Kyiv, December 10, 2014. The former president for Latvia, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga (1999-2007), supports Ukraine’s European aspirations and is alarmed by the re-emergence of territorial expansion and aggression on the European continent. Since Latvia’s independence, the country has succeeded in re-affirming its European values even despite the sometimes corrosive legacy of the Soviet past. This was said at Ukraine Crisis Media Center by Vike-Freiberga.
The contemporary crisis in Ukraine is not merely a localized conflict between Ukraine and Russia, but is instead an extremely troubling situation for the entire world. The Baltic states, considering their proximity and history with Russia, are perhaps most concerned about Russia’s actions. “We feel that what is happening here is extremely alarming for security and peace in Europe,” she said. “It is a very unfortunate and very shocking return to [an era of] territorial expansion.” Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have uprooted a European security order than had remained intact since the end of the Cold War.
Vike-Freiberga believes that the Ukrainian crisis will undermine negotiations with Iran over Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. After Ukraine’s independence, Kyiv declared its country a nuclear weapon free state in exchange for security guarantees from Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. “The fact that one of these signatories was grossly breached, and the other two couldn’t put significant political pressure on their partner is alarming,” she stated. Now, when the international community negotiates with Iran, authorities in Iran are much less likely to take assurances of Iranian sovereignty and territorial integrity seriously.
The former Latvian president urged Ukrainian authorities to take the country’s reform agenda seriously both as a method to fulfill the country’s European aspirations and protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Reforms and self-defense need to be completed simultaneously. “Reforms need to be executed as quickly as possible,” she stated. At the same time, defense is clearly necessary. “You do need to defend yourself,” Vike-Freiberga said. Although the reforms might prove difficult and costly, they are ultimately highly valuable