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Annual foreign policy debate takes place at Saeima

Thursday, January 28, sees the Saeima holding its annual foreign policy debate, in which Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs will report to deputies on the completed and planned activities in the state foreign policy and European Union (EU) issues. The debate this year will take place remotely on the e-Saeima platform.

Heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited to Latvia traditionally attend, but this time are invited to follow the foreign policy debate live on the parliamentary website (with English translation provided) and Saeima Facebook account.

When discussing the report of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which kicks off the debate, each deputy may speak in the debate for ten minutes for the first time and five minutes for the second time in accordance with the rules of procedure of the Saeima.

In his report, Rinkēvičs acknowledged the extraordinary nature of the last twelve months, saying:

"The global crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has been an endurance test for the Latvian diplomatic and consular service, a test of its abilities and skills. The largest event for the repatriation and homecoming of Latvian nationals in the history of Latvia was arranged – it was meant for Latvia nationals who live in Latvia on a permanent basis and whose stay abroad posed threat to their life, health or security. I would like to illustrate the situation with just a few figures. In the first half of 2020 alone, our Consular Service responded to almost forty four thousand calls, and the intensity even exceeded more than fourteen thousand calls in one day in March. In addition, about ten thousand email messages were received in March and April."

Looking to the future, the minister said he intended to "initiate a discussion on Latvia’s foreign policy scenarios in the Euro-Atlantic area in 2030. In view of the rapidly changing international environment and the need to systematize risks and map out possible courses to take in the social and political environment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in association with experts, foreign policy and security policy research centres and academic circles shall be projecting various alternatives of where international politics are headed for the coming decade and Latvia’s foreign policy directions in response."

The discussion will draw up "optimistic, pessimistic and moderate directions of development, which are not utopian and retain a medium or high level of credibility, while also being discomforting," he promised.

The Rules of Procedure of the Saeima stipulate that the Minister of Foreign Affairs must submit to the Saeima, not later than on 16 January, an annual report agreed with the Prime Minister on the accomplished and intended activities in the state foreign policy. This report should also include information on EU activities.

It is a fairly recent innovation. The first Saeima debate on Latvia's foreign policy issues took place on 27 January 2011. 

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