As part of a two-day working visit to Ireland, Edgars Rinkēvičs met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, Simon Coveney.
The focus of their discussions was placed on bilateral cooperation between Latvia and Ireland, the issues of the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and Europe’s future, a statement from the Latvian foreign ministry said.
"The Ministers had a broad-ranging discussion on EU issues, including the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasised that it is of key importance for the EU to maintain unity in further negotiations with the UK. It is in Latvia’s interests that, also after Brexit, as close as possible cooperation is ensured with the UK in economy, trade, security and defence. It is clear, however, that the negotiations on the UK leaving the EU should be concluded before the talks can begin on future relationship between the EU and the UK. Edgars Rinkēvičs noted with regret that the needed breakthrough has not yet been achieved on the priority issues of the UK’s withdrawal," said the statement, without quoting either minister directly.
The Minister stressed that it is essential for Latvia to be part of the core EU in talks on Europe’s future and contribute to a discussion on various future initiatives, it added.
Large numbers of Latvians live and work in Ireland, making relations between the two countries particularly significant for Latvia. According to the Irish census figures of 2016, around 20,000 Latvians are usually resident in Ireland, though that number does not include others who are there on a temporary basis. There are also more than 660 people now holding dual Latvian-Irish nationality.
During his visit, the Minister also met with members of the Latvian diaspora organisations and discussed opportunities for future cooperation, and the visit continues November 16 with meetings with members of the European Affairs and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Irish Parliament.