On Thursday, 26 January, the Saeima held a plenary sitting devoted to Latvia’s foreign policy and European Union (EU) issues.
Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister for Foreign Affairs, reported on the accomplishments and planned future activities regarding foreign policy and EU issues. After the report by the Minister, 26 MPs took the floor. They included Speaker Solvita Āboltiņa; Deputy Speaker Inga Bite; Ojārs Kalniņš, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee, and representatives of all the parliamentary groups.
The foreign policy debate in the Saeima was attended by President Andris Bērziņš, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, ministers, as well as representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps accredited to Latvia.
The Speaker pointed out that the foreign policy debate in the Saeima is an excellent opportunity to address the close ties between the national and European identities, which could serve as a reference point for further discussions and considerations throughout the coming year.
“I am happy that in preparation for the foreign policy debate, the parliament has held discussions with experts and representatives of NGOs. This is the only way to make the Saeima a forum for shaping opinions and a place where the best ideas for the country’s development are sought,” stressed Āboltiņa.
Ojārs Kalniņš, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, emphasised the important role that the Saeima plays in the foreign affairs and thus facilitates coordinated achievement of the country’s foreign policy goals.
“Along with the Foreign Ministry and the President, members of parliament are also responsible for pursuing foreign policy goals,” said Kalniņš. “When experts mention a coordinated approach in foreign policy, this directly applies to the President, the Saeima and the government. In addition, it is necessary to listen to and cooperate with our foreign policy experts and representatives of NGOs. In shaping foreign policy, MPs also have power, influence and responsibility because they are also diplomats.”
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee, emphasised the Saeima’s role in preparing for the upcoming Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU. “The Saeima is a natural platform for discussing priorities of the Latvian Presidency, and it will have to be active in hosting Presidency’s parliamentary events in close cooperation with its Trio Presidency counterparts and members of the European Parliament,” said Kalniņa-Lukaševica.
Transcripts and audio files of the sitting can be found on the Saeima website (in Latvian): https://www.saeima.lv/lv/streams/steno.
Pursuant to the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima, not later than by 16 January the Minister for Foreign Affairs should submit to the Saeima the annual report, approved by the Prime Minister, on accomplishments and planned future activities in foreign policy. The report should also contain information on activities regarding European Union matters.
In preparation for the Saeima’s foreign policy debate, the Foreign Affairs Committee had invited experts in foreign affairs representing the academia and the non-governmental sector to meet on 18 January for a discussion on the most important topics in this area.
The first debate on the country’s foreign policy in the Saeima took place on 27 January last year.
The foreign policy debate is held at the plenary sitting closest to the date of international recognition of the Republic of Latvia (26 January).
Photos from the foreign policy debate in the Saeima are available at:
When using the material, please give credit to the Saeima Chancellery.
Saeima Press Service