Andrews to Raise Concerns on Chechnya in Moscow
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D., will meet with the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Igor Ivanov, on Friday 14 January 2000 for talks on the Chechen crisis. The Minister will visit Moscow in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and will reiterate the international community's strong concerns about the disproportionate use of force in Chechnya and the humanitarian crisis there. He will also carry with him an offer of assistance from the Council of Europe to restore democratic structures in the region once the conflict is over.
Prior to his visit to Moscow, the Minister will officially open the new Embassy of Ireland in Berlin on Tuesday 11 January and will visit Riga at the invitation of his Latvian counterpart, Mr. Indulis Berzins, on Wednesday 12 January.
In Berlin, Minister Andrews will meet a cross-section of local representatives of the Irish and business communities as well as figures from cultural and parliamentary life there. Germany is now Ireland's third most important trading partner after Britain and the USA and the new Embassy incorporates the regional Enterprise Ireland office. During the visit the Minister will be stressing the importance which the Government accords to the development of the strongest possible economic relations between both countries in the key areas of trade, investment, financial services and tourism.
In Riga the Minister will have talks with Foreign Minister Berzins on Latvia's preparations for accession to the European Union following the decision at the European Summit in Helsinki last month to open negotiations in February 2000 with Latvia and five other states. During his visit Mr. Andrews will pay a call on the President of the Republic of Latvia, Mrs. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, and will have meetings with the Prime Minister, Mr. Andris Skele, and the Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Janis Straume.