President Levits talks NATO and Russia on France 24 TV channel

During a recent visit to France, reported at the time by LSM, Latvian President Egils Levits stopped off at the studios of the France24 television news channel and gave a wide-ranging English-language interview, which you can watch above.

Asked for his opinion on recent comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, Levits said:

"I would not say that there is a real, very deep crisis, but we have difficulties in the European Union, but also in NATO. I see that NATO is still, and should be, the most powerful military and defense organization in the world... the cornerstone of NATO is the trans-Atlantic partnership... I think there is no alternative to that."

NATO should be further strengthened, and underpinning principles of democracy and rule of law should be protected, he said, adding that he had no doubt that NATO members remained committed to the principle of collective defense.

He also hinted that he was not totally opposed to the idea of a European army, recently floated once again by President Macron.

"From the Latvian point of view the most important pillar [of defense] is the European pillar and we should strengthen cooperation - and I would strengthen the word cooperation - between the European member states of NATO and I think this means also the project of President Macron," he said.

On Russia, President Levits said: "Dialog between Europe and Russia is always good. We should speak with Russia and Russia should speak with Europeans. Dialog is a normal modus of international politics. But we should also stick to our position that respecting international law is the basis for international peace. Without respecting international law there would be no peace, and therefore in this dialog we should urge Russia to respect international law, particularly in Ukraine."

"Demand for respect for international law can never be provocative," President Levits said in a particularly memorable moment.

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