RIGA - The year 2022 brought an irreversible transformation in foreign policy thinking, diplomatic courage and self-confidence, Karlis Bukovskis, director of the Latvian Institute of International Affairs, said at the launch of the Latvian Foreign and Security Policy Yearbook 2023.
Bukovskis said that last year will go down in history as a year when Latvia stood up to its greatest threat and not only demonstrated active support for Ukraine but showed its Western partners, Russia and itself that "we can be proactive".
"Perhaps most importantly, we showed Russia that we are not afraid. In a way, we can say that last year we turned from "Russophobes" into "Russorealists"," Bukovskis said.
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity), who also attended the yearbook's launch event, expressed hope that when the 20th yearbook will be written years from now, the situation will have changed for the better and some of the pessimistic forecasts will have proven wrong.
"In these complicated circumstances, we must do everything to ensure that democracy, human rights and the rule of law prevail, that various imperialistic and postcolonial designs are stopped and defeated and we return to the optimism that dominated in the 1990s after the Cold War," the minister said.
According to Rinkevics, it is essential to learn from experience and prevent fundamental structural errors like underestimating Russia's aggressive potential and attempts to cooperate with this country until the last moment, ignoring clear warnings such as Russia's war with Georgia in 2008 and the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The foreign minister underlined that Latvia's foreign policy means not only protecting the country from external threats but also doing everything to make sure Ukraine wins the war and Russia is weakened. It is also necessary to strengthen the European Union and NATO so that we can learn from past mistakes and participate with our contribution in international reforms. Although the current situation is volatile, it is important not to relax, arm oneself with strategic resilience and carry on.