Foreign Minister argues for 'Energy Union'

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, speaking at the Energy Security Dialogues in Copenhagen Sunday, argued that developments in Ukraine have sharply revealed the geopolitical factors affecting Europe’s energy needs and hailed the newly-installed European Commission’s (EC) plans to establish a European Energy Union on behalf of all member states.

In his speech at the international conference organized by Denmark’s Foreign Ministry and the German Marshall Fund of the United States Rinkevics pointed out that energy is not only an economic but also a geopolitical issue, the Ministry reported in a press release Monday.

In light of the difficulties coming to an agreement in the trilateral negotiations between the EU, Ukraine and Russia concerning critical gas supplies to Ukraine, Rinkevics said that Latvia would facilitate work on the creation of the Energy Union as a priority initiative during its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The nation’s senior diplomat also stressed the crucial importance of continuing to build and upgrade Europe’s interregional energy supply infrastructures, in particular the grid links between the Baltic states and the rest of the EU.

Rinkevics concluded his statement with a nod to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US, saying it should be used as a means to agree on eventual cooperation in the energy sector, increasing the role of the US as a supplier to Europe and promoting more diversity of supply sources and energy independence.

He also used his time in Copenhagen to bring up the subject of persecution of the Crimean Tartar population with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"We receive very alarming reports about persecution of the Crimean Tatars, their harassment, intimidation, attempts to force them to leave their places of residence, and cases of kidnapping. The UN and other international organisations must pay serious  attention to the plight of the Crimean Tatars, and call on Russia to abide by universally accepted norms of the protection of the rights of minorities," Rinkevics said.

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