The Foreign Ministers of the Baltic and Nordic countries emphasize the importance of regional co-operation in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis
In April 2020 minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia took part in video conference with other foreign ministers of Baltic and Nordic countries (N8) to discuss Covid-19 limiting precaution activities and discussed regional cooperation opportunities to exit the ongoing crisis. During March 2020 and April 2020 Latvia has been actively working with Nordic and Baltic countries’ representatives to ensure the repatriation flights to Latvia. All foreign ministers of N8 have assessed the co-operation of the existing consular services of NB8 countries in organizing repatriation trips, as well as in providing transit opportunities for citizens to the country of residence. However, it was noted that there is a need of more integrated and coherent solutions to ensure for the countries of the region to gradually emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. To ensure the emerge from the ongoing crisis it is important to regularly exchange with up to date information regarding on the reduction of restrictive measures so that the exit from the national and regional countries’ crisis would take place gradually and in a coordinated manner. The current priority for Latvia and N8 countries is to solve the questions regarding economic cooperation for the reduction of Covid-19 crisis. Meaning maintaining open borders for the movement of goods and services, as well as cooperating in the procurement of common medical goods. Recently the Baltic Foreign Ministers have discussed the option to re-open the Baltic boarders and it is foreseen that in the upcoming weeks the Baltic borders could be opened.
The Cabinet of Ministers approves Latvia’s solidarity contribution to the budget of the UN Office for Covid-19
On April 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the order “On Contribution to the Budget of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organization Global Humanitarian Aid Plan for Combating Covid-19” developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Funds for the contribution will be provided from this year’s budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to the order, EUR 100,000 is to be paid for the operation of the United Nations and the World Health Organization’s Global Humanitarian Plan to combat Covid-19. With this input, Latvia shows solidarity with other countries affected by Covid-19, especially those whose capacity to respond to this crisis is limited. Latvia has responded to the United Nations Secretary-General’s call to invest in resolving the global consequences of the Covid-19 crisis and at the same time demonstrates Latvia’s solidarity in joint European Union action to contain the humanitarian crisis. By acting in solidarity and investing in reducing the spread of Covid-19, the far-reaching risk of the pandemic’s impact on Latvia will be reduced.
In response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus worldwide, in March this year the United Nations, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, called on all countries around the world to show solidarity in supporting the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in poor countries and territories affected by various humanitarian crises. The plan specifically provides support to vulnerable groups in addressing health and non-health needs.
Under the leadership of Latvia, the UN agrees on a common approach to financing for development in the Covid-19 crisis
On 27 April 2020, the United Nations Intergovernmental Conclusions and Recommendations on Financing Development were adopted unanimously in New York. The discussion was led by the United Nations representative of Latvia in New York. Latvia is elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council for the period from 2020 to 2022. Under the leadership of Latvian representative, the first online discussion in the history of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations was held since with the outbreak of pandemic transportation services are limited. The outcome of the discussion provided first universal agreement of United Nations member states for joint action to fund Covid-19’s immediate consequences, as well as a long-term recovery.
During the discussion, United Nations member states underlined their commitment to jointly fight the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences, to restore sustainable economic growth, to promote sustainable and inclusive recovery, and to strengthen resilience to similar crises in the future. Additionally, the importance of multilateral cooperation and concerted global action in tackling the crisis was confirmed by the representatives of member countries, emphasizing the role of the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization. In the conclusions the commitment to the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Program on Development Financing was underlined. United Nations member states recognize the many challenges facing the least developed and vulnerable countries in this crisis, including countries with poorly developed health systems and limited fiscal space. Under the leadership of the representatives of Latvia United Nation member countries came to joint agreement to continue to support the poorest countries of the world and to continue to implement United Nation sustainable development goals.
Minister for Foreign Affairs expresses his support for closer European Union cooperation withthe Eastern Partnership countries
On 22 April 2020, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics participated in the informal videoconference of the Council on Foreign Affairs of the European Union on European Union cooperation with Ukraine and the European Union Eastern Partnership countries. The meeting discussed issues related to European Union support for the Eastern Partnership countries to prevent the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic and preparations for the forthcoming Eastern Partnership summit, as well as the progress of reforms in Ukraine and the state of play regarding the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Additionally, minister of Foreign Affairs expressed the support of Latvia the European Union’s solidarity with the Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, to fight against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as well as its consequences. The minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia noted that the European Union must continue to provide strong support to Georgia, particularly as regards the continued “bordering” process of Russian-backed separatists in the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as work on cooperation with Moldova and balanced access to relations with Belarus.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia confirmed Latvia’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Minister positively evaluated Ukraine’s progress in the reform process by adopting the Law on the Privatization of Agricultural Land for the Supreme Court and supporting the draft Law on amendments to improve the mechanisms for regulating banking activities at first reading. The Minister of Latvia stressed that Ukraine must continue the ongoing reform process, particularly in areas such as strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption. The Minister emphasized that the implementation of the Minsk Agreement is essential for the resolution of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and that the European Union’s sanctions policy must be maintained until Russia puts an end to violations of international law and implements the Minsk Agreement. The Foreign Minister also informed his European Union colleagues that Latvia would provide bilateral support to the European Union Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries in resolving urgent issues related to the Covid-19 crisis. Work will also continue previously planned cooperation projects for the Eastern Partnership countries in priority areas.
During April 2020 most of the foreign policy events and activities have been made in context of the outbreak of Coronavirus. In April 2020 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia together with the Foreign Ministers of other Baltic and Nordic countries discussed the need to cooperate on a regional scale to combat the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. During March 2020 and April 2020 Latvia has been actively working with Nordic and Baltic countries’ representatives to ensure the repatriation flights to Latvia. To ensure the safety of Nordic and Baltic countries’ citizens the Foreign Ministers of the countries have assessed co-operation to provide repatriation flights or other transit opportunities. In all, the overall priority for Nordic and Baltic countries is the regional cooperation and the reduction activities of Covid-19 crisis. To overcome the ongoing pandemic crisis the Cabinet of Ministers approved the solidarity of Latvia by contributing to the budget of the United Nations Office for Covid-19 by that expressing unity with other countries who have been deeply affected socially and economically and whose capacity and resources to combat the crisis are limited. Additional development in April 2020 regarding foreign policy was that under the leadership of Latvia, the United Nations came to a common approach to finance the prevention activities of Covid-19. Under the guidance and leadership of the representatives of Latvia the member countries of United Nations came to an agreement for additional support to the poorest countries. During April 2020 Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his support to ensure closer European Union cooperation with the Eastern Partnership Countries. Additionally, from the behalf of Latvia the solidarity with the Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, to fight against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as well as its consequences was expressed.
 N8 consists of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.
*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute