Foreign Ministry: Latvia's presidency in EU handled well

Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Latvian Foreign Ministry's Parliamentary State Secretary, asserts that Latvia's presidency of the Council of the EU was handled professionally and without serious mistakes. Latvia's presidency lasted for six months and is set to end on June 30. It seems to be the sentiment in Brussels as well.

In an interview to Latvian Radio, Kalniņa-Lukaševica said that overall the presidency was lead professionally and with good results, despite the times being what they are.

"We have faced the Ukranian crisis, the economic situation in Greece, [...] but the necessary steps have been taken," the State Secretary said.

Security questions were a top priority during the presidency. It was decided to review the security strategy, increase the capabilities of fighting hybrid warfare, as well as strengthen the EU in the 'information war' between Russia and the West. 

There were other decisions made, particularly as concerns the Investment Plan for Europe (the Juncker Plan) and cooperation on energy matters.

"The work at EU was precise, and no serious mistakes were made. We can see real results," said Kalniņa-Lukaševica, admitting however that the Latvian public could have been better informed about the benefits of the presidency. 

The smaller but more experienced Luxembourg is the next country to take the presidency. The sentiment in Brussels is that the Latvian presidency has been one of the more successful ones, even though it happened concurrently with many ill-fated events, such as the Greek economic crisis, the refugee crisis and terrorism.

Although the presidency had more trouble dealing with these questions, Latvian diplomats are admired for their ability to move laws that had been shelved for years through the complex EU bureaucracy.

Ina Strazdiņa, the Brussels correspondent at Latvian Radio, noted that the overall sentiment about Latvia's presidency is positive, though the lack of experience could be felt in matters like the reinstatement of the death penalty in Hungary. By not taking a strong position in the matter Latvia showed that it is afraid for its reputation, though experts said it's not really the end of the world.

Latvia was also praised for organizing the Eastern Partnership Summit and particularly for dealing with the Juncker Plan.

Peter Spiegel of the Financial Times summed up the presidency thus: "I think the Latvian presidency was very good and dealt well with the investment plan, the so called Juncker plan. It was passed through the lawmaking process with a speed you rarely see here."

He also added that Latvia finalized the data security matter, which had been suspended for three years and noted that tackling the greatest issues like immigration and Greece isn't part of the presidency's direct responsibilities.

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