Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov completed the European tour with visiting Latvia

Jan 30. MFA

Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov completed the European tour with visiting LatviaThe European tour of Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov, along which the Kazakhstan’s delegation visited Lithuania and Hungary, was completed by official visit to Latvia.

The first since 2000 visit of the Head of Kazakhstan diplomacy to Latvia successfully complemented the concept of the European tour aimed at intensification of relations with the European Union (EU). As it is known, during 2014 Riga carries official name of the Old World’s Capital of Culture, and from beginning of the next year Latvia will initiate its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

An important part of the Kazakhstan’s visit was the speech of Minister Idrissov at the annual meeting of the heads of Latvia’s diplomatic missions abroad and representations to international organizations. A key question of the enlarged conference of the diplomatic corps held in Riga was an upcoming chairmanship in the European Council. The Latvian side invited foreign diplomats to take the floor during the event. Linas Linkevičius, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania addressed to the audience on Lithuania’s chairmanship at the major political EU institute in 2013. Head of the EU diplomacy Catherine Ashton delivered a speech to Latvia’s diplomats. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov’s addressed to the meeting participants, which was determined by Latvia’s priority of strengthening relations with Central Asia in its future chairmanship at the EU.

Delivering his speech the Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister called the Latvian diplomats to consider Kazakhstan a bridge connecting Europe and Asia, and this coincided with official Riga’s aspirations to the full extent, based on important foreign policy priority “Eastern partnership” and strengthening cooperation with the Central Asian region.

During the vigorous Question and Answers session, the Latvian diplomats expressed their interest in Kazakhstan’s priorities in its European foreign policy direction. Among the major issues Minister Idrissov stated signing Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, easing of visa regime for Kazakhstan citizens, as well as further boosting of trade, economy and innovation-technology cooperation.

During his visit to Riga, the Kazakhstan’s diplomat held a range of bilateral meetings, including with President of the Latvian Republic Andris Bērziņš.

A special impetus to dynamics of the Kazakhstan-Latvian relations was provided by the high level negotiations, held during the last year visit of Andris Bērziņš to Astana. Currently the governments of both countries actively work on implementation of the agreements reached during the negotiations. The work is aimed at optimal exploitation of transit capacities of container trains “Baltika Transit” and “Baltika Transit-2”, launching direct air routes between Kazakhstan and Latvia, and cooperation in the area of tourism and processing of agricultural products.

During the meeting with Andris Bērziņš the counterparts touched upon a wide range of issues that are of mutual interest. The ministers specifically emphasized providing an impetus to the economic side of the bilateral relations. Besides, the parties discussed cooperation in such prospective areas as transit-transport, culture, small and medium – sized business development, and cooperation within the EU and the European Council.

During the meeting with Latvia’s Saeima Speaker Solvita Āboltiņa, the parties discussed strengthening of the inter-parliamentary cooperation. They noted a role of groups successfully working in the area of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the two countries. Chairman of Kazakhstan’s Majilis Nurlan Nigmatullin invited the Speaker of Latvia’s Saeima to visit Kazakhstan.

During the visit Erlan Idrissov met with his Latvian colleague Edgars Rinkēvič. The heads of the diplomatic authorities discussed urgent questions of the international agenda, prospective of boosting bilateral relations, as well as cooperation in the multilateral format.

Minister Idrissov underscored a potential of transport and logistics cooperation with Latvia. “Access to the European logistical centers will allow beneficial transit of goods from Kazakhstan, other CIS countries and China through the Latvian ports to the European markets and back,” Idrissov underlined. A good example for such cooperation is belonging to Kazakhstan wheat terminal at the Free Port of Ventspils – the first Kazakhstan’s object in the EU through which Kazakhstan’s wheat is shipped to the world’s markets.

At the end of the visit Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister held a meeting with editors of major Latvian media.