Latvia’s goal during its EU presidency is strong and safe Europe

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 19

By Jamila Jafarova - Trend:

As of January 2015, Latvia holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Latvia's main goal during its presidency is strong and safe Europe, Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, said.

"At the helm of the Council of the European Union, Latvia will see that work actively continues on pending legislation and, in light of unexpected events or changes, we will be ready also to foster new initiatives to make Europe safer and stronger," he said. "Many issues require both immediate and long-term solutions."

"Latvia is proud to begin its first presidency in the EU," he said. The Council Presidency's six month programme has been published and we aim to focus on three priorities: Competitive Europe, Digital Europe and Engaged Europe."

"The terrorist attacks in Paris were a "wake up call" for security agencies across Europe and these attacks gave rise to a new priority for Latvia's Presidency, namely, ensuring the European Union's internal security," Rinkēvičs said.

"We must not let terrorists divide our societies," Rinkēvičs said. "We must work on how best to handle the phenomenon of foreign fighters. We hope to achieve agreement with the European Parliament on the Passenger Name Register directive, and to candidly ask if we have the necessary tools and measures in place for a robust counter-terrorist program."

As for the three original directions of the presidency, the minister said that first, a COMPETITIVE EUROPE.

"Here our aim is to enhance the competitiveness and growth of the European Union," he said. "This means working on the policies related to financing of the economy and strengthening of the Single Market. This means jobs. And it means an Energy Union."

"Next, we want a DIGITAL EUROPE," Rinkēvičs said. "Latvia's goal is to fully exploit the digital potential in the European economy. The EU policies to develop digital potential should steer into three directions - boosting the economy and growth, offering a safe digital environment, promoting modernisation of our public sector and developing our digital skills. In this context, the Digital Agenda Assembly takes place in Riga from 17-18 June."

"And third, we are promoting the concept of an ENGAGED EUROPE as a priority," he said. The objective is reinforcing the role of the European Union in the global arena. Latvia will fully support the High Representative and the European External Action Service in implementing the EU's foreign policy priorities. And we will pay particular attention to enhancing the EU's cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries. So we will host the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit from 21-22 May."

"Looking still further to the East of Europe, I should mention that Latvia wants the EU's attention, presence, and political support directed toward the countries of Central Asia where encouragement stability and prosperity must be undertaken more actively in view of the withdrawal of NATO's forces from Afghanistan and the continuing threats posed by terrorism and trafficking," he said.

"Latvia's EU Presidency will be focussing on three areas with respect to Central Asia, namely security, education and sustainable development (transport and transit, energy, and the environment)," Rinkēvičs said. "Education Ministers of the EU and Central Asia will be meeting in Riga during our Presidency; students from Central Asia have chosen Latvia as a prime location to receive their higher education. As it has been doing now for several years, Latvia will be promoting and hosting discussions on improving and extending existing routes by rail and air with China and Southeast Asia via countries of the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia."

The European Council in the June 2015 will be a key milestone during the Presidency with its strategic discussion on the future level of ambition in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Finally, we will be reminding other members that it is in the EU's interests to strengthen the transatlantic partnership, notably by moving forward on the road to an eventual Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP).

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