Mr President, distinguished delegates,
Let me start by thanking the President of the United States, Joe Biden, for his leadership in bringing us together at the second Summit for Democracy.
Last year Latvia celebrated the centenary of our Constitution that enshrines our democratic identity. Yet half of that century, because of Russian occupation, Latvia was deprived of its constitutional freedoms and rights.
Unfortunately, a year ago, Ukraine suffered from a similar tragedy. Russia launched a war of aggression against Ukraine, seeking to deny its sovereign and legitimate choice – to be a democracy on the path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration. This was the choice courageously defended at Euromaidan in 2014 and demonstrated over the years with a relentless commitment to reform.
Dear Fellows of Democracy,
Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine has shaken the foundations of the international rules-based order. It is an attack not only on Ukraine. It is an attack on all of us and the core values of the UN Charter, that we, the democratic community of states, respect and protect.
We must hold Russia accountable for its crime of aggression. To achieve this goal, Latvia calls for the rapid establishment of an ad hoc international tribunal.
Let me be absolutely clear – Ukraine must win to protect all democracies. Latvia will spare no effort in supporting Ukraine.
To protect our democracies, we must strengthen our resilience at home.
Last year Latvia undertook serious efforts to advance media freedom and pluralism. We developed expert capacity to counter disinformation globally. In addition, Latvia adopted a new lobbying transparency law.
Addressing the challenges of defending democracy, protecting freedom of speech, eliminating corruption and tackling climate change cannot be the task of government alone. It requires a whole-of-society approach. In this spirit, we recently launched the Academy of Democracy, a forum that brings together representatives from state institutions, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and activists.
At this critical time, the global community of democracies must become more visible and confident. Certainly, Latvia will be investing in its own resilience, and helping other democracies across the globe.