EU's chief Brexit negotiator visits Riga to brief Latvian officials on progress in talks
RIGA, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The European Union's (EU) chief negotiator in talks on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, Michel Barnier, arrived in Riga on Thursday to brief Latvian officials on progress achieved in the negotiations so far and hear Latvia's concerns and considerations in the Brexit context, local media informed.
The main message communicated by Barnier was that Brussels is determined to stick to the existing agreements and that the Brexit process is now in the Brits' hands.
Barnier started off his visit to Riga with a meeting with Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks to discuss how the UK's departure from the bloc will affect the security of Europe and Latvia.
"Of course, the potential withdrawal of one of the EU's largest and military strongest member states makes this a legitimate issue. At the same time, we see that Great Britain has strong interest in security and defense cooperation with EU member states. And one of the main pillars of Michel Barnier's program for what happens after this divorce is security and foreign policy, as well as internal security, law enforcement and borders," said Pabriks.
Barnier's agenda in Riga also included meetings with Latvian lawmakers, businesspeople and Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. At a joint news conference with the Latvian premier which followed the talks, both Barnier and Karins underlined that the EU and Latvia want the UK to accept the withdrawal agreement that has been reached with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May but has been repeatedly rejected by British parliament.
"The situation where there is no deal has not been and will never be the European Union's choice. We and I personally have worked hard to make it happen, but if it does not, it will be the UK's choice," Barnier said.
Prime Minister Karins named security, economic cooperation with the UK and the rights of Latvian citizens residing in the UK as Latvia's main concerns in the Brexit context.