Latvian President to MEPs: Europe must be on the right side of history

Latvian President to MEPs: Europe must be on the right side of history

Roberta METSOLA, EP President welcomes Egils LEVITS, Latvian President

On Tuesday, Latvian President Egils Levits called on Europe to find the political will to try Russia for its crimes and give Ukraine a future in Europe.

In a formal address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Levits echoed Parliament’s demand to establish a special tribunal on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. “None of us want to live in a world where aggressive war is the norm”, he said, urging the international community to “find the political will” to set up a tribunal, not only for the sake of justice for Ukraine but to “not undermine the standard of international law that has been achieved since the Second World War.”

He criticised Europe for the “enormous mistake and naivety of moving purposefully towards dependence on Russian energy sources…despite our warnings.”

President Levits backed the request by MEPs for Europe to use frozen Russian assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine, and not only the assets of the oligarchs close to the regime but also the assets of the Central Bank of Russia. “Although complicated, it is legally possible. What is needed is political will”, he said.

Ukraine belongs in Europe

Referring to EP President’s Metsola’s promise to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy a week ago, President Levits asked for Ukraine to be given a European future. “This is a historic decision that we might have only one chance to make. The Ukrainian people have decided. Now it is our turn to do so.”

Need to protect rule of law across Europe

The Latvian President also called for a “political solution” for the challenges to the rule of law in Europe posed by “populist arguments about the will of the people”.

He warned that current developments may lead to the “weakening or even the complete loss of democracy itself”.

While diversity in national identity, culture and language constitutes Europe’s strength, “the principles of the rule of law must be the same everywhere”, he stressed.

Mr Levits became the tenth president of Latvia on 8 July 2019. He previously served as Latvian Minister for Justice and was Latvian ambassador to Hungary, Austria and Switzerland. In 1995, Mr Levits was elected to the European Court of Human Rights, and was a member of the European Court of Justice from 2004 to 2019. He is one of the authors of the preamble to Latvia’s Constitution.

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