Greek Foreign Minister’s visit to Riga highlights mutual desire for greater cooperation between Greece and Latvia

Greek Foreign Minister’s visit to Riga highlights mutual desire for greater cooperation between Greece and Latvia

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had a series of important contacts in Riga, Latvia, during his official visit on Wednesday 6 September 2017.

The Greek FM started his contacts with a meeting with the Deputy Speaker of the Latvian Parliament, Insebi Libina Egger, in which they discussed the strengthening of bilateral co-operation at parliamentary level, and even extended an invitation of the President of the Greek Parliament Nikos Voutsis to his Latvian counterpart, but also to herself, to visit Greece to explore the margins of this cooperation. The invitation was accepted, while Ms Eggerre responded by inviting Mr Voutsis to visit Riga in 2018 on the occasion of the completion of 100 years of the state of Latvia.

Nikos Kotzias then visited Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis. During the meeting of the two men the Latvian Prime Minister expressed his government’s interest in further deepening the bilateral relations of the two countries. Nikos Kotzias and Māris Kučinskis, beyond bilateral cooperation issues, including cultural and educational, also discussed the Cyprus issue and the developments in the Western Balkans region. Finally, the Greek Foreign Minister extended an invitation from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to visit Athens.

Edgars Rinkēvičs welcomed his Greek counterpart at the Latvian Foreign Ministry, where they had a private meeting for about an hour, followed by a working lunch between the Greek and Latvian missions.

The talk of the two homologues focused on the rapid upgrading of bilateral relations. The prospects for close cooperation on both sides are excellent, particularly in the areas of economy, transport, energy and tourism, and the field of culture and education is particularly fruitful.

According to information, they have agreed that a joint consultation program will be launched in the near future to exchange views, both politically and at the service level, on issues of mutual interest, including developments in the Western Balkans, the Middle East, EU-Turkey relations but also the eastern and southern neighborhood of the EU, the future of Europe, the two countries’ cooperation within NATO and the EU on the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the Union, with emphasis on the EU Global Strategy, the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU, and the situation in Ukraine.

Nikos Kotzias reiterated Greece’s position in favour of respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, highlighting the need to implement the Minsk Agreement. Of course, the Greek Foreign Ministry did not omit to mention the need for the EU to deal with similar cases of illegally occupying territories of sovereign states from third countries, making clear reference to Cyprus, which, as an EU Member State, does not receive the same level of interest, for the illegal occupation of its territories.

The Greek Foreign Minister also informed his counterpart, like all his other counterparts, of the developments regarding the name issue, in the light of his recent visit to Skopje, as well as of the Greek-Turkish relations.

He stressed the continued support of Greece on Skopje’s Euro-Atlantic perspective, pointing out the need for Skopje to give up irredentism, to agree on a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue and to meet the prerequisites and prerequisites for their EU membership NATO.

As far as Turkey is concerned, N. Kotzias has extensively referred to Ankara’s provocative behaviour, which daily violates Greek airspace and territorial waters, undermining relations with Greece, which remains committed to international law and respect for good neighbourly relations. “We want a European Turkey, it should want it as well”, N. Kotzias told his Latvian interlocutors.

In addition, both sides, both located at the EU’s external borders, discussed the refugee issue and the need for member-states to respect their respective commitments. In this respect, Mr Kotzias expressed his satisfaction that Latvia has already received a significant number of refugees from Greece.

Following that, N. Kotzias visited NATO’s strategic Communications Center of Excelllence, where he was briefed on the Center’s activities its strategic importance for international security.

After completing his contacts with the Latvian capital, late in the afternoon, the Greek Foreign Minister departed for Tallinn to participate, on 7 και 8 September, at the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in the framework of the Estonian Presidency of the Union.

This is a very important meeting, in which EU Foreign Ministers, in addition to the current issues, will examine developments on the Korean Peninsula following the recent Pyongyang nuclear test, which has caused a storm of reaction.

The talks will also include issues such as the Middle East Peace Process, the working methods of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council./IBNA