On 30 November 2021 in Riga, the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Luigi Di Maio, for a discussion on bilateral relations, the migration issue, developments in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, as well as the Eastern Partnership Summit due to be held in Brussels this coming December.
During the meeting, Edgars Rinkēvičs drew attention to the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and 30 years since the restoration of diplomatic ties being marked this year. The Latvian Foreign Minister thanked Italy for its contribution to Latvia’s security – participation in a NATO battlegroup in Latvia and NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, as well as the work at the Stratcom Centre.
The Ministers exchanged opinions on the reform of the European asylum system. Edgars Rinkēvičs noted that Latvia supports the advancement of the Screening Regulation and the Eurodac Regulation, insofar they do not affect discussions on the other elements. We must follow the trends on all the migration routes, Edgars Rinkēvičs, adding that Latvia supports the development and implementation of an Action Plan on the priority countries of the origin and transit of migrants. At the same time, he underlined that efforts to fight migrant smuggling and human trafficking should be sustained, as well as addressing the root causes of migration. We expect proposals from the European Commission concerning adjustments to the European Union’s legal framework in light of the new migration-related challenges, suggesting specific measures and appropriate funding, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined.
During the conversation, Edgars Rinkēvičs reaffirmed that it was essential to approve the fifth round of sanctions against Belarus without further delay, also including the Belavia airlines. The EU’s legal framework must also be revised in order to grant Member State border guards the rights and means they need to ensure the integrity and protection of EU borders in unmistakable cases of instrumentalisation of migration.
The Ministers also shared opinions on the situation in Ukraine. The situation at the border between Ukraine and Russia must be seen in the context of the attacks on EU borders by Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, Edgars Rinkēvičs said; therefore, the EU and NATO must be prepared to respond both in the directions of Belarus and Ukraine. We believe it is important for Ukraine to continue receiving strong support from the EU and NATO, the Latvian Foreign Minister underlined.
According to Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Eastern Partnership Summit must reaffirm the strategic importance of that policy area. The ongoing cooperation with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova must be reinforced, while preserving the Eastern Partnership as a common platform and following the principles of differentiation and conditionality.