Schulz and Straujuma enjoy jet-set diplomacy

Take note – story published 9 years and 5 months ago

Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and European Parliament President Martin Schulz met in Riga Thursday - despite sewing up agreement on pretty much everything as they flew over the Baltic Sea together a few hours previously.

Straujuma had been in Brussels Wednesday to present Latvia's program for the rotating Preidency of the Council of the European Union to the European Commission.

But with Schulz due to fly to Riga - from Brussels - to receive his own briefing Thursday, he offered a place aboard his plane to Straujuma, who ditched her cabinet at Brussels airport.

"It was very kind of Mr Schulz to allow me join him in his private jet," Straujuma said.

"All the ministers had to stay at the airport but I was back here by midnight."

However, aware of the scandal that would be caused by news that he operated a private jet, Schulz was quick to correct her saying:

Please don't say I have a private jet. It was a charter plane,"

"We ended up flying on the same plane from Brussels – by the time we'd arrived we had actually settled everything," Schulz said.

Looking ahead, Schulz stressed the need for measures to tackle unemployment, to develop Europe's digital infrastructure and to increase energy independence.

In addition, May's Eastern Partnership summit in Riga could have "a global impact," he said.

"We will not complete our initiatives in these areas within six months, these are initiatives that will run into future presidencies," he said.

He also paid tribute to Straujuma and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskiate as examples of "strong women at the helm" which the EU needs more of.

On relations between Russia, Ukraine and the EU, both politicians were in accord.

"Russia is your neigbor. We need to be able to deal with our neighbors. Tensions are running high. I hope that the Russian policy will return to stability, If there is a change of approach I hope we can resume normal relations between the Euroean Union and Russia," Schulz said.

If Russia is willing to engage in talks and return to normal security policy we are willing to talk to the other side but first we need to see that change in approach."

"No EU member state wants a new cold war or permanent sanctions," Straujuma said.

"However we cannot ignore that one country takes a part of another country.... Whether sanctions increase or decrease will depend on events in Ukraine but one thing is clear – the European Union should speak with one voice."

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