Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade
Priorities of Latvian Presidency of European Council: Latvian Ambassador to Ireland
I, too, welcome the ambassador, thank him for his presentation and wish Latvia well in its presidency, which is coming at a crucial time for Europe in general, on the economic and social front and on a security level. There are major trade agreements coming up, economic issues that affect all of us, very particular economic issues that affect Greece and the problems in Ukraine. Everybody has mentioned the problems in Ukraine. I would also like to refer to that and how it impacts on Latvia. When the problems started in Ukraine, there was a general increase in Russian military and intelligence activity in Latvia, and Lithuania and Estonia as well, and this was noticed very much. There is a large ethnic Russian population in Latvia. About a quarter of the population is of Russian origin. The Russians justified their activities in Ukraine on the basis of the abuse of the rights of the Russian-speaking population. Is Latvia open to similar accusations? Does Latvia, which is in the EU, unlike Ukraine, feel safe from any desire of Russia to exploit what it sees as abuses of the rights of their ethnic population in other countries, whether within the EU or in Ukraine?