RIGA - Small countries, such as Latvia and Luxembourg, must stick together to stand up for international order and resist aggressor countries' attempts to willfully change it, President Egils Levits told journalists after a meeting with Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg on Monday.
During the meeting, Levits and Grand Duke Henri discussed current security issues, European Union (EU) and international policies, as well as opportunities for closer cooperation between Latvia and Luxembourg.
Latvia and Luxembourg both understand that Ukraine must be provided with all the necessary support for reconstruction of the country after the war is over and for Ukraine's integration into the European Union, said Levits. The EU must continue political, economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia.
"Ukraine has to win this war. Russia must know that it will be held accountable by a special tribunal. At the same time, we must invest more in stability of our own democracy and development of our security capabilities, especially at the EU and NATO's external borders with Russia, as well as in the south," the president told reporters.
He also said that he had a high opinion of Latvian-Luxembourgian defense cooperation, praising Luxembourg's contribution to the development of Adazi military base by construction of new barracks.
Due to the common challenges in the current geopolitical situation, cooperation between the Baltic and Benelux countries must be promoted in the future, said Levits, pointing out that there was potential for closer cooperation not only in foreign policy, but also in energy and education.
Levits also emphasized the agreement on automatic mutual recognition of higher education diplomas between the Baltic and Benelux countries. This is the first such agreement in the EU. In his opinion, it could serve as a basis for further regional integration in education and promotion of mobility. Luxembourg ratified the agreement this past February.
Commenting on the expanding economic cooperation between the two countries, Levits said that Luxembourg was one of ten countries with the largest foreign investments in the Latvian economy. It is in the interests of both countries to deepen their cooperation, especially in digital and green technologies.
"I am confident that the visit by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and a Latvia-Luxembourg business seminar on digitization and sustainability planned for tomorrow will lead to even more active connections between businessmen of the two countries," said Levits.
Human contacts are also very important, Levits. The Latvian diaspora in Luxembourg is one of the most active Latvian communities in Europe. A lot of Latvians visit Luxembourg, and Levits called on residents of Luxembourg to visit Lavia more actively.
Luxembourg and Latvia are pro-European countries that contribute greatly to the development and strengthening of the EU and NATO, believes Levits.
On the other hand, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg emphasized that Latvia and Luxembourg enjoyed very good political relations. Grand Duke Henri is accompanied by a large economic delegation made up of representative from approximately 25 Luxembourgian companies, many of which are interested in developing closer cooperation with Latvia in high technology and financial technology.
The current political situation and Russia's war against Ukraine were among the most important issues discussed with Levits today, said Grand Duke Henri. Being near the border with Russia, tensions are much more apparent here than in a Western European country such as Luxembourg, he added.
Grand Duke Henri has a high opinion of the fact that Latvia has taken in approximately 45,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine. He praised Latvia's enormous assistance to Ukraine and said that the EU and NATO should show even greater solidarity with and help Ukraine more to bring an end to the war.
There are about 5,000 Ukrainian refugees in Luxembourg, which is a lot for a small country like Luxembourg. The majority of refugees have integrated into the Luxembourgian society, many are staying at homes of residents of Luxembourg. This integration has been very successful, and the people of Luxembourg can be proud of the fact that they have taken in people not only from Ukraine, but also from Syria, Iraq, and African countries. This is a difficult subject, but it has to be addressed at the European level, said Grand Duke Henri.
As reported, Grand Duke Henri is visiting Latvia today and tomorrow.