Interview wih Imants Lieģis, ambassador of Latvia to Hungary about the priorities of Latvia during the presidency in the Council of EU (DAN)

31.12.2014. 14:22

Latvia takes over the Presidency of the EU Council on 1st January 2015.

What will this mean for Montenegro?

Although geographically far from Montenegro, Latvia is very aware of Montenegro’s aspirations to enjoy the benefits of joining the EU club. We know that the Government  has taken seriously the October assessment given by the Commission about progress. Important legislative changes affecting the rule of law were passed by Parliament in December. This was rewarded with the opening of four more negotiating chapters at the ICG on 16th December, a very encouraging sign in the closing days of Italy’s Presidency. It shows that the speed of negotiations is directly affected by Montenegro’s actions.

With this in mind, Latvia will be able to push ahead with the Enlargement agenda during our six month Presidency if further tangible results will be produced by Montenegro in issues relating to the rule of law.

It will mean implementation of the laws passed and also pursuing the action plans prepared by Montenegro itself.

My impression is that Podgorica takes a realistic and pragmatic approach to the path ahead. Both Montenegro and the EU have to be ready before the next enlargement takes place and there is a mutually tacit understanding that this will not happen during the term of the present Commission.

Latvia’s Presidency will have to continue to deal with the urgent challenges resulting in Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and the ongoing war taking place in Eastern Ukraine. The closing December meetings of EU leaders, in harmony with the USA, extended sanctions against Russia. Montenegro has taken mature and bold steps in aligning its foreign policy with that of the EU, especially concerning Russia. This is highly valued by Latvia and all other member states, because it shows that Montenegro’s values are the same as those of other European democracies. Given that Russia is conducting an extensive propaganda and information war to support its aggression, there will be further challenges ahead concerning relations with Russia. In the Spring, crucial decisions will need to be made by the EU about sanctions. Latvia’s capital Rīga will host the next EU Eastern Partnership Summit in May. These are some of the known challenges that our Presidency will face, and which will be met in close cooperation with our EU partners, and no doubt followed by candidate countries.

Progress on issues of concern to the EU will also have implications for NATO’s decision about whether to invite Montenegro at the 2015 Summit in Poland. Montenegro’s actions in the next six months will influence Euroatlantic integration for the next few years.

  • 23+24; 2 IGCs; more review of implementation of road maps; praise for alignment with EU Foreign Policy
  • particular, the recent adoption of several important measures in the area of prevention of corruption
  • Foreign policy alignement-  notably on issues where major common interests are at stake, such as on Russia and Ukraine

Published in DAN online on 31.12.2014.