On Wednesday, 11 January, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima met with President Andris Bērziņš to discuss priority tasks of Latvia’s foreign policy and joint actions for fulfilling them.
“January is dedicated to foreign affairs. In preparation for the Saeima’s foreign policy debate scheduled for the end of this month, the Foreign Affairs Committee is drafting a voluminous report. Officials have intensified discussions on foreign affairs that attract more attention of the general public and the media,” noted Ojārs Kalniņš, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“It is important to keep in mind that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not the sole body that is responsible for foreign policy. It should be developed and carried out on the basis of trilateral cooperation among the Saeima, the President and the executive branch,” stressed Kalniņš. According to President Bērziņš, today’s first meeting between the Foreign Affairs Committee and the President might become a tradition in order to strengthen cooperation.
MPs and the President agreed that issues related to the European Union (EU) will play a key role in foreign policy this year. Much work needs to be done in protecting national interests with regard to the next multiannual financial framework and in lobbying for infrastructure projects that are essential for Latvia. Equally important is the action to be taken by the EU to stabilise the economic situation. Furthermore, Latvia is involved in the Eastern Partnership, which is the framework for the EU’s relations with former USSR countries, namely, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Participants of the meeting also discussed possible amendments to the Lisbon Treaty that would establish a Euro Stabilisation Fund. The Committee has already discussed these amendments to the Treaty and will review them again shortly.
The President pointed out that this issue should be dealt with quickly because it is a practical step for strengthening the euro area. Gundars Daudze, Head of the Chancery of the President, added that currently, before Latvia introduces the euro, supporting these amendments imposes no commitments on us, but it can help us to promote our interests with regard to EU funding for direct payments and the Cohesion Policy.
With regard to security priorities in foreign policy, the officials mentioned the NATO summit in Chicago planned for May. It is crucial for Latvia to gain support at the summit for a permanent air policing mission in the Baltic States by NATO forces. MPs and the President also discussed the operation of the Northern Distribution Network used for transporting non-military cargo to Afghanistan through the Riga Port. According to Kalniņš, this is not only an economically beneficial undertaking but also a politically significant cooperation project.
Photos from the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima with President Andris Bērziņš are available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saeima/sets/72157628820772773/with/6677905353/
When using the material, please give credit to the Saeima Chancellery.
Saeima Press Service