On 24 November President Edgars Rinkēvičs paid a working visit to Ukraine, where he met with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, and visited the Chernihiv region, which Latvia is supporting in its reconstruction. During his visit, E. Rinkēvičs reaffirmed Latvia's unwavering support for Ukraine and its Euro-Atlantic integration.
In his conversation with the President of Ukraine, President Rinkēvičs confirmed Latvia's unwavering solidarity and long-term support to Ukraine for as long as it is needed. ‘Latvia has supported Ukraine since 2014 and will continue to do so until Ukraine's complete victory. Latvia has trained almost 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers this year and will continue training next year. Ukraine can rely on Latvia's political, economic, financial, and military support,’ said E. Rinkēvičs.
The President of Latvia expressed support for the opening of European Union accession negotiations with Ukraine. ‘Ukraine belongs in the European Union. It has made significant progress in implementing reforms, despite active hostilities and the fight against the aggressor state Russia. The progress achieved is also confirmed by the European Commission's Enlargement Report. Latvia advocates a swift start of EU accession negotiations with Ukraine. Latvia is ready to provide political and technical support to Ukraine to facilitate its integration into the European Union,’ emphasised E. Rinkēvičs.
President Rinkēvičs also noted Latvia's considerable support for the reconstruction of the Chernihiv region. ‘Latvia is committed to supporting the reconstruction of Chernihiv. Latvia's contribution to the reconstruction of Chernihiv region is significant. Latvia has already invested more than five million euros and plans to invest similar amounts in the coming years. Latvian non-governmental organisations and businesses are also providing substantial support,’ said E. Rinkēvičs.
The President of Latvia expressed support for the Ukrainian peace formula, which is the only way to resolve the current situation. ‘Only when the last Russian soldier leaves the territory of Ukraine will it be possible to talk about the end of the war,’ E. Rinkēvičs stressed.
The President of Latvia also noted that tomorrow, 25 November, will be the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor. ‘Latvia recognised the Holodomor as genocide against the Ukrainian people 15 years ago. Parallels can be drawn with the Holodomor and the current situation and Russia's actions. But the difference is that Ukraine is no longer alone,’ E. Rinkēvičs said.
During his visit to Chernihiv region, the President of Latvia met with Vyacheslav Chaus, Head of the Military Administration of Chernihiv region. The President of Latvia also visited the village of Jahidne, where together with the villagers he visited the basement of the Jahidne school, where the occupying forces held all the villagers captive for almost a month under inhuman conditions. E. Rinkēvičs stressed the need to continue to work actively to ensure comprehensive accountability of Russia and its representatives for the crimes of aggression and war crimes.
In Chernihiv region the President of Latvia also visited the Taras Shevchenko regional Ukrainian Music and Drama Theatre, which was hit by a missile on 19 August, as well as the Women's support centre, which was established in cooperation with the leading Latvian women's rights advocacy organisation ‘Centrs Marta’, viewed the housing provided by the support initiative ‘Entrepreneurs for Peace’ and Latvia and met Ukrainian families who have found homes thanks to this support.
During his visit, the President of Latvia also attended a meeting at the Ukrainian Ombudsman's Office in Kyiv, where he stressed the importance of returning illegally deported Ukrainian children to Ukraine. ‘Every effort must be made to return Ukrainian children to Ukraine,’ noted E. Rinkēvičs.