RIGA - On September 19, the Latvian Foreign Ministry hosted the annual European Union Information Providers’ Forum, which focused on issues of current importance to the EU: energy-related challenges ahead of winter, and solidarity with Ukraine, LETA learned from the ministry.
The forum was opened by the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica, who noted: “Commitment to providing support for Ukraine reaffirms EU values. The values are not just words in the EU treaties, but they manifest themselves in concrete deeds.”
Kalnina-Lukasevica also informed those present about the amount of assistance to Ukraine. While the EU supports Ukraine with EUR 19 million, Latvia’s support amounts to 0.80 percent of its GDP, exceeding EUR 320 million, which includes both civilian and military assistance. The provision of knowledge and skills is of special relevance for Ukraine to be prepared for accession to the EU.
Kalnina-Lukasevica underlined that while addressing the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine, such as inflation, security concerns and uncertainty about future, we must be on our guard for European values and principles, we must be able to protect democracy.
“Let us remember that Russia seeks to conquer Ukraine, while hoping to weaken us as democratic societies, and consequently as independent states. Fostering resilience, strengthening the EU and NATO, and working together to protect those values is the only correct answer,” the Parliamentary Secretary said.
The participants of the forum were also addressed by the Head of the Liaison office in Latvia at European Parliament, Marta Ribele, who noted that public support for the EU had increased. The EU’s decisions concern every resident. The society in Latvia, by voting in the parliamentary elections, has the opportunity to indirectly elect the Council of the EU. Ribele also noted that Latvia had the same possibilities as other countries to influence EU decisions
The head of the European Commission Representation in Latvia, Zane Petre, said in her speech that it was essential to hold ground and continue support for Ukraine. There are many good examples in Latvia, and that is what shows European values and solidarity. Although the past 70 years may have created impression that democracy is self-evident, it is vital to listen to people and promote further development of democracy. The Conference on the Future of Europe is one of the ways to that end, and the European Commission has made known its intention to continue discussions with people on vital issues in future.
During the forum, energy-related topics relevant to Latvia and the European Union were discussed by a Member of the European Parliament, Inese Vaidere; the economist at Banka Citadele, Martins Abolins; the Chair of the Board of the Public Utilities Commission, Alda Ozola; and the Member of the Board of the District Heating Association of Latvia, Edgars Vigants. A discussion titled “Solidarity with Ukraine – things jointly accomplished and things to do” brought together Member of the Board of an association, Gribu Palidzet Begliem (I Want to Help Refugees), Linda Jakobsone; the State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Dimitrijs Trofimovs; the founder of Entrepreneurs for Peace association, Ieva Driksna; and the Team Leader of Policy and Reform Coordination Team at the European Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine, Tanel Tan.
The European Union Information Providers Forum has been organized since 2008 by the European Movement in Latvia in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Liaison Office of the European Parliament in Latvia and the representation of the European Commission in Latvia. It brings together the EU information contacts at national and local governments, representatives from EU Information Points (ESIP), Europe Direct Information Centers (EDIC), the media, and NGOs.
On earlier occasions, the forum took place online due to pandemic-related restrictions.