Democracies Must Align Against Authoritarian Challenge: Latvian Foreign Minister

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The Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has used his first official visit to Australia to call for democracies around the world to align against authoritarian regimes.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Aug. 8 with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Rinkēvičs said the current Latvian government believes democracies are being challenged by authoritarian regimes.

“We must analyse, we must work out strategies how to counter propaganda, how to counter disinformation from dictatorships, from authoritarian regions,” he said.

Additionally, in a joint statement, both Wong and Rinkēvičs also said that both countries were “firmly committed to uphold human rights, the rule of law and the rules-based international order,” and agreed to work together to address challenges to the shared values and interests of Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

Beijing a Problem in Both Regions

Underscoring the current difficulties that exist in Europe with Russia, the Latvian foreign minister drew parallels to China, saying it was very important that countries work together to provide a unified front.

“I think that what we see is that there is a kind of rising assertiveness of China not only in this part of the world but globally, also in our part of the region,” Rinkēvičs said.

“And I think it is very important to understand that the Chinese also are very carefully watching what is happening in Europe, and what is happening in Ukraine, and I think the country adjusts its policies and also its stance in this part of the world. So, from that point of view, it is very important that we work together, and we provide the same kind of message of the need to have restraint, not to overreact in their actions and not to create another regional and global hot spot.”

The comment from Rinkēvičs comes as the tensions in the Asia-Pacific reach new highs after Beijing indicated it could try to permanently keep military forces in the Taiwan Strait, the regime made the comments after criticism from Japan, the United States and Australia for holding live-fire military drills in the surrounding area from Aug. 2 to Aug.9.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has panned the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for using military drills—which have encircled Taiwan and pressured the island’s air and sea pathways—as a pretext for wartime preparations.

“China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan,” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Aug. 9.

“It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyberattacks, disinformation, and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan.”

Beijing has also cut military communications with the United States and fired at least 11 ballistic missiles, five of which flew directly over Taiwan and landed in the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Chinese and Taiwanese forces are also engaged in a standoff around the median line of the Taiwanese Strait involving about 10 warships from each side.

CCP officials claim the exercises are a protest against the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) to Taiwan.

However, Washington argues that the CCP is fabricating a regional crisis to mobilise a military response around Taiwan and force change to the status quo.

Victoria Kelly-Clark

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Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.



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