Sunday, January 21, 2007

Onwards to Brussels

Later today I'm taking off for Brussels, preparing for the monthly meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council.

GAERC - as is the romantic description of this august body of the 27 foreign ministers of the European Union.

When we sit down in the Justus Lipsus building in Brussels tomorrow it will be to a rather heavy agenda dominated by the Balkans and the Middle East, but certainly dealing also with Somalia and Sudan as well as pre-viewing some of the core issues for the upcoming European summit on energy security and climate change.

From Brussels I'm flying directly tomorrow late afternoon to Riga in Latvia.

I have already been to Tallinn and Vilnius, and had been planning to go to Riga already earlier. It is important to reconnect the network of cooperation in the Nordic and Baltic area, and I certainly look forward to the talks I will have in Riga with the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

Riga is a true metropolis of the Baltic region that is now rapidly regaining its historic role. It's a splendid and truly booming city in a country with a growth record among the most impressive in modern Europe.

After a day in Stockholm on Wednesday I'm off to Paris on Thursday for the big international conference on Lebanon. It will be an impressive gathering also to show support for the position of Prime Minister Siniora, and I'm certain that the discussions in the corridors will be dominated by the broader Middle East issues.

From there I'm continuing to Brussels on Friday where there is a special meeting of the foreign ministers of Nato to discuss primarily the situation in Afghanistan.

We have a keen interest in these discussions since we are among the troop contributors to the ISAF mission there, and I'm looking forward to the lunchean that also includes the EU countries not members of Nato.