President of Latvia Andris Bērziņš met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko today to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as their partnership in the context of the European Union. The President and the foreign minister also discussed the importance of the opening today of the renovated Ukrainian school in Rīga in terms of strengthening relations between Latvia and Ukraine. Mr Gryshchenko delivered an invitation from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to attend a summit meeting of Central European presidents which will be held in Ukraine in May of this year.
President Bērziņš said that the opening of the Ukrainian school today was one of the most important elements in facilitating public understanding and the preservation of national identity – something which helps to develop a modern society in which new language skills and knowledge help people to improve both their competitiveness and their intelligence. The Ukrainian foreign minister thanked the President for attending the opening of the school, adding that Ukraine’s partnership with Latvia has been and will continue to be of importance, particularly in terms of Ukraine’s integration into the EU. President Bērziņš, in turn, insisted that the two countries must make better use of the potential for economic relations – potential which has by no means yet been exhausted. He also said that Latvia continues to support Ukraine’s efforts to integrate into the EU by implementing reforms and observing fundamental democratic values such as the rule of law and human rights. Mr Bērziņš also said that Latvia welcomes the end to five years of negotiations between the EU and Ukraine on an association agreement.
Both parties agreed that energy independence and overall energy policies are and will continue to be a major challenge for both countries. Because Ukraine is an important transit country for Russian natural gas deliveries to Europe, EU member states want to see the development of the Ukrainian energy sector in a sustainable and transparent manner – one which is based on market principles.