President: EU response to Russia escalation on Ukraine border must be rapid

Alar Karis with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Alar Karis with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia.

The European Union has to respond rapidly to any further escalation of the situation on the Ukrainian border by the Russian Federation, President Alar Karis says.

Speaking at a high-level European Commission meeting in Brussels Friday, Karis said that: "The buildup of Russian forces in the immediate vicinity of the Ukrainian border is alarming and further possible escalation would be extremely dangerous as not only would it jeopardize the security of Ukraine, it would also jeopardize the security of all of Europe."

The Estonian head of state had met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel, and referred to Russia's activities on Ukraine's borders as opaque and unacceptable, and something which the EU must be prepared to rapidly and uniformly respond to in the case of any further escalation.

On the situation with Belarus' borders with the EU, Karis said that: "It is deeply regrettable and sad that there are close to 900 political prisoners in a European country today. Their situation is horrible and there is a prevalent sense of fear in the society. We mustn't forget it."

Karis underscored the need for continued pressure on Lukashenko to release political prisoners and for finding ways to support the civil society in Belarus.

Alar Karis with President of the European Council Charles Michel. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia.

Karis also spoke about digitization and growing cyber threats, highlighting the need for a Europe-wide approach to cyber education and the creation of training opportunities.

He said: "It is clear that cyber education must start at a young age and the acquisition of cyber knowledge must be our shared priority."

The president also met with some of the rather more unsung drivers of the day-to-day functioning in Brussels and the EU, namely the many Estonian interpreters and translators who work for the union.

Numbering over 150, these constitute the bulk of Estonians working in EU institutions, BNS reports.

The close link between digital and green transitions, the European Global Gateway strategy recently introduced by the European Commission and the pandemic and vaccination programs were also on the table, BNS reports.

Karis expressed satisfaction over the Global Gateway strategy, including its notion of trusted connectivity proposed by Estonia, which means that investments need to be made by reliable partners who are guided by the criteria Europe deems important, such as the shared climate objectives and the compatibility of infrastructure with security and safety requirements.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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