German president drops in for talks

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Latvia August 23 for a two day official visit.

Steinmeier has already visited the Baltic states multiple times during his lengthy tenure s German foreign minister, but this is the first time he has dropped in as president.

Following talks with his Latvian counterpart Raimonds Vejonis, the presidential pair stressed the necessity of European Union unity and their commitment to mutual defense.

"Latvia and Germany traditionally share common values ​​and goals. It is in our common interest that we have a safe, prosperous and united Europe," said Vejonis.

"The European Union project must be further developed and improved. Europe must also have a value-based union with freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the future," said Vejonis, noting that the visit of the German President is taking place on a symbolic day - 23 August, historically linked both to the division of Europe and the Baltic Way, as a symbol of European unity.

Vejonis also said Latvia "appreciates Germany's support for strengthening the security of the Baltic region by sending its troops to lead NATO's Battle Group in Lithuania, participating in NATO's air patrolling mission in the Baltic airspace, and sending experts to work in NATO institutions in Riga."

In his speech at a dinner held in the evening, Steinmeier said:

"Today, on 23 August, my visit is also marked by our two countries’ chequered past. In my speech in Tallinn earlier today, I recalled the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, but also the Baltic path to freedom. At the time, the Singing Revolution encouraged countless people in East Germany to also stand up and raise their voices.

As a West German, who was only able to follow this epochal moment on television, I want to tell you today that I admire the Latvians’ desire for freedom. And I am grateful to you for bringing your story of freedom into the European Union.

"Today, we – Latvians and Germans – support the European project in awareness of our history. We support peace, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and inalienable human rights. But we also know that words alone are not enough. Only action taken in a spirit of solidarity and on the firm foundation of our values will lead Europe out of crisis.

Steinmeier arrived from Estonia aboard his official jet liner and departs Thursday afternoon to Lithuania where he will meet German troops. 

 

 

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