Today 16 October, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu was in Vilnius to attend the quadrilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Canada, which included a meeting with the Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The ministers signed a joint statement affirming the shared values and continued cooperation of the Baltic States and Canada, and agreed that meetings in the four-partite format would take place every year.
“Despite our geographical distance, Canada is a very close ally and we share the same values – I recognised Canada’s crucial role in the security of our region, which is manifested in our shared perception of regional security threats and demonstrated by the presence of a Canadian contingent as one of the leading countries of the eFP in Latvia,” Reinsalu said. In addition to bolstering transatlantic cooperation and regional security issues, the ministers also discussed international crisis hotspots, including the lack of positive developments in Belarus, the situation in Ukraine, the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and events in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The meeting in Vilnius also included a conversation between the foreign ministers and the Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, the Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius, the Foreign Minister of Canada François-Philippe Champagne and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discussed the continued negative course of events in Belarus, and agreed there was a need to offer even more support to the democratically minded civil society. Minister Reinsalu presented Estonia’s proposals, including Estonia’s initiative to raise the issue of the human rights in Belarus at the UN Security Council, holding a conference on the future of democracy in Belarus and supporting independent media.
“We reaffirmed our support to the tens of thousands of people of Belarus who have been demonstrating for more than two months now and have joined forces in their demands for new fair elections,” Reinsalu said. “We are supporting the civil society and independent media in Belarus, but we are also pressuring the Belarusian regime through sanctions. The goal is for the Belarusian government to stop repressions against citizens and journalists and for new elections to be held.”
The foreign ministers of the Baltic States and Canada signed a joint statement in Vilnius, assuring the continuation of their close cooperation based on values, commitment to advancing transatlantic relations and, as a new initiative, the introduction of annual quadrilateral meetings. They agreed that the next quadrilateral meeting would be held in 2021 in Canada. In an expression of solidarity with Canada, the foreign ministers condemned the illegal detention of foreign citizens.
Photos by Lithuanian MFA: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mfa_lithuania/
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
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