Being here in this beautiful place, on the centenary of Latvia's independence - as well as that of Estonia and Lithuania (although it is not represented here) - increases the importance of this meeting and its significance.
I would like to thank the President for choosing a woman to moderate our meeting, thus compensating for the imbalance between us, between men and women.
I would also like to thank him for choosing the theme, because we can all see how widespread the sense of insecurity is among our fellow citizens in this historical season, and we all feel the need to, concretely and effectively, pinpoint the reason behind this insecurity and how it may be dealt with and overcome.
A short while ago, my friend President Pavlópulos expounded upon one of the issues that cause insecurity: the climate. There are many problems from an economic and social point of view; nevertheless, the space that most holds our attention today is the cybernetic one.
We have had long decades of peace in Europe, but now the threats in this situation have multiplied, they are different, new: they are complex threats that concern not only the security of the state but that of individual citizens and complex organized work in society.
A great Italian entrepreneur of a few decades ago, who was also a social scholar, defined computers, algorithms and networks as 'freedom technologies'. We must ensure that cyberspace truly is a place of freedom and not a place of hostility and danger to the overall cohabitation of every single society and to international cohabitation.
Indeed, this pertains to the quality of life and therefore affects, in a conscious or unconscious way, the sense of security our fellow citizens.
We all know that the consequences of cyber-attacks can be disastrous: on public information systems, on banks, on electoral systems, on social and health systems. And the likelihood that large criminal groups, or even hostile states, can cause such disastrous losses is truly alarming for one and all.
I believe that many of us are aware of the countless current alarms.
Two former US defense officials recently stated that there are states that are arming the Internet. There are new dangers, in fact, much more insidious ones through which - as we have all known and seen - public opinion can be manipulated.
Traditional tools, even the most refined and advanced defenses, are defenseless against these dangers and threats.
Hence, we must focus on the theme chosen by our host, President Vejonis, that is, to make our societies resilient. This requires a collaboration – as you may have gathered but we have yet to pinpoint the most suitable tools to this end - of all the interested parties: the States, international institutions and Internet giants.
Traditionally States are under obligation to defend from physical attacks, yet they are also under obligation to defend their fellow citizens from these virtual attacks.
The Internet giants, who created the Internet, have a responsibility to make it a place of freedom and not a place of threats.
This is what is required: all these subjects must be brought together, in a decisive way - and this can be done by the Union and not by the individual States - to intervene in a coordinated manner to that effect.
However, in my opinion the most important thing is to create social antibodies, beginning with the school, with ongoing education regarding Internet use.
In other words, the real defense and the real antibody against cybernetic threats is above all the critical sensibility of citizens.
This is why we must not fall into the trap of believing that we can regiment our fellow citizens by guiding them, but we must stimulate their freedom and critical sensibility as this is society’s only effective defense against cybernetic threats.
There is the responsibility of the State: to oppose these threats, these attacks and possibilities; the responsibility of international communities; but there are also tools to make citizens responsive to these dangers.
And this recalls our core values, those that motivate and gave life to the European Union: freedom, civil rights, fundamental rights.
It would be a mistake to think of defending oneself from these Internet dangers by blocking territorial, linguistic or ethnic borders because, with regards to these cyber threats, borders no longer exist, they are not a defense.
Our only defense is the systematic, coordinated, conscious and effective action of the States, the international organizations and Internet giants and above all - I repeat – an increase in the critical sensibility and participation of individual citizens.
This is what beckons us all, governments and the European Union, to the full restoration of the founding values of the Union.