English Section

Polish, Latvian presidents discuss security, tensions with Belarus

16.08.2023 15:00
Poland’s president has met with his Latvian counterpart for talks on security issues, including tensions on the border with Belarus, energy policy and cooperation as part of the Three Seas Initiative of European countries between the Black, Baltic and Adriatic Seas, according to officials.
Polands President Andrzej Duda (right) and Latvias Edgars Rinkvis (left) meet in Warsaw on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda (right) and Latvia’s Edgars Rinkēvičs (left) meet in Warsaw on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.PAP/Paweł Supernak

Poland’s Andrzej Duda hosted Latvia’s Edgars Rinkēvičs in Warsaw on Wednesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

At a joint news conference afterwards, the Polish president said the talks had focused on security issues revolving around Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and "the hybrid threat posed by Belarus’ attacks on the Polish and Latvian borders."

Duda said that there was "evidence of hybrid attacks" by Belarus, with Minsk officials “pushing groups of migrants towards the border to force them to cross illegally into Poland.”

The Polish president noted that the frontier with Belarus “isn’t just a Polish border, but the border of the European Union.”

He told reporters: “We are defending not only our border, our country, but also the European community, for which we are responsible.”

The president stated: “Poland’s border is under a hybrid attack by the Belarusian authorities and we are in no doubt whatsoever that this is being carried out in cooperation with Russia.”

Duda said that he and Rinkēvičs had discussed measures being taken by Poland and Latvia to protect their borders with Belarus. 

Other topics included support for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion, the outcome of NATO’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, last month, and bilateral military cooperation, according to officials. 

Another issue under discussion was Polish-Latvian economic cooperation, the Polish president’s office said. 

Duda told reporters: “We are delivering a host of important economic and infrastructural projects between our countries. We discussed the construction of the Rail Baltica train line and the Via Baltica road.”

Duda and Rinkēvičs also talked about energy cooperation, both in the electricity and gas sectors, as well as joint Polish-Latvian projects as part of the Three Seas Initiative.

The Polish president stated: “We discussed the expansion of our cooperation under the Three Seas Initiative. The value of these ties has been put into focus amid Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. It has shown how much we need good roads and good railway connections to be able to transfer the equipment of our armies, for instance.” 

Meanwhile, Latvia’s Rinkēvičs told reporters that he and Duda had discussed regional security, including "the situation on the Belarus border," and "the need to coordinate steps and pool information."

He accused Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of "using migration as a weapon," the PAP news agency reported. 

Rinkēvičs added: "The Wagner Group of mercenaries has also arrived in Belarus. We must prepare for provocations.”

The Latvian president also thanked Poland for supporting his country and "investing in our security” through efforts such as NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission and the presence of Polish troops in Latvia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

Rinkēvičs said it was “symbolic” that he was visiting Poland on one of his first foreign trips since being sworn in last month, and vowed to seek to "expand friendly Polish-Latvian relations" during his presidency, the PAP news agency reported.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Wednesday is day 539 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, prezydent.pl