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The Baltic and Benelux Foreign Ministers: Supporting Ukraine's economy is of critical importance


Meeting today with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs Didier Reynders, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius and Luxembourg's Minster of Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn in Tallinn, Estonian Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus discussed opportunities to strengthen the European Union’s competitiveness, European Security Strategy and Russia’s military aggression in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking about the need for the development of the Digital Single Market, Pentus-Rosimannus noted that it will give European businesses global competitiveness. “We need to focus on initiatives which will provide real economic benefits for both EU citizens and businesses,” the Foreign Minister said, citing the example of the experience of using digital signatures, which saves an employee an estimated average of a week’s worth of work hours. The foreign minister expressed hope, that by 2020 at least 20% of the population of the European Union will be using the digital signature.

The foreign ministers stressed that in light of the changed security situation, there is a need to revise European Neighbourhood Policy. According to Foreign Minister Pentus-Rosimannus, the Riga Summit, occurring during the period of Latvian Presidency, must provide the Eastern European countries with a clear political message of support. “Hopefully, it will be possible to adopt a positive decision regarding visa liberalization during the summit,” Foreign Minister Pentus-Rosimannus stressed.

The Baltic and Benelux foreign ministers agreed that the European Union’s uniform policy towards Russia must continue. “It’s important to maintain strategic determination while continuing the sanctions policy. In addition to sanctions, Ukraine also needs significant economic support and must continue with reforms. Helping Ukraine in the near future is at least as important as putting pressure on the Putin regime with sanctions,” Pentus-Rosimannus said. “In the last few days there has been talk of providing possible military assistance to Ukraine. Estonia is assisting Ukraine through the NATO Cyber Defence Trust Fund, as well as through other cooperation projects, for example, we have provided treatment for victims of the conflict. Providing Ukraine with military assistance is each country’s individual decision. We do not plan to provide weapons assistance. We do not have the kind of surplus of weapons that Ukraine needs today.”

The Baltic and Benelux foreign ministers also discussed the situation in the Middle East, issues related to migration and those related to combating ISIL.


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