VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Monday called on the European Union to adhere to policies based on principles and values in the face of challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and Russia's aggressive actions in the region.
"Where we sacrifice principles for pragmatism, we lose," Nauseda said during a debate with his Estonia, Latvian, Polish and Ukrainian counterparts in Warsaw.
"We lose even in the eyes of the opponent, because the opponent sees that values ??are being betrayed and sacrificed to some mercantilist interests," he said.
If it adheres to these principles, the European Union “has a bright future" ahead of it, Nauseda said, adding that the bloc has "a lot of potential for expansion".
"I believe that the day will come when Ukraine becomes a member of the European Union, too," he said. "I am not a supporter of the view that that there is a finite number of EU member countries and the enlargement process should stop once it is reached."
"I believe the EU is a viable organism that will expand as long as it is attractive to those countries that want to join the EU family. It can be a rather big family," he added.
Nauseda noted, however, that Ukraine must go on with reforms to advance toward EU and NATO membership.
Among other things, the Lithuanian president named the United Kingdom's withdrawal as one of the bloc's biggest failures, saying that member states must seek compromises because this is "the only long-term way for the EU to survive as an organization".
Latvian President Egils Levits underscored the need for the West to maintain a strong political position in the world.
"It is not entirely evident that the West is a great political power," he said. "Today the West has to fight for its place in the world. And we, as a pillar of the Western world, of Europe, must strengthen our position for the benefit of our people."
The Latvian president called for progressive strategic investment and involvement in discussions on the future of Europe
The debate was held in Warsaw on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the May 3 Constitution of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.