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Minister for European Affairs visits Latvia and Estonia

The Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, T.D., today (Monday 6 September) begins a three-day working visit to Latvia and Estonia, his first visit to these fellow EU Member States since he became Minister in July 2020.   The visit will mark the thirtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the Baltic States following the reestablishment of their independence in 1991.

Speaking at the beginning of the visit, the Minister said:

“I am really pleased to begin my first visit to Latvia and Estonia as Minister for European Affairs and to marking 30 years of diplomatic relations.   I look forward to engaging with my Baltic colleagues across a broad spectrum of important issues, including those on the EU’s agenda such as climate action, recovery from COVID-19 and the digital future.   I will be expressing Ireland’s solidarity with the Baltic states as they face hostile actions from the Lukashenko regime in Belarus.  I also want to express our gratitude for the strong and continuing solidarity shown towards Ireland in the context of Brexit.    I am particularly looking forward to speaking at the Riga Graduate School of Law.  I will use that opportunity to highlight the absolute importance that Ireland attaches to EU Member States respecting the Rule of Law.   

The Minister’s programme includes a wide range of engagements in both Riga and Tallinn. 


The visit begins in Riga, where Minister Byrne will meet with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Mr Edgars Rinkēvičs to discuss a range of topics, including the bilateral relationship and EU and international issues. The Minister will also meet the Latvian Interior Minister, Ms Marija Golubeva, to discuss recent developments in the Baltic region including the hostile actions of the Belarusian Government in facilitating illegal migration into their Baltic neighbours.     Also in Riga on Monday, the Minister will speak at the prestigious Riga Graduate School of Law on the subject of “Our Future in Europe: 30 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Ireland and the Republic of Latvia.”

Among the Minister’s engagements in Riga on Tuesday is a meeting with the Chair of the European Affairs Committee and the Deputy Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Chair of the Group for promoting cooperation with the Oireachtas.   The Minister will also visit Riga’s LGBT House and the Museum of the 1991 Barricades, which commemorates the events leading up to Latvia’s independence from the Soviet Union.


On Wednesday in the Estonian capital Tallinn, Minister Byrne will meet with Märt Volmer, Estonia’s Undersecretary for European Affairs to discuss issues on the EU agenda.   He will visit the Embassy of Ireland to officially open the Embassy’s new Chancery and will also visit the Estonian Parliament for a meeting with its European Union Affairs Committee. The Minister will leave for Dublin on Wednesday at lunchtime.


Press Office

6 Sept 2021


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