Andra Levite Foreign policy Egils Levits
Andra Levite

Dear Olena, Excellencies, guests and brave Ukrainian citizens here and those seeking refuge abroad!

I first met Olena when she visited Riga in 2019. She was eager to learn about the lunch programmes in Latvian schools and the pedestrian-friendly cities we enjoy. In the past, Olena has used her soft power to improve the everyday lives of Ukrainian citizens. But now, she works tirelessly to protect them from this dreadful war. For this reason, I am sure the Ukrainian people are proud to call her their First Lady.

I am grateful and deeply humbled to be invited to participate at the second Kyiv Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen, organized by Olena Zelenska despite of the awful situation in this beautiful country.

When the first summit took place, we lived in a completely different world.

The Covid pandemic was troubling Europe, but nevertheless, children were enjoying their summer holidays, young students were dreaming about their future, and grandparents were spoiling their grandchildren with summer gifts.

This year, grandparents are laying their murdered grandchildren to rest and young Ukrainians heroically defend, and sadly die, for their country, and for Europe, due to the unjust, inhumane and immoral war Russia is waging against Ukraine. The democratic world admires the strength that Ukraine is showing and stands with them during their unimaginable suffering.

Russia’s act of war has torn open the superficially healed scars that exist in the memories of Latvian citizens. Memories of mass deportations, illegal killings, destroyed homes, and most importantly, the human lives that have been devastated for decades. For more than 50 years, the Latvian people suffered the same pain that Ukrainians are currently facing.

For this reason, and without any doubt or hesitation, Latvia has supported Ukraine on all fronts—political, military and humanitarian—by providing over 220 million EUR in aid.

Latvia has sheltered more than 35,000 Ukrainian refugees—mostly women and children. For all Ukrainian refugee I hope that their time in exile will be short, and they will be able to reunite with their beloved ones.  We have taken all possible measures to make their arrival in Latvia as smooth as possible, including state-funded housing and medical services that have been provided with the same access that Latvian residents enjoy.

The Latvian government has just recently approved a new support package for over 1,4 million EUR of a shipment of medicines and medical equipment to Ukraine to support immediate needs of the health sector in Ukraine. In a week we plan to deliver several track loads of medicines and the medical equipment for a rural hospital.  

Latvia, from government to businesses and civil society, stands with Ukraine today, tomorrow, and certainly after the victory of Ukraine in this brutal war. Latvia is ready to be part of the renewal process.

Ukraine has recently achieved the status of an EU candidate. While they are currently having to bravely defend against Russian attacks and attempts to steal their grain, Ukraine will also be required to fight corruption, strengthen democratic values, and fortify economic growth in order to become a full member of the European Union.

However, given the strength and courage they have shown in recent times, I am convinced that Ukraine can solve any problem it faces and will flourish in the future.

23.07.2022. Andra Levite Kijivā piedalās Ukrainas prezidenta Volodimira Zelenska dzīvesbiedres Olenas Zelenskas rīkotajā samitā “Ukraina un pasaule: Nākotni atjaunojam kopā”