On 16 May 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was in Latvia on an official visit. The Ministers discussed the bilateral relations between Latvia and Turkey, security policy issues, cooperation in NATO and international organisations, the European Union-Turkey relationship, and topics high on the international agenda.
Referring to the dialogue between the two countries, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined Latvia’s support for the political dialogue with Turkey, which is an important cooperation partner to Latvia, an ally in NATO, and a candidate for EU membership.
Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed the wish to organise the first meeting of the Latvia-Turkey Joint Economic and Trade Commission that could take place in Riga this coming autumn.
The parties then discussed the relationship between the EU and Turkey. The Latvian Foreign Minister voiced support for continued EU accession talks with Turkey, if all accession criteria are met. “Latvia actively supports the continuation of negotiations with Turkey on its joining the European Union, if all criteria are satisfied. We hope that the European Union-Turkey visa liberalisation process will be completed as soon as all the required benchmarks are fulfilled,”
At the same time, the Minister rated positively the EU-Turkey cooperation in the implementation of the migration agreement and Turkey’s contribution to receiving and accommodating refugees. “We highly value Turkey’s contribution of hosting four million Syrian refugees, and thereby reducing the irregular migration flows and undermining human trafficking networks. Cooperation between the EU and Turkey in the field of migration is a good example of dealing with shared challenges. This is proof to the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey yielding results,” said Edgars Rinkēvičs.
In a discussion on the issue of the unification of Cyprus, Minister Rinkēvičs stated that the escalation of the situation was in no-one’s interests. Therefore, Latvia calls on Turkey to actively support the process of Cyprus negotiations seeking to achieve a solution acceptable to all.
The Ministers also discussed cooperation in NATO and on security policy matters. Edgars Rinkēvičs confirmed that Turkey was an important NATO Ally, which responded to the common challenges faced by the Alliance from the south and the east, and Turkey was a significant partner in the fight against international terrorism. The strengthening of NATO deterrence and defence capabilities should be continued through implementing the decisions made at the Brussels summit in order to increase the Alliance’s preparedness. The Minister said he was certain that the priority of the NATO leaders’ meeting in London this coming December would be the enhancement of the Allied unity and the transatlantic link.
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