'There is no alternative to NATO', Latvian president says
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Latvia's President Egils Levits has told FRANCE 24 that "there is no alternative to NATO". His remarks came after French President Emmanuel Macron said that NATO was undergoing "brain death" and he had "lost faith" in the transatlantic military alliance. Levits lamented "verbal critiques from different partners of NATO", but insisted that "the transatlantic relation remains crucial".
Addressing the EU's relations with Russia, Latvian President Egils Levits said he was "sceptical" that progress has been made in Ukraine, but called for dialogue, saying: "We should speak with Russia, and Russia should speak with Europeans... But we should also stick to our firm position that respect for international law is the basis for international peace".
Turning to the EU's failure to green-light formal accession proceedings for Northern Macedonia and Albania – a move that Jean-Claude Juncker called "an historic mistake" – the Latvian president said he was "not happy" with the decision. He proposed continuing negotiations with the two Balkan states, saying "this is a postponement, not a rejection of the demand for these countries to join the European Union".
Finally, after a series of banking crises, including cases of money laundering and corruption at Latvian banks, Levits denied that Latvia’s banking sector needed further stabilising or help. "Latvia has done the necessary measures in order to cope with this problem. This scandal happened two or three years ago". Pressed further, he insisted: "The banking system is stable and the necessary measures to not allow such money laundering scandals are also taken by the government".
Presented by Catherine Nicholson
Produced by Mathilde Bénézet, Céline Schmitt and Perrine Desplats