Rinkēvičs strikes back at critics

Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs delivered a withering riposte Tuesday to critics from both extremes of the political spectrum who had criticized his decision to vote with other European Union countries in a United Nations resolution on family values.

In a strongly worded statement, Rinkēvičs expressed surprise that MPs such as Julia Stepanenko from the nominally social democratic party "Harmony" and Imants Paradnieks of the right-wing National Alliance, had questioned his decision to align Latvia with the EU, US, Canada and Australia rather than the sponsors of the conservatively-worded resolution, the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia.

"It turns out that both the National Union and Harmony members are very sympathetic towards Russia and some other authoritarian countries that submitted UN resolutions. Why was Latvia with Europe rather than with Russia?" Rinkevics asked rhetorically before answering his own question.

"Latvia, like other EU Member States has always strongly supported the principle, which is based on the recognition that human rights apply to everyone, regardless of different cultural, religious, political or social systems and traditions. The principle of universality of human rights is also enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is binding on EU Member States. In the draft resolution, this principle had not been fully reflected," Rinkēvičs noted.
 
The authors of the resolution did not take into account various different forms of "the family" including single parents and foster families, Rinkēvičs argued, saying there were implications for the treatment of women's property rights and children's rights and that overall the resolution - which was passed - weakened rather than strengthened universal human rights.

"The Latvian delegation, together with other European Union Member States actively made proposals to improve the text of the resolution," but without success, he added. Consequently a decision was taken to oppose the motion.

Accusations that he had put his own personal preferences first or had acted contrary to the Latvian constitution were "absurd" Rinkēvičs said.

"I would like to reiterate that Latvia is an integral part of the Euro-Atlantic system of security, economy and values...  It seems some people don't like that - sometimes because of naivety, sometimes because of political calculation - so that we might imperceptibly slide back to where we were 25 years ago," he concluded.

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