Latvian leaders pledge support for Ukraine

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Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and Latvia's Vice President at the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, both pledged ongoing support to embattled Ukraine Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference in Kyiv dedicated to EU support for Ukraine, Straujuma emphasised that Europe had no intention of recognizing Russia's land grab in Crimea.

"You are not alone in this situation. Latvia and Europe is with you. And it is clear - Crimea is and will be part of Ukraine," Straujuma said.

"The main responsibility – for development, stability and reform – is Ukraine’s. [The] Reform process must be a process led by Ukraine. And owned by Ukranians. It is for Ukrainian institutions, politicians and citizens, to drive reform and determine a positive future for Ukraine," Straujuma said. 

Dombrovskis looked to the future and the need for far-reaching reforms, saying the current situation in Ukraine reminded him of events in his homeland in several different ways.

"The situation in Ukraine now reminds me somewhat of the situation which my country, Latvia, and other Baltic States, went through twice in the past 25 years.

"The first time was at the beginning of 1990s, when the Baltic States regained independence from the Soviet Union. The second time was just five years ago, when Latvia and other Baltic States were hit by the deepest economic and financial crisis in the EU.

"In both cases, we went through a process of profound change. This change left a deep imprint not only in the architecture of our statehood and economy; these changes have transformed our minds.

"It reminded us that freedom, democracy and prosperity have a price. As regards the economic development the price is structural reforms. But the longer one waits to start them, the higher the price.

Dombrovskis also stressed that Ukraine needed to raise its game regarding corruption and rule of law. 

"The transition process in Eastern Europe after the collapse of communist regimes has shown that the rule of law is very important for the whole reform process.

"Baltic countries and also Poland, a country comparable in size to Ukraine, are examples of how quick and decisive action in carrying out the reforms bears fruits.

"Ukraine itself is an example that the longer one delays the reforms, the higher the price of stability, in all senses of the term," Dombrovskis said.

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