Europe needs leaders from the East - Rinkevics

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Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said Tuesday Europe needs to find leaders from Central and Eastern Europe as the process of selecting a new European Commission gets underway.

Speaking after talks in Riga with German Minister of state for Europe Michael Roth, Rinkevics said: “Ten years after joining the European Union, it's unthinkable that there wouldn't be people from Central and Eastern Europe in senior positions in Europe.”

Roth agreed, adding that a Commission without women in senior roles would be equally unthinkable.

The two ministers also discussed plans for next year's Riga summit and Latvia's six-month stint hosting the EU presidency of the Council of the European Union, which starts January 1 and involves hosting and chairing various high-level meetings of which the Riga Summit towards the middle of the year will be the most prominent.

Priorities will include economic growth, job creation and the creation of an EU digital marketplace, Rinkevics said, while Roth placed emphasis on  the EU's Stability and Growth Pact, saying it needed to be "flexible and reform oriented".

Rinkevics and Roth also agreed their two countries will work together on developing relations with the six countries included in the EU's Eastern Partnership programme, though Roth made a point of adding that relations with “Southern countries” should be equally important.

However, on one question the usually unflappable Rinkevics struggled. Asked which team he would support in Tuesday night's crucial World Cup semi-final match between Germany and Brazil, he said he hoped “the best team would win”.

In contrast Roth predicted a 3-2 Germany win.

“Germany will be playing in the name of Europe!” he joked.

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