Edvards Smiltēns: We must shape our foreign policy environment in a targeted way, expanding the area of a united, free, and secure Europe


To prevent the foreign policy agenda and decisions of others from overtaking our everyday life, we—both Latvia at the national level and the European Union—must be active in shaping the foreign policy environment where we will live, underlined Edvards Smiltēns, Speaker of the Saeima, on Friday, 17 March, at the opening of the conference “Baltic‑Nordic EU Conversations 2023: More United than Ever?” at the Latvian Parliament.

We should become increasingly aware that with every decision we make or avoid making we are creating the future security environment of Europe and the new basis for security architecture, said the Speaker of the Saeima.

Here I see a particularly important role for our region—the Baltic States, the Nordic countries, and Poland. We are like-minded countries with a very close understanding of security. Similarly, we see the existential nature of the Russian threat, the importance of transatlantic ties, and the need to strengthen the rule of law on a global level. In addition, this past year has clearly shown that together we can make a significant contribution to strengthening the European Union’s capacity to act, said Smiltēns.

The Speaker of the Saeima noted that many of the decisions taken at the national level seem to be self-evident, but we gained political courage for implementing these decisions only from Ukraine’s heroic fight against Russian aggression. Similar observations are true regarding our actions at the European Union level.

The story of the European Union’s capacity to act after 24 February 2022 has been an overall positive one, underlined the Speaker of the Saeima. From day one, we managed to demonstrate unity and make crucial decisions, both to support Ukraine’s capabilities and to reduce our dependence and vulnerability to Russia. Some of the decisions have been truly historic: we are already financing Ukraine’s military capabilities from the joint budget of the European Union. Hopefully, soon we will also carry out the first joint military procurement of the European Union to strengthen Ukraine’s and our own military capabilities, emphasised Smiltēns.

The Speaker of the Saeima called for targeted strengthening of economic resilience in Europe and for adapting the military industry to the time of war and the subsequent long-term confrontation between the law of force and the force of law. An equally ambitious and safe environment needs to be built around us—expanding the area of a united, free, and secure Europe that includes both Ukraine within the borders of 1991 and the Balkan region, Moldova, and Georgia.

“Today, the European Union is indeed more united than ever. However, European and transatlantic unity is not a status to be achieved once; rather, it is a process that requires our continuous investment and ever new initiatives,” said Smiltēns.

In order to discuss current developments in the European Union, its role in the world and its future, including in a geopolitical context, the international high-level expert conference “Baltic-Nordic EU Conversations 2023: More United than Ever?” is taking place at the Saeima today. It is organised by the Saeima in cooperation with the Latvian Institute of International Affairs and the European Commission Representation in Latvia.


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