Latvian Foreign Minister Calls for Clearer and Stronger EU Support for Eastern Partnership Countries

On 20 October in Luxembourg, the EU Foreign Affairs Council gathered for a meeting at which the ministers debated the course of action to contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus, discussed the current developments in Libya, Iraq and the Middle East, and agreed on the establishment of the EU advisory mission in Ukraine. The Latvian delegation at the Foreign Affairs Council was led by the Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

In the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council, the Latvian Foreign Minister convened a meeting of the “Friends of Georgia” with the participation of the Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, Foreign Ministers from the European Union member states, and representatives from the European External Action Service. The participants exchanged opinions on the questions concerning the preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, the reform process in Georgia, and the ratification and implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. Edgars Rinkēvičs encouraged stepping up the support being provided to the Eastern Partnership countries.

The Minister also expressed support for the reforms launched in Georgia and stressed that the EU member states are ready to share their relevant experience. Addressing the issue of the visa-free regime with the EU, Minister Rinkevičs called on Georgia to expedite the implementation of visa facilitation provisions. The Minister drew the attention of participants to reforms in Georgia’s justice sector, highlighting, in particular, the importance of independence of the judiciary, pluralism, and the importance of the principle that people should be presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.

The Foreign Ministers agreed on a collective EU response to the Ebola crisis, which includes increasing of the mutual coordination of humanitarian aid efforts and providing medical evacuation aircraft so that EU health personnel can be guaranteed the opportunity to return to Europe.

The Council approved the Operational Plan of the EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform (EUAM Ukraine) to be launched at the end of 2014. The mission has been established to improve the civil security sector of Ukraine – the police and the National Guard as well as providing assistance with the introduction of sectoral reforms.

Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs underscored the fact that Russia has failed to fulfil the conditions of the understandings reached in Minsk. For example, Russia’s armed groups, fighters and mercenaries have not been withdrawn from Ukraine, and military assistance to the armed separatists has continued. As the result, Ukraine is unable to resume control over its border with Russia. “It will be possible to talk about the alleviation of sanctions only when the situation in the east of Ukraine has improved”, the Latvian Foreign Minister said.

Edgars Rinkēvičs asked third parties not be permitted to interfere with relations under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and pointed out that a speedy ratification of the agreement by all Member States is of the essence. The Minister emphasised that Ukraine should continue working on the reforms that have been initiated and expresed Latvia’s support for the further course of reforms.

During the discussion, Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed serious concern about the increasing human rights violations in Crimea that are being committed against both the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.

The Council also took stock of the current developments in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Gaza.


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