Rīga meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers will go ahead at end of November

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A planned meeting in Rīga of NATO Foreign Ministers will go ahead at the end of this month despite the fact that Latvia currently has one of the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the world.

"From 30 November to 1 December 2021, Latvia will be hosting a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers for the first time," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed November 3.

Member states decided to hold a NATO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Rīga well in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was originally planned for 2019. Now it has been given the go-ahead and will require a major logistics operation involving the Ministry of Health, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, NMPD (The State Emergency Medical Service), VUGD (The State Fire and Rescue Service), security agencies, the Ministry of Defence, the National Armed Forces and Military Police, the State Police, local government police forces, and Riga City Council,.

"The health and security of the residents of Latvia and foreign guests is a national priority for Latvia as host of this event. The meeting was planned in cooperation with the responsible agencies and in accordance with strict COVID-19 safety measures, and this includes the requirement that only fully vaccinated persons or those who have recovered from COVID-19 may take part," said the MFA in a statement.

"The program and the size of delegations has been adjusted taking into account epidemiological conditions. Delegations are limited to eight persons. The organisation of the gathering is in keeping with specified NATO security standards.

With 30 NATO member states, that means 240 attendees from member state delegations. The venue for the ministerial meetings will be the ATTA Convention Center on Krasta iela. The meetings will be chaired by the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.

The meetings will start on Tuesday 30 November in the afternoon and will end on Wednesday 01 December 2021. The Secretary General is expected to hold press conferences on both days.

Support for holding the event is being given by several hundred officials from various government institutions and a multitude of representatives from the private sector have all participated in planning and implementation of this meeting.

Following the meeting in Riga, the participants will make the short trip across the Baltic Sea to Stockholm to participate in a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).   

With reference to the meeting, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said that review of the NATO Strategic Concept is one of the main tasks in the lead up to the Madrid Summit planned for June 2022.

"I hope that the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Rīga will be a starting point of a high-level consultation phase, providing key elements for elaboration of the new NATO Strategic Concept," Rinkēvičs said.

In 2006 a NATO Summit took place in Rīga, two years after Latvia became a NATO member state.

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