Baltic parliament speakers visit Kyiv, address Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) and his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts on Thursday visited Kyiv, where they addressed the Verkhovna Rada as well as met with Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk.
The parliamentary speakers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania visited Kyiv exactly a month after the beginning of the war, where together with Stefanchuk they adopted a joint declaration for the restoration of security in Europe, according to a Riigikogu press release.
The declaration was signed by Ratas, Stefanchuk, Speaker of the Latvian Saeima Inara Murniece and Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen.
"International support to Ukraine is strong at the moment, but it needs to be upheld for an extended period," Ratas said. "First the war must be ended, Russian forces expelled and the integrity of Ukraine restored. Then we need to rebuild the cities and towns destroyed by the Russian forces."
He expressed hope that by that time, Ukraine's accession process to the EU will have begun. Estonia would do its best to speed up this process, he added.
"Ukraine is also fighting to defend Europe as a whole and our values," Ratas continued. "In light of this, we should focus on supporting Ukraine in all areas possible, isolating Russia and raising the cost of the aggression."
He also reiterated his promise that Ukraine would not be left alone to face violence and injustice, adding that millions of people worldwide were going to keep this promise.
Ratas gave Stefanchuk a commemorative photo collage of the February 26 protest in Tallinn's Freedom Square, where more than 30,000 people turned out in support of Ukraine.
Today at Verkhovna Rada with colleagues Ruslan Stefanchuk, Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen and Inara Murniece. Addressing the Rada session, signing joint statement. #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/kowSFd9UsI— Jüri Ratas (@ratasjuri) March 24, 2022
Estonia as well as many other countries have helped Ukraine, the Estonian speaker said, noting that the assistance provided thus far has spanned from political and military support to humanitarian aid.
"Not just the state, but thousands and thousands of Estonians have offered their help and donated money to help the women and children fleeing the war," he noted. "We admire their bravery."
Ratas recalled that the Estonian people know what it means to flee war and occupation, as in 1944, tens of thousands of Estonians fled the country, many of whom did not live long enough to see Estonian independence restored in 1991. "Today, it is all of our duty to help Ukraine," he said.
Ratas is accompanied on his visit by Estonia-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group chairman and MP Mati Raidma (Reform) and MP Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
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Editor: Aili Vahtla