Gabriel: Baltic states security just as important as Germany's

Take note – story published 7 years ago

German's new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, made his first official visit to Latvia March 1.  

After holding a press conference in Tallinn in the morning, Gabriel made his way south to repeat the process in Riga alongside Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics in the afternoon.

Speaking to reporters, Gabriel gave an impassioned and impressive defense of the European Union, saying it had been one of the twentieth century's greatest ideas and urging member states against turning back the clock or reducing its role in the world.

"Europe should be more than a free trade zone," Gabriel said.

"We cannot turn back... we cannot go in the opposite direction," he said, reminding his audience that the formation of the EU had required decisions that were not always popular or easy but which had proven to be correct. 

Complaints voiced in Poland that he had chosen to visit several smaller countries before them were waved aside, too.

"Europe has the principle that all countries' views are equal," Gabriel said, adding that he had not visited Spain either, and would in fact be in Poland next week in any case.

He also underlined Germany's commitment to the Baltic region, most obvious in its role leading NATO's reinforcement of Lithuania, saying: "It's clear that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's security is just as important as Germany's security."

Rinkevics thanked Germany for its engagement in the region, militarily, politically and economically, singling out its efforts to secure peace in Ukraine via the so-called 'Normandy process' involving France, Russia, Germany and Ukraine.

"I want to say we very much appreciate Germany's and France's role in the Normandy format... it is important that the situation in Eastern Ukraine doesn't deteriorate further," Rinkevics said.  

Gabriel became German foreign minister following his long-serving predecessor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected president of his country.

For an account of Gabriel's talks earlier in the day, we recommend reading the report of our colleagues at ERR News in Estonian HERE.

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