agreement planned during the state visit between the Free Port of Riga and the Port of Rijeka. The Memorandum of Understanding signed in the presence of the Heads of the two countries between the Latvian Investment and Development Agency and the Agency for Promotion of Trade and Investments of the Republic of Croatia (Croinvest) will in future promote a more constructive and better co-operation between business people of the two countries.

The close and friendly relations between the two countries was confirmed by the meeting of the President of Latvia with senior officials of the Republic of Croatia – President of the Republic of Croatia Stjepan Mesic, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and Speaker of the Parliament of Croatia Luka Bebic. During the talks, common events in the history of the two countries were discussed, the similar vision for improving national co-operation and current issues of international policies. The parties agreed that in view of Russian military aggression in Georgia, Europe must attend more seriously than ever to forming a common energy policy, to diversifying both the lines of energy supplies and of suppliers. During the talks with senior Croatian officials the President of Latvia condemned the Russian aggression, pointing out that in the 21st century the use of military power in resolving problems is not an acceptable action and contravenes both general humanitarian values and international law. 

During the discussions Latvia's backing to date of Croatia on the reform road was welcomed, and further assistance to Croatia was discussed in the carrying out of necessary reforms and harmonising its legislation during the negotiations to access the EU. The President of Latvia affirmed that Latvia is ready to continue the successfully started co-operation, for example, in the area of defence.

The President also congratulated the Croatian side on the Protocol signed earlier on 9 July to join NATO, and expressed his conviction that the Latvian Parliament shall ratify this document in the very near future.

In confirmation of the good co-operation between Latvia and Croatia in the areas of culture and education, the President of Latvia also visited the National Library of the University of Croatia where he opened the Latvian Song and Dance Festival exhibition and met with the management of the library. To introduce Croatians to Latvia and the changes experienced over the past 20 years, the Presidents of Latvia and Croatia opened an exhibition of photography entitled "One day in Latvia" at the Mimara museum in Zagreb.

The state visit to Croatia by President Zatlers took place from 3 - 6 September and was the first state visit to Croatia by a President of Latvia.

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President's Chancery, 7 Sept 2008

Consultations take place between Foreign Ministry Secretaries of Latvia and of Denmark

On 12 September Normans Penke, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended consultations in Copenhagen with his Danish counterpart Ulrik Federspiel.

Issues that were reviewed during these consultations included the situation in Georgia, the EU Neighbourhood Policy, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, and also energy and climate change.

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MFA, 11 Sept 2008

COMING EVENTS

15-17 September 2008 - Official visit to Bulgaria by Speaker of the Saeima, Gundars Daudze.

14-15 September 2008 - Participation by Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in Brussels, Belgium.

LINKS:

http://www.president.lv

http://www.saeima.lv

http://www.mk.gov.lv

http://www.am.gov.lv


The newsletter "Latvia today: foreign policy news" is a compilation of press releases and news reports drawn from the media and official sources. The views published do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.