Common preventative measures that help to reduce the consequences of natural disasters can increase stability and security in the region. To this end, Switzerland is making the prevention of natural disasters a focal point of its current Chairmanship of the OSCE. Following on from two preparatory meetings, one of which took place last May in Montreux and various places in Valais, the OSCE is bringing its annual Economic and Environmental Forum on this theme to a close from 10-12 September 2014 in Prague. As Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE, President Burkhalter will hold the opening speech at the event. Other high-ranking guests such as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, and the Swiss climate researcher, Thomas Stocker, will also be present. The Prague forum is the most important event in the OSCE's work for the environment and the economy.
President Burkhalter will also use his time in Prague as an opportunity to hold bilateral talks with representatives of the Czech government. In addition to bilateral themes and aspects of policy on the European Union, the focus of his meeting with Prime Minister Sobotka and Foreign Minister Zaorálek will be on the current situation in Ukraine and measures taken by the OSCE to support the process to find a political solution to the crisis.
These subjects will also take centre stage at the talks being held in Latvia, where President Burkhalter will fly in on Wednesday afternoon. One further reason for this visit to the Baltic state is the EU presidency which will be assumed by Latvia on 1 January 2015. On 11 September 2014, President Burkhalter will have meetings in Riga with Latvian President Andris Bērziņš, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, and Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkēvičs. He will also meet with the speaker of the Latvian Parliament, Solvita Āboltiņa, in the capital.
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