Ukraine must become a NATO member after the war to prevent another ideological "Russian world" war - Levits

  • 2023-06-28
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - In order to prevent another ideological "Russian world" war, Ukraine should become a NATO member state after the war, President of Latvia Egils Levits stressed on Tuesday during a meeting with society representatives.

He noted that at last year's NATO Summit in Madrid, Latvia was the only Baltic country to reach a formal agreement with Canada to deploy a brigade in the country. Now, after a year of stiff-arming, Germany has announced that Lithuania will have a brigade.

In Levits' view, this represents a certain change in thinking. Previously, Germany did not consider the situation dangerous, but the military mutiny showed that the situation has changed and that the previous illusions and expectations that Putin will act predictably have been quashed.

In his address, the President also touched upon the issue of Latvianness. Levits pointed out that his credo has always been that Latvia should be Latvian. He stressed that the Latvian state was founded to ensure the existence of the Latvian nation, language and culture throughout the centuries. The first paragraph of the Constitution enshrines the principle of sustainability, which is why the basis of integration is Latvianness, which is formed by the national language, an understanding of history and Europeanness.

Levits noted that the world's attention is currently focused on decolonization, and it is also time for Latvia to look at its history. Although Latvia is no longer colonized, the mentality is still tainted by the colonial era, such as discrimination against Latvians in the labor market. The President stressed that this is unacceptable and must end once and for all.

He pointed out that 30 years after the end of the occupation, parents still choose Russian as a second language for their children to learn at school. The President stressed that "we are long out of the Russian space". He welcomed the fact that in the coming years the second foreign language to be taught in schools will be an EU language.

Levits also praised the proposal to conduct election campaigns only in the national language. It cannot be the case that in a political space where common affairs of state are discussed, this is done in Latvian and Russian. This segregates political spaces and should not be allowed.

The President of Latvia stressed that history is a central part of national identity. Without an understanding of history, there cannot be a strong national identity. Levits stressed that history is not permanent, each era forms its own view back on history.

"In a democratic, free Latvia, we have the right and the duty to create a history that is consistent with democratic values. We must not see ourselves as paupers and victims. We have a Day of National Resistance on March 17. We should highlight the fact that we resisted," Levits said, adding that until the mid-1950s Latvia was able to keep up a unique armed resistance.

Speaking about the quality of democracy, the President noted that until relatively recently political parties were dependent on oligarchs and the rich. Today, it is normal that political parties are financed from the state budget. Defunct parties do not receive funding.

It is also a success that part of the funding allocated to parties has to be used for capacity building, not for the office and its staff. The President stressed that parties are expected to "cover all policy areas", but the formation of the new government has shown that parties do not really have the expertise in different policy areas.

Levits also pointed to seven links that need to be closed in a single chain to ensure Latvia's competitiveness. These are school education, higher education, science, research, innovation, production and exports.