RIGA - In the circumstances of Russia's military threat to Ukraine, Latvia will also support Ukraine with specific military assistance to help them protect themselves, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said today at the Saeima's annual foreign affairs debate.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, is trying to revive imaginary imperialism, which is making the international situation increasingly tense. Karins emphasized that Western countries were cooperating with each other, and that Putin's Russia was creating dissonance with its approach, as it threatened a military attack on its neighbor, Ukraine, which was trying to develop as a democratic society.
The head of the Latvian government emphasized that in this situation Latvia would support Ukraine's democratic efforts, also with the help of military shipments to help them defend themselves.
In his address, Karins pointed to the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, who not only turned against the people of his country, but also tried to push people across the borders of neighboring countries, including Latvia. The Prime Minister emphasized Latvia's quick response, as last year the government decided to close the Belarusian border in less than half an hour and instructed the defense forces to ensure that this procedure was followed.
The politician emphasized that the activities of the State Border Guard, State Police and the National Armed Forces were excellent in guarding the Latvian-Belarusian border.
Karins noted that Latvia, in cooperation with NATO partners, has common defense plans for any situation that may arise. He expressed Latvia's determination to strengthen its defense. The state currently invests 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in defense. According to the Prime Minister, investment should be increased and the next target should be 2.5 percent of GDP.
"We will work on this. We will strengthen our defense capabilities. By strengthening ourselves, we will strengthen NATO. It is a guiding principle throughout the Alliance's defense system - to take care of ourselves and others will be able to help," said the Prime Minister, adding that this was proven in regards to the situation on the Belarus border, which Latvia has been able to safeguard.
Speaking about economic policy, the Prime Minister noted that one of the goals of foreign policy is to attract foreign investment so that there are more and more jobs in Latvia and prosperity increases in the country. He mentioned the "smart re-industrialization" that appears in two planning documents adopted by the Saeima - the National Development Plan and the National Industrial Policy Guidelines.
In his opinion, it is important to have more and more jobs in Latvia in export capable companies, regardless of what they produce. Latvia is looking for just such investments. Karins pointed out that a lot of work has been done to improve the overall investment environment, for example, by straightening out of the supervision of the banking sector. The Prime Minister emphasized that Latvia's homework is to continue to straighten out the local environment so that it is better and better for investment.
The Prime Minister emphasized that despite the changing, challenging external circumstances, Latvia's priorities remain unchanged, and Latvia will continue to work closely with partners in the EU and NATO. This is the right direction that Latvia has taken since the restoration of independence, the head of government noted.
The focus should be on strengthening economic security by attracting investment, and industrialization is already in full swing in Latvia, to which the Foreign Service has also contributed, Karins pointed out.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that the environmental and climate protection goals set by Latvia can be achieved with a reasonable, pragmatic and reasoned approach, gaining public support in this process.
Karins also thanked those in the Latvian diaspora and diaspora organizations for caring for traditions outside Latvia. The Prime Minister emphasized the need to look at the possibilities of re-attracting to Latvia those who live or been born abroad, so that they can return to their homeland or the land of their ancestors.