On 31 January, Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis took part in the current meetings of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council in Brussels.
The Foreign Affairs Council adopted conclusions on the EU's further action in relations with Belarus following the clashes between the opposition and the authorities on the presidential election day in Belarus.
During the discussion, Foreign Minister Kristovskis emphasised that Latvia deplores the violent aftermath of the election and calls for ending repressions against the opposition. Latvia supports the joint stand by the EU concerning visa restrictions. Latvia urges to support civil society, the media, students and independent education opportunities in Belarus. The Minister emphasised that economic sanctions have yielded no results so far and therefore Latvia supports an agreement to desist, for the time being, from applying such sanctions The EU External Relations Council resolved that the EU would regularly re-examine the situation in Belarus and would stand ready to consider further targeted measures in all areas of cooperation. This decision fully corresponds to Latvia's position.
Minister Kristovskis briefed his colleagues on Latvia's decision of 22 January to alleviate visa procedures for citizens of Belarus with the aim of strengthening civil society and democratic institutions. The decision waives visa processing fees for the applicants requesting long-term visas.
During the ministers' discussion on Egypt, Minister Kristovskis underlined that Egyptian authorities, whilst introducing changes in the country, must ensure human rights and the rule of law in order to prepare for free and democratic elections.
Over a working dinner, the foreign ministers reviewed the results of talks with Iran conducted on 21 and 22 January in Istanbul, and also continued a discussion on the EU's strategic partners, including Russia.