On Monday 15 February, during a meeting with Andris Piebalgs, the EU Commissioner for Development, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the European Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Latvia (Saeima) expressed their confidence that the EU Commissioner nominated by Latvia will make a positive contribution in shaping EU’s common foreign policy. At the same time, members of the Saeima expressed their hope that Piebalgs’s activities in his new position will promote understanding about the importance of development policy also in Latvia.Andris Bērziņš, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, stated: “Andris Piebalgs, in close cooperation with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will be in charge of shaping the European Union’s common foreign policy. We are truly gratified that a representative from Latvia holds such an important office. Moreover, the development cooperation that falls within Piebalgs’s sphere of competence is one of the most essential instruments of the European Union’s foreign policy.” “The European Union is the largest donor of development aid in the world. In 2008, it allocated EUR 48 billion to developing countries – that is 60 per cent of all global aid”, reported Piebalgs. He emphasised the moral aspect of providing such assistance by pointing out that Latvia cannot remain uninvolved in solving problems that the world is facing.“If we see that people in Africa and elsewhere in the world are dying of hunger, can we pass by them unconcerned?” asked the EU Commissioner for Development. He pointed out that the enormous poverty that exists in developing countries subsequently directly affects also the European Union in the form of illegal immigration and terrorism. Piebalgs also reported that another sphere of his activities will involve representing the European Commission in the European Council on Foreign Relations, including fields that go beyond the EU’s development policy. However, with regard to these issues, he will have to work in close cooperation with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who, in accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon, represents the European Union on all issues concerning external relations. While describing the process of establishing the European External Action Service, Piebalgs acknowledged that the unity of the EU’s foreign policy will depend on successful creation and functioning of this Service. “If we succeed in establishing the Service in the right manner, the European Union will be stronger both internally and externally”, said the Commissioner. Piebalgs pointed out that the necessary geographical balance has to be observed while recruiting employees for the External Action Service from among the current officials of the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, as well as from among diplomats of the member states. Press conference photos: www.flickr.com/saeima.
Press conference video: www.youtube.com/SaeimaSAB.
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