Annual foreign policy debate takes place at Latvian Saeima

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On Thursday, January 26, the annual foreign policy debate took place at the Latvian parliament, during which the Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs summed up the regional and global agenda and the Latvian stance in topical foreign policy matters.

The annual debate usually takes place on January 26, the day of the recognition of the Republic of Latvia de jure.

Russia's war in Ukraine, aid to Ukraine and holding Russia responsible were the main topics of the debate.

"We will continue to support Ukraine. It is currently the first defensive line for Latvia and Europe as a whole. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder to ourselves: if we want to continue to defend a free, fair, and international law-based world order, we must clearly stand for these principles and rights. And for these values, the price is high – in the broadest and most direct sense of these words," said Rinkēvičs.

Rinkēvičs outlined the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Minister's annual report on progress and planned action on national foreign policy and European Union issues. He stressed that Latvia is actively in favor of strengthening sanctions against Russia at the European Union level.

Rinkevics pointed out that much attention should also be paid to the topics of the NATO agenda, including the forthcoming NATO summit in Vilnius this summer and the forthcoming NATO expansion.

"The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO will open up new regional cooperation opportunities and is undoubtedly positive news for the whole region and alliance. At the same time, we see a need to coordinate joint action at the regional level on further Russian international isolation, strengthening sanctions, and advancing Russian crime responsibility issues,” said Rinkēvičs.

Latvia intends to move its position more actively in the European Union. As the head of the Saeima's European Affairs Committee, Andris Sprūds said during the debate, the last year has shown that the European Union has started to react more decisively and effectively in various crises. Latvia's voice has also been heard, and society must continue to play an active role in shaping Europe.

In his words, the European idea will be as strong as it will be in the hearts and minds of people.

"In an era of insecurity, the interaction between the European Union and its leaders and society is gaining new strength and necessity. Leaders have to take responsibility for the rule of law and respect for democratic values," Sprūds said. "It is important to maintain a continuous dialogue between decision-makers and the public."

The Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš also spoke about the active involvement and participation of citizens in modern democratic values. In his words, uniting in the name of common values is the foundation of a strong and sustainable society and also one of the reasons for jointly promoting the country's overall economic development. 

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