EU Presidency launches in shadow of terror

Latvia hosted the official launch of its six-month European Union Presidency Thursday with an agenda already changing almost as soon as the introductory information's ink was dry. 

Events in Paris, where journalists were massacred at their desks, overshadowed even the announcement of a new €1.8bn aid package for Ukraine by European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Morning and afternoon sessions at the National Library were preceded by a minute's silence for the victims of the Paris atrocity.

"Europe today is in mourning after the attacks in Paris yesterday," Juncker told journalists.

"It was an attack against our way of life... for Europe now it is a time for silence not for action... we will be exploring a number of avenues - we won't be going into details at the moment."

However, talks about a how to respond to the atrocity were already underway, he said. Without going into detail he hinted measures were likely to include enhanced "links between national authorities" and seeing "how the Schengen system can be improved and made more efficient."

Speaking alongside Juncker, Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said:

"We won't be able to avoid dealing with matters related to internal security and terrorism [during the Presidency]."

The implementation of the much-vaunted "Juncker plan" to revive the EU economy was also covered but with far less fanfare than would have been expected in recent weeks.

Following Juncker and Straujuma onto stage was another double act comprising EU foreign policy supremo Federica Mogherini and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics who confirmed that tomorrow he departs on what he called a "reconnaisance mission" to Kyiv and then Moscow. 

"I will report back on what I see in Kyiv and Russia," Rinkevics said before the subject inevitably returned to the terrorism threat.

"This is still the time for reflecting but also for deciding on certain matters... we need to communicate with our partners outside Europe to try to prevent terror acts," Rinkevics said.

"We need to find a unified approach in the EU - how we respond to EU citizens joining foreign terror organizations and then returning afterwards."

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