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Consular Co-operation of Estonia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Latvia Sets Good Example for European Union in General

11.12.2012

No 444-E

At his meeting in Brussels today with Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, and Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Vytautas Leskevicius, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the consular co-operation among the countries that was initiated during a meeting of the same foreign ministers last year in Pädaste in Estonia has developed and led to actual practical co-operation.

“We are working together on new initiatives that help to expand the consular services and aid available to our citizens,” said Paet. The foreign minister said that the three primary areas for co-operation are crisis co-operation, joint visa centres, and taking biometric information from citizens of other member states.

Foreign Minister Paet also noted that the Baltic and Benelux countries support activities geared towards better helping their citizens on the regional as well as European Union levels. “We believe that the co-operation among Estonia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Latvia and Lithuania could give an impetus for the strengthening of consular co-operation among all European Union member states,” he added.

At the meeting, the foreign ministers emphasised that all European Union representations should include consular aid services among their tasks. “We feel it is essential for a European Union citizen to always have access to aid, even when his or her country does not have an embassy in that particular country,” Paet said. The ministers approved a declaration on consular co-operation at the meeting.

In addition to consular co-operation, the Baltic and Benelux foreign ministers discussed Moldova’s movement in the direction of the European Union. Foreign Minister Paet said that Moldova has been successful in its developments and if it continues at the same pace it will be essential to make more opportunities available to Moldova, as it is a successfully progressing country. “The principle of ‘more for more’ must actually be applied. The European perspective of countries that successfully carry out reforms must be maintained and they should be given the opportunity to achieve a visa waiver,” Paet asserted.

The ministers also addressed European Union topics, including matters related to the European External Action Service and the future of the euro zone. They also spoke about the situations in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

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