Minister of Transport Tālis Linkaits attended a meeting of EU transport ministers on Friday, 8 April 2022, to discuss further steps in support of Ukraine and challenges in the transport sector.
As the Minister of Transport stated at the meeting, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Latvia provided significant support to the Ukrainian people fleeing the war by reducing the bureaucratic burden and promoting opportunities to work in the transport sector, for example, as taxi drivers and truck drivers.
Ukrainian refugees and their family members can use regional public transport free of charge in Latvia, and this opportunity has been used more than 15 thousand times in a few weeks. These are just some of the steps taken by Latvia to support the war-torn nation.
EU transport ministers heard Infrastructure Minister of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov regarding the support for the rehabilitation of transport infrastructure and the normal functioning of the system his country required.
“We are ready to respond to the call for all the resources available to us to support the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war,” concluded Minister Linkaits.
Speaking about the EU’s joint sanctions against the aggressor country Russia, the Minister said that in such exceptional circumstances, a united and quick response was more important than ever. He welcomed the fact that the European Union had been able to agree on new sanctions against Russia and Belarus and had taken note of some of the suggestions made in a joint letter from the three Baltic and Polish transport ministers.
“However, I would like to emphasize that we need to go further and restrict access to EU ports for all Russian ships,” indicated Linkaits by pointing out that the joint sanctions of the EU Member States showed not only an active position against the unacceptable aggression of Russia, but above all it was an important tool to weaken it economically and deprive it of opportunities to continue financing the war.
Given the impact of the war on the transport sector in the EU Member States themselves, the Minister emphasized the need for an EU-level plan for the transport sector to deal with emergencies and crises in order to ensure the functioning and sustainability of the transport system.