RIGA - Europe needs to strengthen itself in order to support Ukraine, addressing the participants of the European People's Party Congress in Rotterdam on Wednesday Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) emphasized.
He emphasized the need for the Member States of the European Union (EU) to strengthen their defense capabilities and energy independence, as well as to crackdown on misinformation.
Karins mentioned Latvia as an example of strengthening defense capabilities, which already devotes 2.2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to defense and has conceptually decided to increase defense funding to 2.5 percent of GDP in the coming years.
Speaking about energy independence, the Prime Minister emphasized that Europe's dependence on Russian energy resources over several decades poses both geopolitical and climate change risks to Europe.
''We have two ways to reduce our dependence on Russian energy: the easiest way is to diversify our energy sources, and the second, more difficult way, is to produce more energy from renewable sources. We, as a political force, must emphasize that this should be done through both of these routes," said Karins.
Regarding the fight against disinformation, Karins emphasized that Russia is very actively trying to spread its vision around the world. In Africa, for example, Russia is trying to spread the story that the projected food crisis is due to sanctions imposed by the EU, but these are lies because the main reason is Russia's war against Ukraine.
"We have to come with our own explanation and tackle Russia's lies, we need to shut down Russia's disinformation channels," Karins said, explaining that Latvia has closed more than 60 TV channels and more than 100 Internet sites that spread Russian misinformation.
Speaking about the war started by Russia in Ukraine, Karins also emphasized that the only way to restore peace and security in Europe is to make sure Russia loses this war. "It is in our interest for Russia to lose this war, and for Ukraine to win, any other result will mean that Russia will heal its wounds, rebuild its army and it will only be a matter of time before it turns against one of its neighbors again," the prime minister said.
He emphasized that this could be achieved by supporting Ukraine with both military and financial support. Karins also called on the European People's Party to express clear support for granting Ukraine the status of an EU candidate country. It is important for Ukrainians who are currently at war - to see this light at the end of the tunnel.
"Latvia's accession to the EU was a very important milestone in the implementation of reforms, but it took place during peacetime. Now is a time of war, we must not hesitate," Karins explained.
Also, according to Karins, Ukraine must continue to be supported by isolating the Russian economy. The EU is doing so through sanctions, with the adoption of a sixth package of sanctions, essentially against Russian oil imports, to prevent Russia from generating revenue from energy exports to finance its war machine.
"Democracies must not be afraid of strength - we, as democracies, must be strong, because we stand for the three core values we share - freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Ukrainians are giving their lives to the values we all uphold. We must be strong, we must be united in defending these values. We will overcome the evil that is in the world today if we endure, hold together and be a strong political force," Karins emphasized.