On Wednesday, 24 August, Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics met with a delegation of US congressmen that arrived in Latvia with U.S. Congressional Armed Services Committee member Chris Gibson.
During the conversation, Rinkevics emphasized that Latvia highly values the visits regularly carried out by members of the US administration and Congress to the region and especially Latvia, because those visits hold a practical and symbolic meaning. Gibson noted that the main goal of the US Congress delegation’s visit is to demonstrate the support of US Republicans and Democrats to the statements made by US Vice-President Joe Biden about USA’s unchanged stance in regards to NATO principles and commitment to fulfil Article 5, as reported by Latvian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Representatives of the US Congress said they value Latvia’s accomplishments in state defence and international security, including Latvia’s standing commitment to increase expenditures on defence. Congressmen also mentioned the contribution Latvia makes to international security by taking part in joint NATO military exercises. Discussions also touched upon the topic of cooperation between Latvia’s armed forces and US Michigan National Guard. The US delegation also mentioned that Latvia’s membership in OECD affirms the country’s economic maturity
Rinkevics noted that membership in OECD was never a goal in of itself, but rather a tool to help sort out the business environment and assist with economic development. The process of joining this organization was a powerful stimulus to realize reforms in important security areas.
Speaking of the security policy and matters related to state defence, the minister emphasized that Latvia carries out its homework, strengthening state defence capabilities in the process. Latvia’s expenditures on defence will reach 2% of GDP in 2018.
Officials also discussed topical international and regional security matters, including Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, its influence on the security situation and Euro-Atlantic space and the sanction policy in place against Russia. Opinions were also exchanged in regards to enhancement of cooperation with Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries, the Syrian crisis, the migration crisis, EU’s future after Brexit, as well as energy security and diversification matters.
Both sides agreed that it is important to strengthen economic cooperation and make business visits more often in the future. Officials admitted that the signing of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will strengthen not only economic cooperation and investment attraction between Europe and USA, but also have great geopolitical importance.
C.Gibson’s led delegation consisted of Congressman Paul Cook, who works in the Armed Forces, Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Natural Resources; Austin Scott from the Armed Forces and Agriculture Committee; Dan Lipinski, who is a representative of the Transport and Infrastructure Committee and Science, Cosmos and Technology Committee; Rich Nugent from the US Congress Administration Committee; Chris Stewart, who represents the Budget and Intelligence Committee and Dan Benishek from the Natural Resources and Veteran Affairs Committee.