External Relations Archives – Institute of Economics
Task of the science is to serve
people.

– Tolstoy –

Science is the captain, and
practice the soldiers.

– Leonardo da Vinci –

Frontiers of science are like the
horizon: the more we approach
it, the more it moves away.

– Boiste –

The fantasy is more important
than knowing.

– Albert Einstein –

Science – it means organized
knowledge.

– Spencer –

Freedom for the science the
same as the air for a living soul.

– Poincaré –

Research area of all sciences is
endless.

– Pascal –

System of science must be
looked at as the system of
nature: all in it is endless and
necessary.

– Cuvier –

Scientific plan without working
hypothesis is a skeleton without
living body.

– Hirschfeld-

The main research subject of
mankind is the human.

– Goethe –

All is important in science.

– Heine –

Books must be results of
sciences, but sciences not results
of books.

– Bacon –

Scientist is not the one, who
gives the right answers, but the
one, who asks the right
questions.

– Claude Lévi-Strauss –

The more we will seek for the
truth outside us, the more we
will move away of it. The more
we will be able to understand
who we are, the more the truth
will assert us in ourselves.

– Antonio Meneghetti –

Before being dictated the nature
needs to be obeyed.

– Bacon –

A true scientist is not one who
has more acquired, but one who
has more understood.

– Leibniz –

Science – to know how the
being acts. To know the action
of the being.

– Antonio Meneghetti –

Science is benefactor of
mankind.

– Berthelot –

Home » Briefings » External Relations

Latvia external relations briefing: ACHIEVEMENTS IN FOREIGN POLICY OF LATVIA IN 2019

The 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Baltic Way solidarity demonstration allowed Latvia to look back on what has been achieved and reminded us of a dynamic and changing international environment. A new European Parliament and Commission with new objectives and tasks have been elected in the European Union. The rhetoric and behavior of the administration of the US President Donald Trump have a profound impact on the international system and regional dynamics also in Latvia. At the same time, the US has consistently held on to its commitment to strengthen security on the alliance’s eastern flank, and it has motivated the allies to do their homework. The NATO Summit in London has re-affirmed solidarity within the alliance, while reminding of the need to continuously strengthen both the fundamental principles of the transatlantic alliance and cooperation between its member states. 

2019 also stands out for two more anniversaries – it has been 15 years since Latvia became a proud member of the EU and NATO. Active participation in these key organizations is a testament to both the sustainable development of our country and the endurance of its Euro-Atlantic ties.

For international relations, 2019 was not an easy time. The institutionalized international political order of the last century continued to undergo significant changes. International institutions, international law and free trade, and international political values are no longer self-evident, but under increasing pressure and in need of our support. On the Latvian foreign policy front [1] in 2019 we should look at a trio of power centers – U.S.A, Russia and Europe.

Latvia and U.S.A 

Changes within top echelons of the US administration, political turmoil within the country and uncertainties in US foreign policy have continued to unsettle international relations in 2019. US policy towards Russia remains embroiled by issues raised during investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Meanwhile, Trump had another meeting with Putin at the Osaka G20 Summit in June, and after the G7 meeting, announced that next year’s meeting in the USA would see a return to the G8, with the presence of Russia again at the table. Russia’s role in Syria appeared strengthened after the sudden and seemingly uncoordinated decision by Trump to withdraw troops. This uncertainty and unpredictability of actions of Trump’s administration towards Russian Federation caused tension in Latvia’s policy-maker circles.

Latvia is interested in strong ally fully committed to democratic values and human rights, therefore domestic policy of U.S. is also of Latvia’s concern. Staunch support for the EU and NATO is not only a necessity that has been dictated by the life and experience: it has become a part of Latvia’s foreign policy identity, and it would require something extreme to happen for things to change in this regard. Significant changes in Latvian foreign policy can happen because of shifts in the international order.

Good news for Latvia, America’s commitment to defending Europe remained undiminished during 2019, with an armored brigade combat team being deployed on a nine-month rotating basis. This is supported by the prepositioning of equipment for a second team that could deploy if a need were to arise. US engagement in the Eastern Flank remains solid, with plans to deploy a further 1,000 troops to Poland. Washington has doubled its financial support for its European deterrence initiative to 6.5 billion euros.

In their turn, Latvia and neighboring NATO countries contribute 2% of GDP towards defense. The 2019 Consolidated Budget Law passed by the parliament of the Republic of Latvia, Saeima, on 3 April, set the defense spending at 2% of the GDP, or EUR 636.65 million having reached the increase of EUR 60.3 million if compared to the plan of 2018. [2] Latvia is fully committed to keeping the national defense expenditure at this level for the foreseeable future.

Latvia and Russia

Along with USA, the external relations policy of Latvia has to deal with Russia as the close neighbour of Latvia and global power which can influence international affairs. Dialogue between Russia’s president and his Western counterparts can yield positive results, as long as a unity of approach prevails and attempts to “divide and conquer” are rejected. Dialogue should also take place on the basis that NATO’s defense and deterrence policy remains robust in parallel with any agreements.

In 2019, on a more regional level, Latvia has contributed to practical relations with the neighbor. Latvia’s presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, which includes Russia, provided a focus on practical projects relating, for example, to climate change, spatial development, cultural heritage and societal security. The closing meeting in Jūrmala gave Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin the opportunity to hold a productive bilateral meeting with Latvian Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs.

Latvia and European Union

In 2019, life in Europe involved the anticipation of change – everybody was waiting for the new composition of the European Parliament and of the Commission, Latvia was waiting for the final words on the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, for future decisions on the multi-annual budget, for enlargement. Brexit elicited an unprecedented political and constitutional chaos in the United Kingdom in 2019. The government kept Latvians in the UK well-informed and advised on how to deal with various scenarios.

The results of the European Parliament elections confirmed that Europeans are calling for change. Sixty percent of the newly elected MPs are new, and the majority of political groups are no longer made up of only two parties. The new balance of power prevented the possibility of old ways of agreement. At the end of the year, the European Parliament approved the new European Commission with a new president Ursula von der Leyen, who has already come out with an ambitious and comparatively more social agenda than the previous one.

In those new conditions Latvia gained some influence in Europe. An important role is planned for Latvia’s European Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis in the achievement of priorities for reducing inequality; he has been nominated for a position as an EU executive vice president with the “Economy That Works for People” portfolio, with the goal of combining the social dimension and the market dimension of the economy. Dombrovskis was given not only an important portfolio, but also the role of one of three “executive vice presidents” along with Danish and Dutch political heavyweights Margrethe Vestager and Frans Timmermans. For Latvian MP it is very ambitious position to achieve.

Also European experience of Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has ensured that Latvia has a high-profile and dynamic role in Europe that has not been previously seen, with the foundations having been laid by veteran Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs. Additionally, Latvian diplomats were allocated high positions: Ilze Juhansone as interim EU General Secretary and Pēteris Ustubs as chief diplomatic adviser on the team of new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen [3].

Previously another opportunity for Latvia to play a decisive role in EU political dynamics came at the informal summit of Heads of State and Governments in Sibiu, Romania on 9 May 2019. Through some determined actions, Prime Minister Kariņš approached President Macron to let him know that Latvia wanted to join the French initiative within the EU on climate change – Latvia then joined a group of eight European member states that support the setting of more ambitious goals for Europe: achieving climate neutrality in the region by 2050. This required Latvia to reconsider its national position in order to achieve the goal. Remarkable, that this decision of Latvia to join the climate change initiative came as a positive surprise to the French. Moreover, Latvia’s decision, according to conversations with French officials thereafter, changed the dynamics surrounding this initiative. It is one of the greatest achievements of Latvia in the external relations.

Conclusion

Latvia has done very well in external relations in 2019. In any event, Latvia’s foreign policy was neither dead nor buried, but rather it was very much alive and invigorated. Consistency and strategic patience are required from Latvia in handling both Russia and America. The rhetoric and behavior of the administration of the US President Donald Trump have a profound impact on the international system and regional dynamics. At the same time, the US has consistently held on to its commitment to strengthen security on the alliance’s eastern flank, and it has motivated the Latvia to grow their defense expenditures.

Kariņš role as negotiator for the EPP and appointment of Valdis Dombrovskis to an executive vice-president role in the Commission were both successful foreign policy achievements for Latvia in the complex environment of EU power negotiations. At the beginning of 2019, very few people could have anticipated that Latvian politicians would make such good use of the opportunities presented by changes in EU institutions during the course of the year. Kariņš’s long tenure in the European Parliament and Dombrovskis’s sound reputation were clearly important contributing factors in this.

It is worth to say, that Latvia’s minimal resources were used to maximum effect in Europe in 2019.

REFERENCES 

[1] Latvian Foreign and Security Policy. Yearbook 2020

[2] Website of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia. https://www.mod.gov.lv/en/news/pabriks-spending-2-gdp-defence-we-are-significantly-strengthening-combat-capabilities-latvian

[3] Lieģis, I. Alive and Kicking in 2019. In: The Latvian Foreign and Security Policy Yearbook 2020

Latvia external relations briefing: PROSPECTS OF FOREIGN POLICY OF LATVIA IN 2020

Summary

Latvia’s foreign policy environment is and will continue to be constantly changing. The year 2020, like 2019, will bring many challenges, tough decisions and opportunities. Foreign policy of Latvia is mainly depending on common position of European Union and is very much affected by proximity to Russian Federation. Geographical location of Latvia can be viewed as one at the intersection of superpower interests. As the Annual Report of the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the accomplishments and further work with respect to national foreign policy and the European Union 2018states, the best way for Latvia to defend its vital interests and make the foreign policy is to operate in an international environment characterized by the four following features: a strong European Union (EU), a strong NATO, the preservation of the current international system, and possibilities for engaging in regional cooperation that meets its national interests. It stays true for 2020 as well.

The future development of Europe and Latvia faces many challenges: geopolitical shifts, competitiveness in the digital economy, climate change, security in changing global environment, search for its own identity and future image. Important foreign relations event for Latvia is the Conference on the Future of Europe to be held on Europe Day, 9 May 2020. The conference will address a broad debate on the future of Europe – on institutional change, decision-making, policy priorities, values. The interest of Latvia in the conference is to assert itself as the creator of the future of Europe, as a supporter of a strong Europe, and as a keeper of European values [1].

Several big trends affecting foreign policy of Latvia in 2020 are listed below.

  • Multilateralism is in crisis 

Multilateralism now is experiencing a small crisis. The important challenge for Latvia in 2020 is rivalry between the main players, such as U.S.-China-EU-Russia relations, which inevitably affects the current multilateral order and Baltic region state of affairs. The recent debates contain several issues: the weakening of the values of democracy, human rights, free trade and collective defense alliances, such as NATO in the international area. It also can be assumed that European Union got weaker in 2019 due Brexit and many populist and nationalist parties evolving in Europe. Instead of the multicultural practice of coordinating national policies, including foreign relations, in groups and alliances of many states who all therefore have a voice at the international stage, world is approaching multipolar order with several great powers heavily influencing international relations. For small countries like Latvia these are not good news.

Wider multilateralism crisis shares doubt over the foundations on which agreements have been reached and over institutions that regulate interstate disputes. Neighbor of Latvia, Russia, is actively working to bring international norms and the interpretation thereof closer to their own more authoritarian norms. International organizations and regional agreements, which have characterized the political space of post-war Europe, are experiencing a certain crisis of influence and recognition. Such shifts of values and norms towards specific regimes are not in the interests of Baltic states. Latvian government should be able to accurately assess the international situation, the challenges and opportunities created by changes, and to formulate its foreign and security policy in accordance with the conclusions drawn.

  • Security is a priority of foreign policy

Russia is one of the security challenges of Latvia. If in the past the European Union had pursued a strategic partnership with Russia to address a wide range of issues – trade, energy, climate, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons – then, since the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the EU has resorted to the policy of sanctions. The next decisions on the sanctions will be made in summer 2020. However, current trend shows that Western countries are looking to build closer relations with Russia; there is a weariness of sanctions and a weariness of the strong position that has been taken so far.

Latvian parliament insists that the task of Latvia is to ensure that the sanctions policy remains in place until a solution is found to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea. It is important for Latvia to keep the focus on international violations of Russia on the European agenda, without giving the opportunity to deviate from the principles and fundamental values of the EU. The security of Latvia is closely interconnected with of the strong transatlantic links. Special attention will be paid to the enhancement of the legislative framework regulating the field of development cooperation, the improvement of the system for evaluating bilateral development cooperation, as well as public outreach measures to raise awareness of the importance of development cooperation and its role in fostering sustainable development [2]. The cooperation between allies will remain the priority on 2020 foreign policy agenda in Latvia.

  • Cyber security is a part of comprehensive national defense system

There are significant challenges that Latvia and its allies should address collectively in 2020: climate change, migration control, gun control and cyber security. President of Latvia stressed, that “cybersecurity imposes one of the greatest challenges for the future not only on a state but also on every citizen. To overcome this challenge much has been already done at national level. However, to ensure the security of our information space and cyber security, the capacity of the responsible institutions must be further enhanced, and public media literacy must be facilitated” [3]. On 17 September 2019, Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia (Latvian government) approved the ‘Cyber Security Strategy of Latvia for 2019-2022’. The strategy describes cyber security context of Latvia, identifies future challenges and national cyber security policy priorities. Cyber security is part of comprehensive national defense system. Considering the potential national and social impact of cyber-attacks, cyber security is becoming more and more crucial in comprehensive national defense, which aims to engage every member of the society in defending Latvia against all types of conflicts, including both the military and non-military conflicts. Ministry of Defense and other competent authorities will have to complete specific tasks, for example, define security standards for cloud computing, smart devices and on-line services; develop recommendations for authentication of digital signature; raise public awareness on internet safety; educate public and local administration staff on ICT safety; strengthen the capacity of law enforcement community to prosecute cyber-crime [4].

  • Challenges of digital communication: preservation of democratic values and fight with disinformation

The communication of values is another challenge provided by digital communication technology, which is expected in 2020. Today’s international challenges are becoming more and more complex. Globalization and the development of new technologies has created strong mutual connections, but also a mutual vulnerability, and are seriously affecting foreign policy. The digital economy, digital tools, the digital world – this is the future of economic development. But it also poses a challenge to democratic values. The creation of new platforms for the flow of information and its transnational use make the boundaries between military and non-military threats to blur. Misused digital tools pose a threat to democracy (disinformation, spreading of false information, hacking and manipulating social media platforms, interfering with electoral processes, etc.). Social media manipulation become the new frontier for global powers seeking to influence elections, not only their own, but those of neighbors as well, polarize public opinion and side-track legitimate political discussions [5]. Latvia will be increasing the capabilities of responding to these challenges and preventing intervention in the national politics through the media by working with units that identify cases of disinformation, creating campaigns against “fake news”, stimulating media literacy in society and teaching critical thinking to young people.

Conclusion

The world is constantly changing, and humanity and states must be able to change along with it. Currently, Latvia’s image can be summarized as following: “Latvia would be regarded as a small state that is trying to jump into another weight category in the area of culture and which has a large and dynamic capital, which is a northern European transit center and is developing as a growing innovation center for education, ICT and health care.” [6] The challenges of foreign policy that Latvia will face in the future will require long-term strategies in all sectors of national importance as well as the creation of a stable economic, political and security environment.

To conclude, the foreign policy of Latvia in 2020 will be affected by mutual relations of super-powers such as China, USA and Russia; polarity of the world order; next steps in international politics made by Russia; joint priorities of European Union. However, foreign relations with Russia Latvia will build according to democratic values and its own national security priorities, no matter if some of its European allies will move towards closer cooperation with Russian Federation. The participation in international organizations and NATO alliance will be maintained as priority of Latvian foreign policy to save multilateral order. Cyber-security and battle with fake news and disinformation aimed to weaken the security of the state, will be high on agenda in 2020.

In short, Latvia will pursue a proactive, Euro-Atlantic, effective foreign and security policy.

REFERENCES:

[1] Latvian Foreign and Security Policy. Yearbook 2020

http://www.liia.lv/en/publications/latvian-foreign-and-security-policy-yearbook-2020-831

[2] Website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/62813-the-cabinet-considers-the-report-on-the-implementation-of-latvia-s-development-cooperation-policy-guidelines-for-2016-2020

[3] Website of Chancery of the President of Latvia. https://www.president.lv/en/news/news/the-president-of-latvia-cybersecurity-is-one-of-our-greatest-challenges-for-the-future-25408

[4] Website of Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Latvia.  https://www.mod.gov.lv/en/news/latvia-approves-new-cyber-security-strategy-2019-2022

[5] How Social Media Companies are Failing to Combat Inauthentic Behaviour Online. Prepared by NATO Strategic Communication Center of Excellence: https://www.stratcomcoe.org/how-social-media-companies-are-failing-combat-inauthentic-behaviour-online

[6] The Centenary of Latvia’s Foreign Affairs: Scenarios for the Future, http://www.liia.lv/en/publications/the-centenary-of-latvias-foreign-affairs-scenarios-for-the-future-760

Latvia external relations briefing: Latvian forests – Latvian Green Gold

More than half of Latvia’s territory is taken by Latvian forests, making Latvia one of the greenest countries in the world.[1] For this reason, wood processing plays an important role in Latvia’s economy, compiling approximately 20% of total exports in 2018.[2] Currently, there is a growing trend in Latvian tree exports: businesses offer new ways for efficient timber use and produce products with high added value. Overall wood-processing industries such as manufacturing of wood, cork products, manufacturing of paper and paper products, printing and reproduction of recordings, manufacturing of furniture are the common wood sub-industries in Latvia.

As most of the products produced by wood processing industry in Latvia are exported to other countries, various wood products form a significant part of Latvia’s exports. In general, Latvia’s wood export production can be divided into 2 large groups – raw materials and processed products. Analyzing the data since the beginning of 2000, it can be concluded that the proportion of processed wood production in Latvian timber exports is increasing. Producers appear to be offering customers higher value-added products.[3] Mostly Latvian timber products are exported to European countries as well as to Asia.[4] In 2019 around 40% of total exports of sawn timber materials were shipped to the UK. To countries such as South Korea, China, Germany, the Netherlands were exported around 5% materials of the total exports of the industry to each trading partner.

In the wood products sector, over the years, a bigger share of wood furniture in the total export of Latvia has emerged. The data shows that this production sector has been rising already for several years. The value of exported wooden furniture in 2018 reached about 170 million Euro.[5]Most wood furniture produced in Latvia is exported to Scandinavian countries – Sweden, Denmark. Exports of wooden furniture to Denmark reached around 23% of all but to Sweden about 10% of the total exports of wooden furniture. About 13% were transported to Germany.

In total, approximately 40-50 thousand inhabitants of Latvia work in the forest and wood processing industry. Forest industry workers represent approximately 7% of non-budget jobs in Latvia, and the taxes paid by them provide approximately 1/12 of the state’s economy. Timber is an important source of income for many residents of Latvia, particularly in rural areas – more than half of the wood processing industries are located outside cities,  and by that this economic sector is  stimulating and employing citizens living in the rural areas of Latvia.[6] As the wood processing industry is one of the most strategically important regional manufacturing in Latvia, many other industries, such as retail, transport are gaining more demand. Because of the timber processing sector, it is estimated to have resulted in an additional 30-40 thousand job places that are not related to the timber sector in Latvia.[7]

In the last 100 years, the total area of Latvian forests has risen almost four times, so Latvia has become one of the most forested countries, both in Europe and in the world.[8] In order to prevent forest pollution in Latvia, there is also a common forest clean-up every year, when thousands of people go to clean up the surrounding forests. Latvian forests mostly consist of trees such as spruce, pines, and birch. Property rights to forests in Latvia are distributed proportionally to the public and private sectors. 49% of all Latvian forests belong to Latvia’s state, while 48% belong to the private sector. Remaining of the share belongs to Latvian municipalities. Similarly, resource extraction from forests of Latvia is proportionally distributed – approximately half is gotten from the private sector and the other half from state-owned forests.

The attraction of investments in the timber production sector in Latvia is mainly driven by 4 factors – easy access to raw materials, average salary levels and foreign language skills of employed personnel, as well as attractive geographical location. About half of Latvia’s territory is covered by forests of various trees, mainly pines, spruce, as well as birch. Access to forests is very convenient, so raw materials are very easily available for the businesses.

Besides, different methods of transportation of the products are easily available in Latvia. Latvia is a suitable place for organizing transit and logistics between the European Union and Asian markets. Ports, railways, road transport operators, customs warehouses, logistic centers, and ship agents provide efficient and competitive services. The transit and logistics sector forms about a quarter of service exports in the Latvian economy.[9] Therefore particular attention at both national and business levels is paid to the transit sector and the major investments in transport infrastructure – ports, railways, and roads – are first invested directly in transit directions. In particular, rail and road transport services are most commonly used for products such as sawn timber, while ships or road transport services are used for the export of finished products such as furniture.

Latvia has one of the lowest salary levels in the European Union.[10] Despite this, approximately 96% of the population aged 25-64 have indicated that they know at least one or more foreign languages, which is the second-highest level in the European Union. For these reasons, Latvia is very attractive to investors because it has educated but at the same time cheap workforce. Cheap labor costs allow businesses in Latvia to spend more costs on upgrading manufactures, thereby increasing the efficiency of the company. Data shows that on average, one manufacture worker costs employers around 750-1000 EUR per month in cities, while around 500-750 EUR per month in rural areas.[11] Latvia offers many programs in the forest and wood processing industries at different levels of education – both professional and higher as well.

In recent years, the Latvian economy, including wood processing, has seen a more rapid increase in the share of production with higher added value than the average level in the EU countries.[12]For this reason, Latvia has a high potential for attracting investment and profitability, which is an important aspect of global competition for attracting new investments.

The manufacturing of timber furniture, as well as the manufacturing of paper and its products, currently has one of the biggest potentials for development in the wood-processing industries in Latvia. Approximately 20% of timber-processing companies in Latvia specialize directly in the manufacture of furniture, which is considered to be relatively high because the proportion of products produced on the Latvian market does not correspond to the possibilities for competitiveness in Latvia.[13] Therefore, the production of wood furniture is one of the sectors that both local and foreign investors’ eyes, to invest money in goods to increase export.

The smallest number of companies in wood processing is currently in the paper and its products industry.[14] As the availability of wood raw materials is very convenient in Latvia, and there is an increase in demand for different various timber products worldwide, the interest in the development of paper production manufactures is still ongoing among investors.

The amount of investments in the wood processing sector is increasing and new, large-scale investment projects are being developed. Most recently, the most ambitious investment project in the wood processing sector in Latvia took place in 2018, when one of the forest industry’s leaders “Kronospan Riga” invested around €100 million in the development of production.[15]

The purpose of this investment project was to increase the company’s competitiveness on the global market by increasing the availability of raw materials and by modernizing production techniques, thereby increasing existing production capacity, and increasing the efficiency of production processes. In addition, the company intends to invest in the development of more environmentally friendly technologies. As a result, the company will be able to use recyclable wood during the manufacturing process, which is an alternative and more efficient raw material. As well as the company intends to make significant investments in the development of the production process for wooden boards, thereby ensuring an increase in production capacity, the efficiency of the production process and improving the overall performance of the company.

The Latvian government was supportive of this investment project. The government plans to give the company a $20 million corporate earnings tax benefits after implementing the project to raise the company’s opportunities to compete globally.

“Wood-processing is the main engine of the manufacturing industry. Recent data also shows a continuation of the trend at the beginning of this year. In the past year, timber companies have made investments in the development of the sector, planning to invest also this year. This increases the share of high value-added products in the sub-sector,” stresses Finance Minister Janis Reirs.

[1]https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.FRST.ZS?view=map

[2]https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=2ahUKEwjGubX12NPmAhUlxaYKHcm8DgEQFjABegQIAxAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zm.gov.lv%2Fpublic%2Fck%2Ffiles%2Fskaitlifakti_LV_2018web.pdf&usg=AOvVaw32IPEukzXwpgPrUxVxY5o2

[3]Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

[4]https://eksports.csb.gov.lv/lv/products-selected/export/2019/sp_83/TOTAL

[5]https://www.diena.lv/raksts/latvija/zinas/koka-mebel-export-pern-increased-by-03-14214525

[6]Research on employed staff cost and foreign language skills in most competitive sectors of economy in Latvia by “Institute of Economics of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and CREATURA”

[7]https://www.lvm.lv/sabiedribai/meza-management/latvia-meza-sector

[8]Latvian State Forest Service

[9]http://www.sam.gov.lv/satmin/preview/?cat=112&action=print&

[10]https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Wages_and_labour_costs

[11]Research on employed staff cost and foreign language skills in most competitive sectors of economy in Latvia

[12]Research on employed staff cost and foreign language skills in most competitive sectors of economy in Latvia

[13]Research on employed staff cost and foreign language skills in most competitive sectors of economy in Latvia by “Institute of Economics of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and CREATURA”

[14]Lursoft

[15] https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/ekonomika/kronospan-riga-100-miljonu-eiro-investiciju-projekts-sanems-uin-atlaidi.a283301/

Latvia external relations briefing: The Government approves Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2020

On 3 March 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia approved the Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2020 drawn up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The Development Cooperation Policy Plan sets out specific measures for practical implementation of Latvia’s Development Cooperation Policy Guidelines for 2016–2020 to support less developed countries. It regulates the external relations of Latvia with EU Easter Partnership and Central Asia regions. The amount of 463,813 euros has been allocated in the MFA budget for the implementation of bilateral development cooperation measures in 2020 [1].

The goal of development cooperation is to aid poor and less developed countries by promoting their long-term social and economic human development, ensuring peace and security in the world. The new Cabinet Regulations, “Procedures for conducting grant project competitions”, have been developed pursuant to amendments to the Law on International Assistance that came into force on 13 February 2020. Amendments to the law making it possible to improve the planning and implementation of development cooperation activities, including the possibility of planning development cooperation activities for several years ahead.

The focus of the Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2020 [2] is on cooperation with EU Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries. As priority countries there are defined three Eastern Partnership countries: Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and three countries of Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.

The tasks of Development Cooperation Policy Plan are following: 1) to provide maximum support for the sustainable development of the EU Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries using instruments of the bilateral development cooperation funding managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; 2) to strengthen the implementation of the development cooperation priorities of Latvia within the scope of multilateral cooperation, particularly within the scope of the EU, UN, World Bank group, and OECD, thus promoting the coherence of the development cooperation policy of Latvia in all formats; 3) to strengthen the competence, coordination and sustainable activities of the developers and implementers of the development cooperation policy of Latvia; 4) to strengthen the transparency of the development cooperation of Latvia and its conformity with the international reporting standards; 5) to raise the public awareness of the importance of development cooperation, participation, and support for the implementation of the policy; 6) to implement a comprehensive and coordinated approach of Latvia for the support of sustainable development of partner countries. [3]

Support provided by Latvia to its cooperation partners in terms of the new Development Cooperation Policy Plan include support for the strengthening of judicial and interior system, particularly management and reforms of border security structures; strengthening of capacity of public administration; support for the decentralization process and strengthening of local/regional administration; combating corruption; support for the strengthening of export capacity and introduction of trade-related legal framework in practice in the field of agriculture, development of entrepreneurship; promotion of democratic participation and development of the civil society, including promotion of gender equality and opportunities for women; the development and administrative management of education policy, support for the improvement of education quality, including conformity with the requirements of the labour market, and monitoring, particularly in the field of vocational training.

In the Eastern Partnership countries priorities are the strengthening of territorial integrity of these countries and promotion of integration of the society. On March 16, together with the international community, while condemning Russia’s aggressive and illegal actions towards Ukraine and illegitimate annexation of Crimean Peninsula in 2014, Latvia claimed their support to the sovereign rights of Ukraine to choose the course of its domestic and foreign policy. [4] Latvia will continue providing political and practical support for Ukraine in the implementation of reforms. Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement on March 23, to reiterate Latvia’s full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, and remain deeply concerned over the continued occupation of the territory of Georgia. Latvia did not recognize the legitimacy of the presidential elections held in Georgia’s Abkhazia region on March 22, 2020 [5].

More than a half of the funds will be channeled into a grant projects competition and a competition to co-finance projects by civil society organizations that provide support and share Latvia’s best practices and lessons learned with the EU’s Eastern Partnership and Central Asian priority countries, thereby promoting sustainable growth and stability in those regions. As part of bilateral cooperation measures, taking-into-account Latvia’s expertise and the needs identified by partner countries, a training program will be run for the fifth consecutive year for representatives from some countries of European Neighborhood Policy (which covers Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine), Central Asia and Western Balkans.

For representatives from Ukraine, participation will also be ensured in the “Young professionals’ training programme” spring school. In addition, assistance will be offered to Ukraine in the field of agricultural development.

Capacity building among the Supreme Audit Institutions of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will be provided in cooperation with Sweden in 2020. Latvia will also support educational reforms in the Central Asian countries, including through different activities and projects under the EU-Central Asian Education Platform. This year, too, Latvia will continue sharing its experience and expertise with partner countries by participating in projects funded by other donors, for instance, the United Nations Development Program. Outreach measures will be supported in order to raise awareness among the general public of the development cooperation goals and policy. Support will continue for civil society organisations with the view of representing Latvia’s interests in EU-wide platforms of civil society organisations.

In 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has also raised the issue of increased funding for development cooperation and submitted a Conceptual Report “On an increased allocation of funding for development cooperation in 2021–2025” to the Cabinet. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasizes that increased funding for bilateral development cooperation is needed in order to promote the visibility of Latvia as a donor and enable a fuller utilisation in development cooperation of the expertise of Latvian public institutions, civil society organisations and the private sector.

Particular attention in the meeting of the Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy was paid to the work planned this year on drafting of the Development Cooperation Policy Guidelines for the next planning period 2021–2025. The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that the goal of Latvia’s development cooperation policy remains unchanged: to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in developing countries. Meanwhile, it is important to discuss future regional priorities, and in what way support provided by Latvia could be more focused and adapted to the present-day challenges: climate change, promotion of equality, and digitalization. Attention will also be devoted to engagement with the private sector and to building cross-sectoral partnerships, as well as to public outreach and global education. An inclusive process of consultation will be launched as early as at the end of March 2020.

Conclusion

The foreign policy of Latvia in March of 2020 has been focused on development cooperation sector. The objective of the development cooperation policy of Latvia is to promote sustainable development and eradication of poverty, rule of law, and good governance in developing countries, particularly in priority partner countries of Latvia. In order to promote the effectiveness of bilaterally provided aid, particular attention is paid to a limited number of countries. The EU Eastern Partnership and Central Asia regions have been determined as a priority in the development cooperation policy of Latvia, with special attention paid to Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.

Priority sectors of development cooperation of Latvia are development and strengthening of capacity of public administration, development of entrepreneurship and strengthening of export capacity, prevention and solving of conflicts, peace and security, promotion of democratic participation and development of the civil society, education, raising public awareness of development cooperation.

In its external relations with Eastern Partnership countries Latvia continue its policy of support for the territorial integrity of these countries and promotion of integration of the society. Latvia once again expressed the commitment to the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity since the annexation of Crimea, and showed support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, following statement on the non-recognition of the legitimacy of the so-called presidential elections in Georgia’s region of Abkhazia.

References:

[1] The Cabinet approves Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2020 and new procedures for conducting grant project competitions. Available at website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/65636-the-cabinet-approves-development-cooperation-policy-plan-for-2020-and-new-procedures-for-conducting-grant-project-competitions

[2] The Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2020. Available at: https://likumi.lv/ta/id/313030-par-attistibas-sadarbibas-politikas-planu-2020-gadam

[3] Development Cooperation Policy Guidelines for 2016-2020. Available at: https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/284775

[4] Latvia stands firm in its commitment to the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Available at website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/65747-latvia-stands-firm-in-its-commitment-to-the-restoration-of-ukraine-s-territorial-integrity

[5] Latvia joins the statement on the non-recognition of the legitimacy of the so-called presidental elections in Georgia’s region of Abkhazia. Available at website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/component/content/article/369-domestic-news/65769-latvia-joins-the-statement-on-the-non-recognition-of-the-legitimacy-of-the-so-called-presidental-elections-in-georgia-s-region-of-abkhazia?Itemid=353

Latvia external relations briefing: Latvia’s foreign policy priorities in April 2020 aimed at overcoming the COVID-19 crisis

The Foreign Ministers of the Baltic and Nordic countries emphasize the importance of regional co-operation in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis

In April 2020 minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia took part in video conference with other foreign ministers of Baltic and Nordic countries (N8)[1] to discuss Covid-19 limiting precaution activities and discussed regional cooperation opportunities to exit the ongoing crisis. During March 2020 and April 2020 Latvia has been actively working with Nordic and Baltic countries’ representatives to ensure the repatriation flights to Latvia. All foreign ministers of N8 have assessed the co-operation of the existing consular services of NB8 countries in organizing repatriation trips, as well as in providing transit opportunities for citizens to the country of residence.  However, it was noted that there is a need of more integrated and coherent solutions to ensure for the countries of the region to gradually emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. To ensure the emerge from the ongoing crisis it is important to regularly exchange with up to date information regarding on the reduction of restrictive measures so that the exit from the national and regional countries’ crisis would take place gradually and in a coordinated manner. The current priority for Latvia and N8 countries is to solve the questions regarding economic cooperation for the reduction of Covid-19 crisis. Meaning maintaining open borders for the movement of goods and services, as well as cooperating in the procurement of common medical goods. Recently the Baltic Foreign Ministers have discussed the option to re-open the Baltic boarders and it is foreseen that in the upcoming weeks the Baltic borders could be opened.

The Cabinet of Ministers approves Latvia’s solidarity contribution to the budget of the UN Office for Covid-19

On April 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the order “On Contribution to the Budget of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organization Global Humanitarian Aid Plan for Combating Covid-19” developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Funds for the contribution will be provided from this year’s budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[2]

According to the order, EUR 100,000 is to be paid for the operation of the United Nations and the World Health Organization’s Global Humanitarian Plan to combat Covid-19. With this input, Latvia shows solidarity with other countries affected by Covid-19, especially those whose capacity to respond to this crisis is limited. Latvia has responded to the United Nations Secretary-General’s call to invest in resolving the global consequences of the Covid-19 crisis and at the same time demonstrates Latvia’s solidarity in joint European Union action to contain the humanitarian crisis. By acting in solidarity and investing in reducing the spread of Covid-19, the far-reaching risk of the pandemic’s impact on Latvia will be reduced.

In response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus worldwide, in March this year the United Nations, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, called on all countries around the world to show solidarity in supporting the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in poor countries and territories affected by various humanitarian crises. The plan specifically provides support to vulnerable groups in addressing health and non-health needs.

Under the leadership of Latvia, the UN agrees on a common approach to financing for development in the Covid-19 crisis

On 27 April 2020, the United Nations Intergovernmental Conclusions and Recommendations on Financing Development were adopted unanimously in New York. The discussion was led by the United Nations representative of Latvia in New York. Latvia is elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council for the period from 2020 to 2022. Under the leadership of Latvian representative, the first online discussion in the history of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations was held since with the outbreak of pandemic transportation services are limited.  The outcome of the discussion provided first universal agreement of United Nations member states for joint action to fund Covid-19’s immediate consequences, as well as a long-term recovery.[3]

During the discussion, United Nations member states underlined their commitment to jointly fight the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences, to restore sustainable economic growth, to promote sustainable and inclusive recovery, and to strengthen resilience to similar crises in the future. Additionally, the importance of multilateral cooperation and concerted global action in tackling the crisis was confirmed by the representatives of member countries, emphasizing the role of the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization. In the conclusions the commitment to the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Program on Development Financing was underlined. United Nations member states recognize the many challenges facing the least developed and vulnerable countries in this crisis, including countries with poorly developed health systems and limited fiscal space. Under the leadership of the representatives of Latvia United Nation member countries came to joint agreement to continue to support the poorest countries of the world and to continue to implement United Nation sustainable development goals.

Minister for Foreign Affairs expresses his support for closer European Union cooperation withthe Eastern Partnership countries

On 22 April 2020, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics participated in the informal videoconference of the Council on Foreign Affairs of the European Union on European Union cooperation with Ukraine and the European Union Eastern Partnership countries. The meeting discussed issues related to European Union support for the Eastern Partnership countries to prevent the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic and preparations for the forthcoming Eastern Partnership summit, as well as the progress of reforms in Ukraine and the state of play regarding the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.[4]

Additionally, minister of Foreign Affairs expressed the support of Latvia the European Union’s solidarity with the Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, to fight against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as well as its consequences. The minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia noted that the European Union must continue to provide strong support to Georgia, particularly as regards the continued “bordering” process of Russian-backed separatists in the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as work on cooperation with Moldova and balanced access to relations with Belarus.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia confirmed Latvia’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Minister positively evaluated Ukraine’s progress in the reform process by adopting the Law on the Privatization of Agricultural Land for the Supreme Court and supporting the draft Law on amendments to improve the mechanisms for regulating banking activities at first reading. The Minister of Latvia stressed that Ukraine must continue the ongoing reform process, particularly in areas such as strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption. The Minister emphasized that the implementation of the Minsk Agreement is essential for the resolution of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and that the European Union’s sanctions policy must be maintained until Russia puts an end to violations of international law and implements the Minsk Agreement. The Foreign Minister also informed his European Union colleagues that Latvia would provide bilateral support to the European Union Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries in resolving urgent issues related to the Covid-19 crisis. Work will also continue previously planned cooperation projects for the Eastern Partnership countries in priority areas.

Conclusion

During April 2020 most of the foreign policy events and activities have been made in context of the outbreak of Coronavirus. In April 2020 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia together with the Foreign Ministers of other Baltic and Nordic countries discussed the need to cooperate on a regional scale to combat the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. During March 2020 and April 2020 Latvia has been actively working with Nordic and Baltic countries’ representatives to ensure the repatriation flights to Latvia. To ensure the safety of Nordic and Baltic countries’ citizens the Foreign Ministers of the countries have assessed co-operation to provide repatriation flights or other transit opportunities. In all, the overall priority for Nordic and Baltic countries is the regional cooperation and the reduction activities of Covid-19 crisis. To overcome the ongoing pandemic crisis the Cabinet of Ministers approved the solidarity of Latvia by contributing to the budget of the United Nations Office for Covid-19 by that expressing unity with other countries who have been deeply affected socially and economically and whose capacity and resources  to combat the crisis are limited. Additional development in April 2020 regarding foreign policy was that under the leadership of Latvia, the United Nations came to a common approach to finance the prevention activities of Covid-19. Under the guidance and leadership of the representatives of Latvia the member countries of United Nations came to an agreement for additional support to the poorest countries. During April 2020 Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his support to ensure closer European Union cooperation with the Eastern Partnership Countries. Additionally, from the behalf of Latvia the solidarity with the Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, to fight against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as well as its consequences was expressed.

[1] N8 consists of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

[2] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/aktualitates/zinas/65885-ministru-kabinets-apstiprina-latvijas-solidaritates-iemaksu-ano-humanas-palidzibas-koordinacijas-biroja-un-pasaules-veselibas-organizacijas-globala-humanas-palidzibas-plana-cinai-ar-covid-19-budzeta

[3] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/aktualitates/zinas/65936-latvijas-vadiba-ano-vienojas-par-kopigu-pieeju-attistibas-finansesanai-covid-19-krize

[4] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/aktualitates/zinas/65915-arlietu-ministrs-pauz-atbalstu-ciesakai-es-sadarbibai-ar-austrumu-partneribas-valstim

Latvia external relations briefing: Latvia lifts travel restrictions during the Covid-19 crisis and open borders between Baltic States

The unprecedented situation of the spread of the COVID-19 has created challenges for all states that will impact their economies and societies for the foreseeable time, and has highlighted the importance of cooperation between nations and governments, starting from close neighbours. Cooperation between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has been traditionally very close. It is based on common interests and goals of the three countries in foreign and security policy, fostering economic development, and cooperation in the European Union (EU). In May 2020, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia was working intensively in order to coordinate cooperation of three Baltics States and partners on the incremental easing of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania agree on actions needed to establish an area for freedom of movement

Latvian government has been cooperating closely with Lithuania and Estonia, so that an agreement with respect to the Baltic States internal borders can be finalized.  On May 6, Prime Ministers of all three Baltic States has agreed to reciprocally open the borders on 15 May 2020 to restore the movement for the three countries’ citizens, and persons legally residing in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “We unite three countries in one common space. It means that people from Lithuania to Estonia would travel through Latvia without restrictions and vice versa,”[1] said Prime Minister of Latvia Mr. Krišjānis Kariņš.

Decision to open the borders between the Baltic states was based on the similar epidemiological situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The understanding between the Baltic States on the journeys of their residents does not affect restrictions on entry set by other countries concerning the Latvian nationals. The external border with Russia and Belarus remains closed.

The prime ministers also discussed regional transport and energy infrastructure projects, which will play an important role in combating the effects of the Covid-19 crisis and the region’s economic recovery. Continued close cooperation at the regional, EU and global level and working jointly, step by step, remains the keyword, with common objective to being able soon to eliminate restrictions related to COVID-19, help to restore much needed economic activities and free movement throughout the EU and Schengen area as soon as possible, taking-into-account the epidemiological situation of countries and health requirements.

Latvia opens borders between Baltic States since 15 May

On 15 May 2020, the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Lifting of Travel Restrictions between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for Land, Rail, Air and Maritime Transport and Cooperation thereof during the COVID-19 Crisis, which provides agreement for removing restrictions on cross-border travel of persons between the Baltic States. During the meeting, the Foreign Ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have discussed cooperation between the Baltic States during the COVID-19 crisis, the recovery of regional economies and topics on the agenda of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council.

It was agreed by all three countries that, the nationals of the Baltic States and persons legally residing in the three countries may travel in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania without any restrictions since 15 May, provided that the person:

  • has not travelled outside the Baltic States for the last 14 days;
  • is not in self-isolation due to having tested positive for COVID-19 or having been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19;
  • has no symptoms of a respiratory infection[2].

The above-mentioned individuals are allowed to cross the Estonian-Latvian border and the Latvian-Lithuanian border in their own vehicle or using the passenger transportation services available. Such persons are exempt from the quarantine requirement both upon entering the neighbouring country and returning home. The nationals and permanent residents of Latvia who arrive in Estonia or Lithuania from other countries may cross the territories of Estonia or Lithuania in transit only and on the condition that they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

The air flights have been resumed between Baltic states, to Germany and Norway

With the introduction of a comprehensive epidemiological safety program #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling[3], Riga Airport will resume international passenger flights to Vilnius, Tallinn, Oslo and Frankfurt on Monday, 18 May. Four flights daily will be operated by the national airline airBaltic. After receiving a special permission from the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Latvia, airBaltic will also resume direct flights from Riga to Helsinki and Munich on May 25, 2020, and from Riga to Berlin on June 1, 2020.

The program #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling was introduced to provide a set of measures for the protection of the Airport and Airport employees and the safe handling of passengers in order to minimize the risks of the spread of COVID-19. In developing the program, the Airport has consulted with Latvian health authorities and taken-into-account the recommendations of international aviation organizations.

Latvian Foreign Minister takes part in a videoconference of the Council of the Baltic Sea States to discuss cooperation in regard with COVID-19 pandemic

On 19 May 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in a videoconference of the Foreign Ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) arranged by the Danish Presidency. The ministers were joined by the Secretary General of the European External Action Service.

The participants shared views on current cooperation and challenges in the Baltic Sea region, including in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and cooperation to address its consequences.

The Latvian Foreign Minister underlined the importance of the Roadmap of CBSS Reforms 2018–2020. The Roadmap underlined the need for the CBSS to become more flexible, innovative and productive, being able to cooperate with its partners in the region more closely and effectively, while retaining its ability to deliver concrete results in areas in which the CBSS is uniquely suited. The document underscored the high importance of regional cooperation formats.

Regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, participants underlined the importance of strengthened cooperation in the field of civil protection and encouraged the CBSS Civil Protection Network to focus on prevention, preparedness and relevant research actions. They also recommended continuing relevant cooperation through the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being. The Latvian Foreign Minister noted that exit from the current crisis must take place by both increasing economic growth and facilitating the achievement of goals in addressing climate change with a view to facilitating sustainable development of the Baltic Sea region.[4]

Baltic states and Germany talk over security matters

Latvia extended its cooperation also with Germany to tackle negative effects of the Covid-19 crisis. On 20 May 2020, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Baltic States and Germany held security policy consultations online. The consultations addressed the latest security policy related developments in the context of the upcoming German Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). The topics discussed were the development of the EU security and defense initiatives, strengthening of the EU’s crisis management capabilities, and security aspects of dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis not only in the Member States but also in EU neighbourhood. According to release, the participants were in complete agreement that the EU should continue strengthening its security and defense capabilities.  The consultations also addressed matters on the NATO agenda, including NATO’s role and action during the pandemic, and the reflection process to further strengthen the Alliance’s political dimension.[5]

Conclusion

As a consequence of measures taken by the states in recent months, progress towards countering the spread of the COVID-19 has been made and the gradual easing of restrictive measures has commenced. On 15 May 2020, the Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gathered in Riga to sign a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding on lifting travel restrictions between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for land, rail, air and maritime transport and cooperation thereof during the COVID-19 crisis. This memorandum is accompanying the decision initially taken by the three Baltic states’ Prime Ministers on 6 May 2020 to reciprocally open the borders on 15 May 2020 to restore the movement for the three countries’ citizens, and persons legally residing in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and respective individual decisions by the Governments of the Baltic states. Internal borders between Baltic states were open and flights to several directions gradually resumed. Latvia has also continued its cooperation with Council of Baltic Sea States and Germany to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

References:

[1] Prime Ministers agree to allow free movement of citizens between Baltic States since 15 May (in Latvian): https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/latvija/premjeri-vienojas-no-15-maija-atlaut-iedzivotaju-brivu-kustibu-baltijas-valstis.a358688/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news

[2] Memorandum of understanding of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Available:

https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/66003-memorandum-of-understanding-of-latvia-lithuania-and-estonia

[3] Riga Airport website: https://www.riga-airport.com/press-room-2/news-2/riga-airport-resumes-flights-in-the-conditions-of-increased-epidemiological-safety/en

[4] Bornholm Declaration. Available at: https://www.cbss.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Bornholm-Declaration.pdf

[5] Baltic states and Germany talk over security matters. Available: https://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/diplomacy/baltic-states-and-germany-talk-over-security-matters.a360687/

[1] https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/latvija/premjeri-vienojas-no-15-maija-atlaut-iedzivotaju-brivu-kustibu-baltijas-valstis.a358688/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news

[2] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/66003-memorandum-of-understanding-of-latvia-lithuania-and-estonia

[3] https://www.riga-airport.com/press-room-2/news-2/riga-airport-resumes-flights-in-the-conditions-of-increased-epidemiological-safety/en

[4] https://www.cbss.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Bornholm-Declaration.pdf

[5] https://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/diplomacy/baltic-states-and-germany-talk-over-security-matters.a360687/