Latvia and Sweden talk Nord Stream, Baltic issues

Latvia and Sweden talked June 18 about the gulf that separates them - specifically, the Gulf of Riga and the wider Baltic Sea

In the framework of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Margot Wallström, to discuss bilateral cooperation between Latvia and Sweden and the Latvian Presidency of the CBSS, which Latvia is taking over from Sweden on 1 July.

“Latvia and Sweden have close and active economic relations. The recent visits by the Latvian Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy have been valuable in terms of experience sharing and building business contacts,” said Rinkēvičs.

The Minister drew his counterpart’s attention to the fact that Latvia had consistently expressed its concerns over the Nord Stream 2 project, which threatened to increase risks of dependence on one dominant supplier and supply route, as well as jeopardizing the investments planned and already made towards the diversification of supply routes and promotion of competition, which could have significant political repercussions in the future.

Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed his understanding of Sweden’s position that the Nord Stream 2 project did not comply with the principles of the EU Energy Union, and would have a negative influence on gas transit via Ukraine.

“We believe that this issue should be addressed at the European Union level, through adopting amendments to the EU Gas Directive” Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined. 

In the context of the Latvian Presidency of the CBSS, which the country is taking over from Sweden on this 1 July, Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs confirmed that Latvia would build on the CBSS long-term priorities as well as retaining continuity with what has been initiated during the Swedish Presidency.

“In creating the framework and outlook for Latvia’s Presidency, we shall follow up on the debate of the Stockholm meeting about the future role and tasks of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in promoting regional cooperation. Latvia’s priorities for its presidency will be, firstly, societal security and integrity, secondly, the region’s sustainability, spatial development, climate change, and, thirdly, preservation and digitalisation of cultural heritage,” said Rinkēvičs.

The Foreign Ministers also discussed the issues of strategic communications, including the legal framework and present cooperation between the electronic media regulators of Latvia and Sweden to prevent unlawful indoctrination and restrict hate speech on Swedish-registered Russian television channels retransmitted in the Baltic States.

The Foreign Ministers also shared their views on the problems of ecology and pollution in the Baltic Sea basin. “All members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States should agree on practical measures and seek an effective solution so as to reduce the catastrophic pollution of the Baltic Sea. Plastic waste has emerged as one of the most serious threats to the Baltic Sea basin ecosystem over the past decade, and this calls for an urgent solution,” said Rinkēvičs.

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