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 .
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  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. 
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.  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 .
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.
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.
 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
 The Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2020. Available at: https://likumi.lv/ta/id/313030-par-attistibas-sadarbibas-politikas-planu-2020-gadam
 Development Cooperation Policy Guidelines for 2016-2020. Available at: https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/284775
 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
 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
*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute