Foreign Policy 2016 04 28
Foreign Ministers of Nordic, Baltic and Visegrad Group countries discuss security challenges and priority items on EU agenda
Photo: Latvia’s Foreign Ministry
On 21-22 April, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius participated in a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Nordic, Baltic and Visegrad Group countries in Jūrmala, Latvia. Foreign Ministers of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary discussed the region’s security situation, energy security, migration, the EU’s policy towards its eastern neighbours and other issues.
Linkevičius noted that the meeting in Jūrmala offered a good opportunity for the region’s countries to discuss common challenges and to adjust actions to further strengthen regional cooperation.
In the meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed the cooperation among the Nordic, Baltic and Visegrad Group countries in response to ever-more frequent cyber-attacks, propaganda and other threats.
“The security situation in the region is negatively affected by Russia’s aggressive policies and actions, raises our concerns and is a common challenge facing all countries in the region. Therefore, only by acting together can we achieve concrete results. Coordinating actions with regional partners is especially important ahead of the NATO Summit in July,” said Linkevičius.
As regards energy issues, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister stressed that nuclear power projects, which were being developed in the EU’s neighbourhood, must comply with international nuclear safety standards.
The participants also discussed ways to further strengthen energy security through diversification of energy supply routes, the construction of the missing infrastructure links, the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
“The new EU-backed energy infrastructure projects should promote the diversification of energy supply routes and strengthen energy security in all the EU member states, which cannot be said about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that is currently being discussed,” said the head of the Lithuanian diplomacy.
In the meeting, Linkevičius stressed the need to avoid reducing the EU ambition with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries and to help move reforms forward in the countries.
“We have to remain consistent in defending the right of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and other Eastern Partnership countries to create their own independent future, and we call for the provision of all possible support, including visa-free travel for Georgia and Ukraine, and the application of free trade for the countries that have signed the Association Agreements with the EU,” said Linkevičius.
This is already the fourth meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Nordic, Baltic and Visegrad Group countries. The first meeting was held in Gdansk, Poland, in 2013. This year’s meeting was organized by Latvia, which is coordinating the Nordic-Baltic cooperation (NB8) in 2016.