EU foreign policy chief looks ahead to Riga summit

The European Union's High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, paid a visit to Latvia Thursday with attention focussed firmly on the Eastern Partnership Summit due to take place next May 21-22 as part of Latvia's tenure of the rotating EU presidency.

Speaking after talks with Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, Mogherini said: "Europe has changed for the good and maybe security-wise for the bad" [in the ten years since Latvia joined the EU]

"Here we have a lot of expertise, wisdom, knowledge we can build on altogether to face the challenges... starting with relations with Russia. We'll need to discuss seriously and in depth for now and the future ways of facing the crisis in Ukraine in an effective way.

"In particular in preparation for the European Council in June it would be helpful for us to share ideas on how to structure better our defense capabilities, capacities and political engagement."

"The European Union has a lot of tools that are not fully used at the moment, and also at the level of EU NATO cooperation. For me it's going to be a critical key element of my work."

Rinkevics was also keen to stress the importance of the Riga summit, though he also found time to mention the worsening situation in Ukraine where NATO sources suggest thousands of Russian troops are pouring over the border.

"It's a pity the situation in eastern Ukraine is deteriorating and the EU needs to think about further steps to be taken, taking into account recent events," Rinkevics said.

"We talked about the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga and what we expect from it as an outcome... I would like to see that in this summit we would propose a roadmap to countries like Georgia and Moldova in order to promote their way to the European Union."

Mogherini also denied she was pro-Kremlin, saying the public had been "misled" by such reports.

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