French President Emmanuel Macron concludes his visit to Latvia

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French President Emmanuel Macron continued his two-day visit to Latvia September 30 with a busy day scheduled.

First on the running order was a press conference with Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, which can be viewed below. The pair had been due to discuss "topical issues of the European Union and external relations."

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Speaking in French initially, Kariņš talked up the opportunities for "many synergies" between French and Latvian businesses in the hi-tech sector before repeatedly stressing his over-riding theme: that the European Union needs to pool its resources in many more areas than at present in order to meet international challenges. 

"We both see the need to strengthen the European Union in the future ... in strengthening the European Union we are strengthening ourselves and our own independence," Kariņš insisted.

For his part, after praising the joint declaration of France, Latvia and Lithuania on protecting democracies, Macron was asked about his desire to renew dialogue with Russia.

He promised a "completely transparent" form of dialogue carried out in good faith so that if it proved fruitless it would be "on the shoulders" of the Russian side.

"We cannot get to a position where we simply don't talk to each other," Macron insisted, adding that piling one set of sanctions on top of another was not productive.

Acknowledging the well-founded concerns of the Baltic states when it comes to Russia, Macron promised "this dialogue will not be something that will compromise your security."

In his response to the same question, Kariņš returned to the theme of the potential collective strength of European Union members and their individual vulnerability to the challenges posed by Russia and China, which like to isolate countries.

The European Union collectively is "far stronger" than Russia economically and even militarily, Kariņš said, even though Russia might outweigh individual countries. 

"We must take the next step... we are both talking about the need to strengthen Europe... so individual countries do not have to face these global challenges alone," Kariņš said.

Following the press conference was a flower-laying ceremony at the Freedom Monument, which can be viewed below.

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After that Macron went to the Latvian National Library to participate in a discussion on democracy in the digital age alongside Latvian President Egils Levits, which can be watched below.

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With the visit complete, it was back aboard the presidential plane for M. et Mme. Macron as they departed Latvia.


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