Relations between Latvia and Finland

02.12.2014. 19:09



The relations between Latvia and Finland are based on mutual interest and frankness. The Latvian and Finnish co-operation has mainly focused on the promotion of Latvia's integration into the EU, strengthening the internal security, sovereignty and democratisation, supporting the improvement of administrative capacities.

Finland is one of the EU member-states which owing to its geopolitical situation and historical experience has the best understanding on Latvia's foreign and security policy priority - soonest possible integration of Latvia into the European Union. Finland supports the accession of the Baltic States to the EU as it will broaden the space of security and stability in the region. This support was also confirmed by inviting Latvia to start the EU accession negotiations by the Finnish EU presidency in December 1999 in Helsinki.

The experience of Finland as a comparatively new EU member-state (since 1995), including the experience of carrying out the EU accession negotiations and the successful raising of public awareness on the EU is very useful for Latvia's EU integration process.

Chronology of Diplomatic Relations

Finland recognised de iure independence of Latvia on January 26, 1921. The diplomatic relations were renewed on August 29, 1991. The Embassy of Finland was re-opened in Riga on October 1, 1991. The present Ambassador of Finland to Latvia is H.E. Mr. Hannu Hämäläinen. Currently Ambassador of Latvia to Finland is H.E. Mr. Valdis Krastins (since June 8, 2000).

Latvian - Finnish Co-operation Programme

The assistance of Finland is being implemented mainly in the framework of the Co-operation Programme between Latvia and Finland. The annual Programme is elaborated by the Foreign Ministry of Finland in co-operation with the Ministry of Finance of Latvia and sectoral ministries. It is signed each year. The assistance Finland has provided to Latvia in the period from 1992 to 1999 reaches the amount of FIM 236 million (approximately LVL 23.6 million).

The Co-operation Programme for 1999-2000 envisages the assistance to the bilateral Latvian-Finnish projects in the amount of FIM 12.4 million and the assistance to the joint projects with the Baltic States in the amount of FIM 6.2 million.

Priority areas are the support to the integration into the EU (in the field of justice and home affairs), environmental protection, promotion of sovereignty and democratisation; improvement of public administration.

Economic Co-operation

In 1999 Latvia's foreign trade turnover with Finland reached the amount of LVL 176 million or 6.4% of the total turnover. The most important products Latvia is exporting to Finland are: wood and wooden articles (30.4 %), textiles and textile production (29.6 %), The most important products Latvia is importing from Finland are: machines, mechanisms, electrical appliances (40.6%), paper and cardboard (9,5%). Finnish companies Sonera, Neste, Enso etc. have invested considerable sums in Latvia. It is very significant that Finland has begun to invest in the financial sector (Merita Bank). There are 304 joint Latvian-Finnish ventures registered in Latvia. Their total investment value reaches Ls 28.3 million, USD 1.3 million and 1.1 million in other currencies. In 1999 the actual Finnish investments reached Ls 39.8 million.

The Finnish company Metsaliitto International Ltd. participates in the development of the pulp mill project in Latvia. The total amount of investments is planned to be in the amount of USD 0.9 billion and the capacity of the mill is planned to be 600 thousand tons of bleached wood pulp a year.

Taking into account Finland's internationally recognised success in IT field (NOKIA, Elcoteq), Latvia is interested in development of co-operation with Finland. Besides, the government of Latvia pays a political attention to the IT sector as a perspective direction of the economic co-operation between Latvia and Finland. During the visits of Prime Minister of Latvia Mr. G. Krasts in 1998 and the Prime Minister of Latvia Mr. V. Kristopans to Finland in 1999 both state officials meet the representatives of NOKIA and Elcoteq.

Justice and Home Affairs

Latvian-Finnish priority is the co-operation in consolidation of Latvia's eastern border, the field where the experience of Finland is very relevant for Latvia. Co-operation with the Finnish border guards facilitates the development of Latvia's eastern border in accordance with the requirements for the external borders of the EU. Since 1997 Finland has provided significant bilateral assistance mainly in the training of the border guards, establishment of service of dogs for border guards and material assistance.

Finland also provides important practical support to Latvia in other EU III Pillar fields: training of the medium level police personnel, training of rescue service, training of judges and project of the development of court system, implementation of legislation on refugees.

Environmental Protection

Since 1992 Latvia and Finland have developed an active and productive co-operation. During this period it has received investments in the technical assistance projects as well as environmental investments in the amount of more than LVL 6 million. The support of Finland is focused mainly on the projects aimed at prevention of air and water pollution and the waste recycling. The biggest projects are: Project of Riga water and environment project, Daugavpils sanitation system project, Liepaja environmental project, Programme 800+.

Culture

Helsinki and Riga are chosen as Culture Cities of Europe in 2000 and 2001, respectively. This provides basis for expanded co-operation in future. While Helsinki celebrates the 450th anniversary this year, Riga will celebrate its 800th anniversary in 2001.

Museums

Close co-operation has been established between the museums of Latvia and Finland. On September 22, 1999 the exhibition "The Winter War of Finland from 1939 to 1940" was opened in the War Museum of Latvia.

Literature and Publishing

In 1997 the book by H.E. Anna Zigure and Latvian poetry volume (by Uldis Berzins, Guntars Godins, Andris Akmentins, Inguna Jansone etc.) were published. According to the data of the Institute of Bibliography five books - translations from Finnish - were published in Latvia in 1998. The publishing house Norden has published Finnish-Latvian, Latvian-Finnish dictionary.

Rozentals Society in Finland (Helsinki)

Established in 1990 and headed by the historian of science Mr. Anto Leikola, the foreign member of the Academy of Science of Latvia. The President of Latvia Ms. Vaira Vike-Freiberga paid a visit to the Rozentals Society on August 30, 1999 during her working visit to Finland. The President got acquainted with the achievements of the Society in popularising the culture-historical heritage of Latvia in Finland and shared her opinion on the activation of future co-operation.

Latvian -Finnish Society (in Riga)

Established in 1998 upon the initiative of Mrs. Anna Zigure, former Latvian Ambassador to Finland, and the Rozentals family. The society is headed by Mr. Atis Rozentals. Since 1995 The Society organises annual Finnish Culture Days, this year the event is taking place on June 8-12 in

Jurmala, Latvian sea-side resort. Concerts by several Finnish choirs ("Cantarelli", "Lira"), exhibitions, theatre performances and numerous other activities will take place during the festivity. The aim of the Culture Days is strengthening of the culture identity of Latvian and Finnish peoples, presenting the originality of Finnish culture in Latvia and facilitation of contacts among people of arts and culture.

Recent Visits

Visits of Latvian Delegations to Finland:

July 15 - 17, 1998

Working visit of the Prime Minister of Latvia Mr. G. Krasts to Finland

February 9, 1999

Bilateral meeting of the Prime Minister of Latvia Mr. V. Kristopans and the Prime Minister of Finland P. Lipponen in the framework of the meeting of 5+3 Prime Ministers in Helsinki.

June 14, 1999

Working visit of the Prime Minister of Latvia Mr. V.Kristopans to Finland.

August 30 - 31,1999

Working visit of the President of Latvia Mrs. V. Vike-Freiberga to Finland

September 28, 1999

Working visit of the Foreign Minister of Latvia Mr. I. Berzins to Finland

Visits of Finnish Delegations to Latvia:

August 1- 2, 1998

Private visit of the President of Finland Mr. M. Ahtisaari to Latvia in the framework of the annual festivities of the Livs in Mazirbe.

Jaunuary 11, 1999 Official visit of the Foreign Minister of Finland Mrs. T. Halonen to Latvia.

July 14, 1999

Working visit of the Foreign Minister of Finland Mrs. T. Halonen to Latvia.

Intergovernmental Agreements

  • Agreement on Promotion and Mutual Protection of Investments (in force since 1992)

  • Convention on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Tax Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (1994)

  • Agreement on the Co-operation in the Fields of Culture, Education and Science (1996)

  • Agreement on the Co-operation in Prevention of Crime (1997)

  • Agreement Regarding Re-admission of the Persons whose Entry or Residence is Illegal (1997)

  • Agreement on Abolition of Visa Regime (1997)

  • Agreement on the Social Insurance (2000)

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