11/28/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/28/2021 11:10
Prime Minister Kariņš, dear Krišjānis it is always a great pleasure to be in Riga, to be in Latvia, but especially tonight because I am here together with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and demonstrates the unity, the high level of cooperation between NATO and the European Union in facing the challenges we see now on the border of Belarus, but also in and around Ukraine. So therefore, I think it is timely that we are together today. Let me start by recognizing the many valuable contributions Latvia makes to NATO to our shared security, including contributions to our different NATO missions and operations and exercises, and also with investments in key capabilities and with expertise in countering disinformation. And we also very much welcome the fact that you have, for now several years, spent more than 2% of GDP on defence. Today, we will visit the Centre of Excellence which focuses on disinformation. We will be briefed on this important work. We will be joined by the Director of the European Centre for Countering Hybrid Threats based in Helsinki, and the Director of the NATO Cyber Defence Centre based in Talinn.
NATO is strongly committed to Latvia's security, including through the presence of our multinational battlegroup in Ādaži, where ten Allies serve alongside Latvian forces to deter aggression and preserve peace. I look forward to visit our NATO battlegroup tomorrow. We just had a substantive discussion on current security challenges in the region. Including the Belarusian regime's cynical and inhumane exploitation of vulnerable people.
Which aims to put pressure on neighbouring countries.
We stand in full solidarity with Latvia and all the other directly affected Allies, and we keep in contact with partner countries that may be used for transit. We also discussed Russia's unexplained and unjustified military build-up near Ukraine.
We call on Russia to be transparent, reduce tensions, and de-escalate.
NATO remains vigilant.
We stand ready to defend all Allies.
And we will continue to provide our partner Ukraine with political and practical support.
And we will meet the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Georgia here in Riga, at our NATO Foreign Ministers meeting this week. It is important for me to be here with President von der Leyen.
Because NATO and the European Union are unique and essential partners, and we are working together, and that makes us all stronger. Our cooperation has already reached unprecedented levels, including on cyber, maritime security and building stability in the Western Balkans. And we are looking into what more we could do together. And also as President von der Leyen mentioned, we are now working on a new Joint Declaration from the EU and NATO. NATO Foreign Ministers will meet here in Riga on Tuesday and on Wednesday, and our discussions will help to strengthen our Alliance in a more dangerous and competitive world. So I think the message is that in uncertain times, in challenging times, is even more important that we have big and strong institutions like NATO and like the European Union, and that we are demonstrating our ability to work together. So once again, thank you so much for hosting us tonight.