The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Canada on Friday released a joint statement affirming shared values and continued cooperation. A meeting was also held with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
The meeting was held in Vilnius, Lithuania and ministers agreed that meetings in the four-partite format would take place every year.
They agreed that the next quadrilateral meeting would be held in 2021 in Canada. In an expression of solidarity with Canada, the foreign ministers condemned the illegal detention of foreign citizens.
Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said: "Despite our geographical distance, Canada is a very close ally and we share the same values - I recognised Canada's crucial role in the security of our region, which is manifested in our shared perception of regional security threats and demonstrated by the presence of a Canadian contingent as one of the leading countries of the eFP in Latvia."
In addition to bolstering transatlantic cooperation and regional security issues, the ministers also discussed international crisis hotspots, including the lack of positive developments in Belarus, the situation in Ukraine, the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and events in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The meeting in Vilnius also included a conversation between the foreign ministers and Tikhanovskaya.
Reinsalu, the foreign minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics, the foreign minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius, the foreign minister of Canada Francois-Philippe Champagne and Tikhanovskaya discussed the need to support Belarusian civil society and the Coordination council. They called for new democratic elections, the cessation of violence against peaceful protestors and the repression of journalists in Belarus.
Reinsalu presented Estonia's proposals, including Estonia's initiative to raise the issue of the human rights in Belarus at the UN Security Council, holding a conference on the future of democracy in Belarus and supporting independent media.
"We reaffirmed our support to the tens of thousands of people of Belarus who have been demonstrating for more than two months now and have joined forces in their demands for new fair elections," he said.
Meeting Belarusian opposition leader @Tsihanouskaya today in #Vilnius with @edgarsrinkevics????????, @LinkeviciusL???????? and @FB_Champagne???????? to reiterate strong support to free and democratic Belarus???????? & show unity by stepping up with sanctions against repressive regime. pic.twitter.com/t8fnDc8Pcf— Urmas Reinsalu (@UrmasReinsalu) October 16, 2020
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne said: "At a time when the world faces a rapidly changing political and security environment, Canada is more than ever committed to supporting transatlantic cooperation, security, and democratic values.
"Against a backdrop of regional security concerns in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Eastern Mediterranean, it is more important than ever for Canada to show leadership in supporting democracy, human rights and the rule of law, while promoting peace and stability for all."
Editor: Helen Wright