Bilateral Relations

30.09.2020. 17:23

 1920px Flag of Latvia.svg800px Flag of the United Kingdom.svg

Centennial of Latvia-United Kingdom Diplomatic Relations in 2019

In 2019, Latvia and the United Kingdom marked 100 years of bilateral diplomatic relations. On January 6, 1919, Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics appointed Georgs Bisenieks as the official diplomatic representative to London. The United Kingdom was the first to recognize a Latvian diplomatic representative with a temporary status. 

On January 21, 2019, a diplomatic relations centennial reception was held at the historical hotel The Langham from where Meierovics worked as the diplomatic representative of the Provisional Government of Latvia. 

Bilateral Agreements between Latvia and the United Kingdom

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History of Diplomatic Relations

Relations between what is currently Latvia and the United Kingdom had been developing many centuries before the existence of a sovereign Latvian state. The first contacts mentioned in the written sources date back to the 9th Century.

Although trade links and random visits have taken place in all the following centuries, it was in the 17th Century when relations between England and the Duchy of Courland (Western part of Latvia) considerably expanded both economically and politically. The Duchy of Courland had diplomatic and consular representatives in London and Newcastle during the reign of Duke Jacob. The Duchy of Courland attained the rights for the Caribbean island of Tobago in accordance with the Agreement between Duke Jacob and King Charles II. Trade links remained strong in the following centuries, with cooperation in the shipbuilding industry being the most significant.

The United Kingdom was the first country to recognize the independence of Latvia de facto on November 11, 1918, a week before the Republic of Latvia was proclaimed. The participation of the UK military forces in the battles for the liberation of Latvia, which took lives of numerous British soldiers, is one of many reasons why the Latvian society perceives the UK as a country amicable to Latvia. At the beginning of 1919, when Latvia was occupied by the Bolsheviks, the British ship "Saratov" stationed in Liepāja for a short period became a shelter for the temporary Government of Latvia and its head Mr. Kārlis Ulmanis. On January 26, 1921, the UK recognised the independence of Latvia de iure.

After the occupation of Latvia by Soviet army on June 17, 1940, Kārlis Zariņš, Ambassador of Latvia in London, was representing the Government of the Republic of Latvia in Western Europe. In May 1940, when the national security situation became uncertain the Government assigned Ambassador Zariņš extraordinary powers. Thanks to the patriotism and tireless efforts of Zariņš and other diplomats the Latvian Representation in London remained open during the entire occupation period of Latvia. Therefore, continuation of de iure existence of the Republic of Latvia was preserved. The United Kingdom was one of the countries that never recognized the occupation and incorporation of Latvia into the USSR.

At a time when Latvia regained its independence in the early 1990s the representation was headed by Mrs Marie-Anne Zariņa, daughter of Ambassador Zariņš. The first extraordinary and plenipotentiary Ambassador of Latvia after regaining of independence was Mr Jānis Lūsis.

On August 27, 1991, jointly with other member countries of the European Community, the United Kingdom recognized the restoration of independence of the Republic of Latvia, and as early as October 8, the first Ambassador of the UK Mr Richard Samuel arrived to Latvia to open the British Embassy.