‘Russia’s continued aggression in Eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol must end’, said Latvian President Vejonis at the UN.

Pictured is the President of the Republic of Latvia, Raimonds Vejonis, during recent remarks in the UN General Assembly in which he said, “Russia’s continued aggression in Eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol cannot become business as usual.” UN Photo/Cia Pak.

By Ann Charles

In a statement made at UN Headquarters in New York recently, the President of the Republic of Latvia, Raimonds Vejonis, made the following remarks on the rules based security order in Europe:

As the President put it, “solving existing conflicts is essential for preventing new ones, and we must stand firm on the rules based security order in Europe. The territorial integrity of independent states must be respected by all, including by the Russian Federation.
Russia’s unprovoked aggression against its neighbors is a serious breach of international security rules. There must be accountability for violations of international law for any aggressor who initiates and sustains these conflicts.”

As the President said at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly recently, “for Latvia, the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine and respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is a priority. Russia’s continued aggression in Eastern Ukraine and the
illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol cannot become business as usual.”

The President went on to say: “We support diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in the Normandy format and in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group so as to achieve full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all parties involved. International monitors must be granted access to Crimea, and human rights violations against residents of Crimea, including Crimean Tatars, must stop. “

The Latvian President in speaking about protracted conflicts added: “The United Nations, along with the relevant regional actors, should remain involved in, and committed to, facilitating the resolution of the protracted conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnitria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.”

On the subject of malicious propaganda and disinformation, here’s what Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis had to say: “To enjoy peace and development, our societies need space and institutions for free, open, and enlightened public debate where truth can be sought, knowledge shared, and lies exposed. “

He added, “this belief is also at the heart of our approach to countering purposeful and malicious propaganda and disinformation emanating from both state and non-state actors. Our answer to this challenge is to reassert the fundamental principles of freedom of speech, the press, and the independence of media.”

The Latvian President added, “Both nationally and internationally. We are committed to supporting the development of independent, professional, transparent, and objective media and journalism, to increasing the resilence of our societies by investing in strengthening critical thinking skills, as well as media and information literacy.”

In his opening remarks, the Latvian President seemed especially pleased to congratulate Mr. Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia) on assuming the post as President of the current session of the UN General Assembly, and said, “I am sure you will make our region proud.” The Baltic
States of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and several other Member States, including Slovakia, belong to the Eastern European group of States at the United Nations.

Other issues addressed by Latvian President Vejonis recently focused attention on the new UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, being elected on a platform of change, the Security Council’s reform which is long overdue, and the fact that North Korea’s
actions have increased global insecurity.”

The President mentioned that he was pleased that the Riga Protocol on Foreign Terrorist Fighters to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism entered into force this July, and that Latvia provides training to Iraqi security forces and financial support for stabilization efforts.”

He also pointed out that “international support will be required to help stabilize liberated areas in Syria and Iraq to allow refugees and internally displaced persons to return and start rebuilding their lives.”

In conclusion, the President of the Republic of Latvia, Raimonds Vejonis, wrapped up his remarks by saying: “let me reiterate that Latvia remains a strong advocate of the multilateral system and believes in an effective and efficient United Nations, guided by the
values on which it was founded.”

“It is time for the UN to adapt to a changing global environment, focus on priorities, and deliver results,” he said. “The UN Secretary-General cannot do this alone. We all must work together to ensure that our organization functions better and is fit for its purpose.”

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

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