Champagne will also be in Latvia March 3 to meet President Egils Levits and visit Canadian troops at the Ādaži military base near Rīga, but on Monday his itinerary included a joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs.
Very warm welcome et bienvenue to friend and ally Canadian Foreign Minister @FP_Champagne in Riga, many thanks for Canadian leadership of #NATO Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia, we are likeminded nations on many issues 🇱🇻 🤝 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/15FtOsTOGX— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) March 2, 2020
During the press conference, Champagne was asked by Latvian Radio if Canada intended to extend its participation in and leadership of the NATO battlegroup in Latvia beyond the current end date of 2023.
In response, Champagne said it was too early to make such a decision.
"We are very proud to be here in the advanced forward presence. This is the largest contingent of Canadian troops outside of Canada. We have committed the presence to 2023 and as you know these decisions are usually take in review closer to the date. I think the past is a good indication of the future. We are committed here. We are sharing the same prospect... security brings stability and stability brings prosperity," Champagne said, stressing that Latvian-Canadian relations could develop in the areas of trade and information technology as well as mlitarily.
He also noted "with pride" that Latvia was the first country to ratify athe CETA EU-Canada trade agreement and announced:
"We're going to be appointing a senior trade commissioner, I'm pleased to announce here, for the Baltics region to make sure that we have more connectivity between our businesses with the purpose of offering better opportunities for young Latvians and those who would like to trade with one of the largest platforms. I have to remind you that Canada is the only G7 country with a free trade agreement with all G7 countries."
Edgars Rinkēvičs thanked Canada for contribution to the security of Latvia and the region by leading the NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle group in Latvia. It is a strong example of solidarity, which demonstrates NATO collective defence and commitment to protecting every member of the Alliance, the Latvian Foreign Minister said