Ilves: Russia’s activities in Syria challenge Europe
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is on a working visit to the United States, said in Washington that Russia’s interference in the civil war in Syria has forced European countries to face complicated foreign policy choices, considering that the currents actions are against the backdrop of Russian aggression in East Ukraine and Crimea.
Ilves expressed his opinion at the discussion organised by the Center for European Political Analysis (CEPA), in which the Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis also participated and which was moderated by the Editor of Economist magazine, Edward Lucas. Ilves also discussed the current foreign and security policy situation at the Foreign Policy Initiative conference in Washington.
“Europe has to make some concrete decisions regarding the crisis in Syria and Russia’s activities in this region. On one hand, the European Union must remain true to its principles, by acting as one and not acknowledging the annexation of Crimea and responding to Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine. On the other, now that we have read the news about the activities of Russia in Syria, we need to ask whether we all fight for common values in the coalition against ISIS. For a Europe relying on the fundamental values of liberal democracy, these developments clearly involve a challenge,” Ilves said.
President Ilves added that Europe must show solidarity in receiving and assisting the war refugees moving in mass from the Middle East. “Given the situation, the emergence of extreme right and left wing political forces in Europe, who are fanning intolerance in society, is a worrying development,” he said.