Latvia and France have close relations, and a strong and united Europe is important for both countries. Latvia supports France’s efforts towards a better integrated European Union (EU), and it is important that we protect European values together, emphasised members of the Saeima on Wednesday, 30 September, in a meeting with the delegation of the Parliament of France.
Dagmāra Beitnere-Le Galla, Deputy Speaker of the Saeima and Chair of the Group for promoting cooperation with the Parliament of France; Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, Deputy Speaker of the Saeima; Marija Golubeva, Deputy Secretary of the Saeima; Jānis Vucāns, Head of the Latvian delegation to the Baltic Assembly; Gatis Eglītis, Deputy Chair of the European Affairs Committee, and Vitālijs Orlovs, Deputy Chair of the Mandate, Ethics, and Submissions Committee, met with the delegation of the National Assembly of France.
Latvian and French MPs agreed that democratic values are the foundation of Europe and that it is necessary to continue defending them in the future, highlighting the situation in Belarus as a cause for concern in this respect. MPs shared the view that countries should provide the people of Belarus with the necessary support in their fight for civil rights and democracy.
At the same time, Members of the Saeima underlined that EU Member States and entrepreneurs in the Member States should be particularly diligent in assessing the need to participate in any public procurements organised by the Belarusian authorities, as goods procured by Belarus might be used for internal repressions against the Belarusian people. Members of the National Assembly of France noted that having a common position in this issue attests to the increased sovereignty and political power of the EU and that maintaining a strategic dialogue with Russia will be unavoidable in resolving the situation.
It is our duty to protect European values, including in the Council of Europe. Members of the Saeima reminded that, following the restoration of the voting rights of the Russian delegation to PACE, the Baltic+ Group representing like-minded countries was established to ensure the protection of the values, principles and integrity of the Council of Europe. Latvian MPs welcomed the fact that, during the French presidency, the Baltic+ Group had a constructive discussion about these controversial topics with Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs of France.
Moreover, French MPs commended Latvia’s experience in election security and expressed interest in learning about the procedures introduced in Latvia to safeguard the election process against foreign intervention. Members of the National Assembly of France stressed that additional measures to ensure election security are important on an EU level. Latvian MPs referred to the NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence in Riga to demonstrate Latvia’s high competence in combating disinformation.
Members of the Saeima also highlighted the e-Saeima platform, which was created by local developers and helped the Latvian parliament become one of the first parliaments in the world to fully shift to remote work during the COVID-19 crisis. The security solutions of the e-Saeima conform with the highest security standards, allowing the Saeima to continue working fully during an emergency situation, explained the Members of the Saeima.
Furthermore, Latvia highly appreciates the contribution of France to the strengthening of security in the Baltic region, including in the form of air policing. French MPs emphasised that cooperation should only become closer in the future and that France will maintain its current position regarding security and defence matters. EU border protection was also discussed in the meeting, and the French delegation called on the EU Member States to show solidarity in this issue.
In addition, MPs discussed opportunities for attracting investments and strengthening cooperation in science, highlighting in particular the French initiative towards a greener Europe. Parliamentarians commended the vision of president of France Emmanuel Macron regarding the formation of different alliances to help strengthen the integrity of Europe in the medium term. In this context, MPs discussed how the competitiveness of the European education space could be improved. Latvian MPs mentioned the automatic mutual recognition of diplomas and scientific degrees in the Baltic states as a significant achievement, noting that there are ongoing talks about extending the existing agreement to include the Benelux countries; perhaps France might also follow in the future.
Members of the Saeima met with Members of the National Assembly of France Philippe Chassaing, Chair of the France-Latvia Friendship Group; Vincent Rolland, Chair of the France-Lithuania Friendship Group; Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade, Vice-chair of the European Affairs Committee; MP Alexandre Holroyd, as well as Stéphane Séjourné, Member of the European Parliament, who were on an official visit to Latvia with the president of the Republic of France Emmanuel Macron.
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Saeima Press Service