National security debate covers Russia, refugees... and this website

Outgoing Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma on Thursday delivered the annual overview of the national security situation in the country at Saeima.

In a wide-ranging introductory speech, Straujuma touched on topics including Europe's refugee crisis, Russia's aggression in Ukraine, hybrid threats and the dangers of energy isolation.

"Russian aggression in Ukraine continued to threaten peace and stability in Europe in 2015. Significant progress in resolving the crisis has so far not been achieved despite a fragile ceasefire," Straujuma said.

Nor would Russia's meddling end in Ukraine, she warned.

"Russia will continue to attempt to influence Latvian national security. Aggressive propaganda, imposing economic sanctions, military force projection and unprecedented troop concentrations on the borders of the Baltic States are its manifestations, against which we have to work in the future."

On the subject of the refugee crisis Europe has yet to solve, Straujuma advised her successor to oppose any effort by the European Union to impose compulsory acceptance of refugees.

"We cannot support this mechanism if it is obligatory," she said, adding that Europe needed to take control of its own borders.

A secure Latvia was "unthinkable" without NATO and the European Union, she said.

On energy independence, Straujuma emphasized the need for swift liberalization of the gas market.

"Latvia has to complete its homework. We must open the gas market. We will all benefit from increased choice and lower prices," she said

LSM's English-language service also merited a mention during the debate when Latvian Regional Alliance deputy Juris Vilums followed up comments by Straujuma on the need to maintain media independence and develop critical thinking by saying the provision of reliable public media information in Latvian, Russian and English was an aspect of national security too.

Last week a decision was taken to cut funding to LSM's English-language service. However, after a public outcry and pressure from members of several different political parties, that decision appears likely to be reversed, though no official decision has yet been taken.

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