Egils Levits Foreign policy
Valsts prezidenta Egila Levita uzruna ANO Ģenerālās asamblejas īpašajā sesijā par COVID-19 pandēmijas apkarošanu

Mr President, Excellencies,

In the time of a global pandemic, let me first pay tribute to the global medical community for their dedicated and professional work. I would also like to salute all key workers who keep our basic services running and the scientists who are working to develop an effective vaccine.

Now, more than ever, we need to be united, show solidarity and cooperate closely to address the pandemic and its devastating consequences. We can only succeed through the multilateral approach. This special UN session underlines the central role of the United Nations system in achieving our goals.

The World Health Organization is the leading and coordinating authority in addressing global health challenges. We must strengthen it through reforms that increase its efficiency.

Latvia has financially contributed to the World Health Organization through the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. It was our response to the global appeal of the UN Secretary-General to act together and show solidarity.

Latvian scientists actively participate in vaccine development.

Our Government took quick and decisive action to ensure contact tracking, social distancing, and testing availability, as well as development of digital solutions. It is a careful effort to limit economic losses while safeguarding public health.

The Government, in close cooperation with the private sector, introduced three main digital solutions:

An e-Parliament platform, so that our national parliament could continue legislative functions in lockdown mode; the Government, too, meets online.

A TV channel “Your Class” and other digital tools to enable remote schooling.

And the first nationally endorsed contact tracing app “Stop Covid”, which is compatible with other European tracing apps. 25 % of mobile internet users have already downloaded this app. The app ensures anonymity, essential for respecting the privacy of infected persons.

In terms of economic recovery, Latvia fully supports the UN Secretary-General’s call to ‘build back better’. It is not necessary, or even desirable, to return to the old normality in every way. Our production and consumption patterns have been interrupted by the pandemic. While we all work together to revive and save our economies, we also have an opportunity to rethink our approach and introduce more sustainable solutions.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the critical need to counter misinformation during this pandemic and beyond. Access to free, reliable and science-based information through reputable media is essential. This challenge must be recognized and dealt with not only by governments, but also by international organizations. At the UN, Latvia will continue to raise awareness of the need to counter disinformation.

Let us all work together to save lives and start sustainable recovery around the globe!

Thank you!