On 26 October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a discussion to share views on the accessibility for the Latvian diaspora of the information and services provided by the state, activities planned in the field, opportunities for further cooperation and closer mutual coordination.
Taking part in the discussion were representatives from the MFA, the State Regional Development Agency (SRAD) and a state-owned company “Latvijas Vēstnesis”, the official publisher of Latvia. The discussion was opened by Atis Sjanīts, Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), who thanked the makers of the portals Latvija.lv and lvportals.lv for their work invested in communication with Latvians abroad by publishing information of high relevance for the diaspora in various life situations.
Representatives of the portals were informed that the strengthening of cooperation with the diaspora is one of the foreign policy priorities pursued by the MFA. Information exchange and cooperation with public institutions are vital aspects in support of this priority. For instance, e-services offered by the Latvija.lv portal are important both for people in Latvia and many members of the diaspora; however, not all of them know about opportunities offered by the portal and not all potential users of the portal’s services have access to a Latvian internet bank or an e-signature. In view of this, the MFA has been involved in dealing with this matter and in a discussion on the benefits of introducing the one-stop-shop principle to ensure that all members of the diaspora have access to information and e-services. At the same time the MFA is emphasising the need for a targeted policy in achieving these aims whilst avoiding duplication of activities.
Daina Ābele, Chairperson of the Board of “Latvijas Vēstnesis”, informed those present about the company’s plans to develop two-way communication with members of the diaspora through an informational section entitled “The State and the Diaspora” on lvportals.lv. The ways of further joint activities in communication with Latvians living abroad were identified, and the participants highlighted the preparation of information content and listing the sources of information on issues important for the diaspora as well as seeking new forms of communication.
LVportal.lv has become highly popular not only in Latvia, where, according to the data of Gemius market research agency, it is visited on the average by 170 000 Latvian internet users, including Latvian communities abroad. For instance, 210 000 visits to the portal from abroad have been registered this year, including 45 000 from the United Kingdom, 31 000 from Germany (Google Analytics). The portal provides information on the rights of Latvian nationals in Latvia by answering important questions in the e-advice section. The main task of the portal is to ensure direct provision of state-related information.
Representatives from the SRDA told the participants about the latest updates on the Latvija.lv portal, which offers information on services provided by public administration and on e-services, and also information in various fields to many Latvians living abroad, including what they need to know in the re-migration process. The portal makes sure that the published information is up-to-date and has high-quality content, and it also maintains a section for compatriots abroad, “Return to Latvia”. The number of visits to Ltavija.lv pages has already reached 19 266 282 this year, and out of those, 1 052 211 were hits from abroad.
The participants of the discussion were unanimous about the importance of access to information and agreed that all the stakeholders should cooperate closer, seeking solutions to ensure that information and services are accessible for the diaspora.