Bilateral relations between Latvia and the Netherlands

09.06.2016. 12:33

Latvia and the Netherlands have established close and friendly bilateral relations characterized by regular political dialogue and an intensive collaboration within the European Union (EU), NATO and international organizations. The ministers from Baltic and Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg) countries regularly meet within the “3+3” framework. In addition, the two.

 

DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

Historical ties between Latvia and the Netherlands date back approximately 800 years. Yet, official diplomatic ties were formally established only by the 5th March, 1921, following the international recognition of the Republic of Latvia de jure. During the interwar period Latvia had five diplomatic envoys to the Netherlands, whereas, the Netherlands had three ambassadors to Latvia.

The first diplomatic representative of Latvia designated to the Netherlands was Oļģerts Grosvalds residing in Paris from 1921-1924 He was superseded by Pēteris Sēja from 1924-1925. Oskars Voits became the first Latvian Envoy to the Netherlands in 1925. Residing in Berlin he remained in office until 1932 superseded by two Latvian Envoys as follows. Edgars Krieviņs served two terms from 1933-1935 and 1938-1940. During the intermission between 1935 and 1938 Latvia was represented to the Netherlands by Hugo Celmiņš.

Initially the Dutch Ambassadors to Latvia resided in Copenhagen, Denmark. The first Dutch Ambassador to Latvia was Willem L.F. Ridder van Rappard who held the position for 15 years from 1922 to 1937, followed by Hendrik V.G. Ridder Huyssen van Kattendyke during 1937-1939. During the period from 1939 to 1940 Lennert Pieter Johan de Decker was the first Dutch Ambassador residing in the established permanent Dutch representation agency in Riga, Latvia.

As a consequence of Latvia’s de facto annexation to the Soviet Union, the official diplomatic relations between the Republic of Latvia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands were suspended on the 13th August, 1940 for more than 50 years.  On 10th July, 1942 the Netherlands established diplomatic relations with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). During the Soviet regime, Latvian diplomats in exile continued to actively support the Latvian refugees in the Netherlands. Albeit lacking any formal diplomatic status, the Latvian diplomats endeavoured in informal advocacy for an independent Latvia. Until 1978 interests of the Republic of Latvia and its people in the Netherlands were represented by Bruno Pavasars, who was the pre-war Latvian Consul-General in Rotterdam. Following his death, the unofficial representation of Latvia in the Netherlands was taken over by Irene Ahlers.

Following the Latvian proclamation on the restoration of independence on May 4, 1990, the Netherlands recognized the renewed Republic of Latvia on August 17, 1991. In December, 1996 the first embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Baltic States began to operate in Riga, Latvia. The embassy was officially inaugurated in October, 1997 with the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands participating in the official ceremony. As of August 25, 2015 the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Latvia is H. E. Mr. Pieter Jan Langenberg.

Dutch   Ambassadors to the restored Republic of Latvia:

1991–1995

Count   Lambert de Marchant et d’Ansebourg –   residing in Stockholm, Sweden

1995–1996

Johan Bast – residing in Stockholm, Sweden

1996–2000

Lodewijk   van Ulden – residing in Riga, Latvia

2000–2004

Nicolaas   Beets – residing in Riga, Latvia

2004–2008

Robert   Schuddeboom – residing in Riga, Latvia

2008–2012

Jurriaan   Kraak – residing in Riga, Latvia

2012-2015

Hendrik   Gerrit Cornelis van den Dool – residing in Riga,   Latvia

The embassy of Latvia in the Netherlands located in The Hague was officially opened in January, 1998. Further information about the former Latvian Ambassadors to the Netherlands can be found here .

As of 9 September, 2015 the Latvian Ambassador to the Netherlands is H.E. Mrs. Ilze Rūse.

The Latvian embassy staff and Honorary Consuls of Latvia in the Netherlands .

PARLIAMENTARY CO-OPERATION

Both countries conduct a regular exchange of parliamentary visits . The Committees for Foreign and European Affairs of Latvia and the Netherlands have established successful framework for collaboration via the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union – COSAC. In addition, consistent political dialogue takes place through the “3+3” framework for meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Baltic States and Benelux countries.

On January 14, 2015 the 12th Latvian Parliament (Saeima) established the group of Members of Latvian Parliament  for a bilateral inter-parliamentary collaboration with the Dutch Parliament (States General). The current Head of the group of Members of Latvian Parliament is Aleksejs Loskutovs.

ECONOMIC RELATIONS           

Traditionally, the Netherlands is a significant economic partner for Latvia. The roots of economic relations between the two countries date back to 13th – 17th century cooperation within the framework of the Hanseatic League and cities. The past trade between port cities like Riga, Amsterdam and Groningen stimulated prosperous economic growth for Latvia and the Netherlands alike.

Today Latvia continues to emphasize its interest in developing ever-closer economic relations with the Netherlands. In particular, Latvia seeks to achieve a balance of trade in order to enable high value-added export to the Netherlands. With the aim of enhancing Dutch-Latvian business relations, since 2004, the embassy of Latvia in the Netherlands hosts the Representative Office of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA), whereas, in 2003 the Netherlands-Latvian Chamber of Commerce (NLCC ) was opened in Riga.

During the final quarter of 2015 the trade in goods between the Netherlands and Latvia increased by 13.16% reaching 646.94 MEUR. The Netherlands ranked 9th place among countries importing goods from Latvia. Latvia’s export to the Netherlands sums up to 2.53% from the national aggregate export quantity. By the end of 2015 Latvia’s income from export to the Netherlands totals in 241.466 795 EUR. In comparison to 2014 Latvia’s export volume to the Netherlands increased by 33.34% or 60.38 MEUR. During the last quarter of 2015 the Netherlands ranked 8th place among countries exporting goods to Latvia. Latvia’s import from the Netherlands adds up to 3.64% from the national aggregate import quantity, constituting 405.479 905 EUR. In comparison to 2014 Latvia’s import volume increased by 3.80% or 14.84 MEUR. Accordingly, Latvia’s current account deficit in trade of goods with the Netherlands sums up to 164.01 MEUR.

Main Latvian export goods to the Netherlands: timber and its by-products (30.99%); plant products (16.10%); animals and livestock products (14.72%); machinery and electrical equipment (17.53%); minerals and mineral products (6.51%).

Main export goods to the Netherlands in 2015 divided on a type per type basis

Timber and its by-products

-            Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise

-            Plywood, veneered panels and similar   laminated wood

-            Packing cases, boxes, crates, drums and   similar packings of wood

-            Particleboards

Plant products

-            Rape or colza seeds, whether or not broken

-            Wheat and meslin

-            Barley

Animals and livestock products

-            Meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled

-            Cheese and curd

-            Milk and cream, concentrated or containing   added sugar or other sweetening matter

-            Butter and other fats and oils derived from   mil; dairy spreads

-            Live bovine animals

Machinery; electrical equipment

-            Telephone sets

-            Bookbinding machinery, including book-sewing   machines

-            Centrifuges including centrifugal dryers;   filtering or purifying machinery and apparatus, for liquids or gases

-            Automatic data-processing machines and units   thereof

Minerals and mineral products

-            Petroleum oils and oils obtained from   bituminous minerals

-            Peat, whether or not agglomerated

Main Latvian import goods from the Netherlands: machinery and electrical equipment (30.22%); plant products (15.22%); products of the chemical or allied industries (12.17%); prepared foodstuffs (9.77%); plastics and articles thereof including rubber and articles thereof (6.15%).

Main import goods from the Netherlands in 2015 divided on a type per type basis

Machinery; electrical equipment

-            Telephone sets

-            Automatic data-processing   machines and units thereof

-            Electronic integrated   circuits

Plant products

-            Other live plants

-            Tomatoes, fresh or chilled  

-            Fresh cut flowers and   flower buds of a kind suitable for bouquets or for ornamental purposes,   fresh, dried, dyed, bleached, impregnated or otherwise prepared

-            Fresh apples, pears and   quinces

-            Dates, figs, pineapples,   avocados, guavas, mangoes and mangosteens, fresh or dried

-            Other vegetables, fresh or   chilled

Products of the chemical or allied industries

-            Medicinal products

-            Human blood; animal blood   prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses

-            Anti-knock preparations, oxidation   inhibitors, gum inhibitors and viscosity improvers

Prepared foodstuffs

-            Malt extract

-            Cigars, cheroots and   cigarettes, of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes

-            Oilcake and other solid   residues, whether or not ground or in the form of pellets, resulting from the   extraction of soybean oil

-            Food preparations not   elsewhere specified or included

-            Preparations of a kind   used in animal feeding

-            Undenatured ethyl alcohol

Plastics and articles thereof; rubber and articles   thereof

-            Amino-resins, phenolic   resins and polyurethanes, in primary forms

-            Other plates, sheets,   film, foil and strip, of plastics, non-cellular and not reinforced, laminated  

-            Polymers of ethylene, in   primary forms

-            New pneumatic tyres, of   rubber

-            Articles for the   conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics

-            Other articles of plastics   and articles of other materials

-            Polyacetals, other   polyethers and epoxide resins, in primary forms; polycarbonates, alkyd   resins, polyallyl esters and other polyesters, in primary forms

Latvia is an attractive business partner with regard to its effective structural reforms following the recession caused by the global financial crisis, as well as, the lasting determination to achieve the highest European standards of welfare and economic indicators. World Bank’s study Doing Business 2015 ranks Latvia in 23rd position among 189 countries. Latvia holds 9th place among the EU countries in the assessment of entrepreneur-friendly environment.

Habitually, the Netherlands is one of the biggest sources of foreign direct investment in Latvia, constituting substantial contribution to the Latvian economy. During the second quarter of 2015 the Dutch investments in Latvia added up to 1 billion EUR, placing the Netherlands second after Sweden (2.51 billion EUR). To date, the largest Dutch investments are made in the following sectors: production of building materials; real estate management; motor vehicle sales; retail trade; fuel retail sales; and extraction of natural gas and oil.

 

DEFENCE CO-OPERATION

The cooperation in the fields of defence between the two respective EU and NATO members is based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia and the Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed on 19 September, 2008 in London, UK. It aims to enhance and deepen the collaboration among the signatories’ national defence organs within the frameworks of NATO and the EU. The document establishes a comprehensive framework by determining practical guidelines. It comprises implementation principles for common military programmes, outlines the applicable jurisdiction and rules of conduct, regulates financial provisions, and determines the scope of mutual defence capacity-building vis-à-vis exchange and protection of classified information.

Since 2016 residing in The Hague, Lt.-Col. Benedictus Rijnenberg is accredited as a Defence Attaché to Latvia. The Dutch Defence Attaché is the highest appointed military representative of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, the Royal Netherlands Navy, Army, Air force and Marechaussee (Military Police) in the Republic of Latvia, serving as a point of contact for all Latvian with respect to the defence issues. Likewise, since 2003 residing in London, UK, Lt.-Col. Vitauts Mihailovskis is accredited Defence Attaché of Latvia to the Netherlands.

Latvia and the Netherlands jointly participate in several international peace support missions and military operations within the frameworks of NATO and the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). In addition, Latvia and the Netherlands collaborate in the development and strengthening of the NATO and EU multinational armed forces via emergency preparations and military exercises. Furthermore, the two countries reinforce their readiness for modern security challenges by jointly participating in multilateral research programmes.

Overview of Latvia’s participation in recent International peacekeeping operations. 

Further information about the Dutch participation in recent International peacekeeping operations.  

 

TRANSPORT

There are regular passenger traffic connections between Latvia and cities in the Netherlands (The Hague, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Breda). airBaltic airline provides daily direct flights on the route Riga – Amsterdam - Riga.

 

REGIONAL CO-OPERATION BETWEEN MUNICIPALITIES

Latvia and the Netherlands have established several contacts for a regional collaboration. Latvia has long-lasting relations with the Overijssel province in the Netherlands, whereby, representatives from a wide range of sectors facilitate cooperation and the exchange of best practices in the fields of justice, environmental protection, waste management, and eco-tourism.

Several municipalities of Latvia and the Netherlands have established twinning arrangements: Riga with Amsterdam, Ērgļi region with the Oststellingwerf municipality, Talsi region with Raalte municipality, Ogre with Hengelo municipality, as well as, Sigulda with Meersen within the framework of the European Town Twinning Association - Douzelage

 

CO-OPERATION IN CULTURE AND EDUCATION

EDUCATION

Cooperation takes place through both international multilateral projects and bilateral exchange of best practices among research institutions.

Latvian and Dutch institutions of higher education actively collaborate within the EU policy frameworks and programmes for education, science, research and innovation. Many Latvian higher education institutions have signed cooperation agreements with the Dutch Universities, in order to facilitate the exchange of students, scientists and academics. During the 2014/2015 academic term 64 Latvian students participated in exchange programmes offered by Dutch Universities, in turn, Latvian Universities welcomed 45 Dutch exchange students. Large numbers of young Latvian students also choose full-time Bachelors’ and Masters’ programmes in the Dutch Universities.

Cultural education

Within the framework of Erasmus exchange programme, Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music (JVLMA) has signed bilateral cooperation agreements with all of the prominent Conservatories and Music Academies in the Netherlands (The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Maastricht, and ArtEZ School of Music branches in Arnhem, Enschede and Zwolle). As a result, the densest sample of Erasmus students from JVLMA is in the Netherlands (approximately 70 students in 2016).

Since September, 2013 Latvian Academy of Culture offers Bachelor students courses in Dutch language and culture. The applicants without preliminary proficiency in Dutch can choose a sub-programme “Intercultural Relations” providing preparatory Dutch language courses and education on Dutch-speaking regional geography and history. In turn, the Art Academy of Latvia collaborates with the Aki/ArtEZ Academy of Visual Art and Design in Enschede and the Design Academy Eindhoven. On 22 October, 2014, the former Ambassador of Latvia to the Netherlands – Māris Klišāns – met with Latvian students from the Design Academy Eindhoven to discuss the commonalities and differences between educational systems of Latvia and the Netherlands. The former Ambassador also viewed the dissertation projects by Jasmīna Grase, Mārcis Ziemiņš and Beāte Šņuka exhibited during the Dutch Design Week.

CULTURE

The Latvian-Dutch cooperation in the field of culture is based on the links of their historical heritage and mutual professional incentives. It is conducted through bilateral, as well as, international multilateral projects.

Creative industries

In January, 2016 Groningen hosted the 30th annual festival and the largest conference for music industry in Europe - Eurosonic Noorderslag. The event organized 175 panel discussions gathering approximately 4.000 representatives from the music industry. Latvia was represented by the Marketing Project Leader of the Riga Tourism development Bureau Foundation (“Live Riga”), Ieva Lasmane and the expert of international data-gathering from the Latvian Performers and Producers Association (LaIPA), Raitis Zgirskis.

Within the framework of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, during 11-12 March, 2015, the National Library of Latvia in Riga hosted an international conference – “Cultural and Creative Crossovers: Partnering culture with other sectors to maximize creativity, growth and innovation”. The conference aimed to emphasize the importance of creative industries on other economic sectors.  It was attended by several Dutch experts in the field, and the Director General of the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, Marjam Hammersma participated in the policymakers’ roundtable discussions.

On 11 March, 2015 the Europol Headquarters in The Hague opened the photo exhibition “Wonderful Latvia” (Brīnišķā Latvija) by Arnis Kalniņš and Juris Kalniņš. On 20 February, 2015 the Europe House in The Hague opened the photo exhibition “Riga from above” (Rīga no augšas) by architect Jānis Dripe, pilot Jānis Andersons and photographer Juris Kalniņš. In addition, on 19 March, 2015 the French Institute of Amsterdam hosted an exposition “Art Nouveau architecture: Riga” (Jūgendstils: Rīga), whereas, in December the Embassy of Latvia to the Netherlands displayed drawings by Latvian children participating in the art competition: “Sunrises in faraway lands” (Trejdeviņas saules lec).

Music

On 25 February, 2016 the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra – “Brass Band” welcomed the Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Chamber Philharmonic der Aa Groningen, Joost Smeets during his stay in Latvia. On 25 May, 2015, Liepaja Symphony Orchestra (LSO) signed an agreement with the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) to implement a project (co-funded by the ERDF) - “the promotion of Latvia’s symphonic music export towards foreign markets.” With this regard, in 2016 the LSO has initiated partnership with Dutch artists to develop a common project.

On 13 January, 2016, during the Eurosonic Noordeslag festival in Groningen, the First Vice-President of the European Commission – Frans Timmermanss - presented the prestigious European Border Breakers Award (EBBA) to the Latvian band “Carnival Youth” placing them among the 10 best European bands. In addition, the band also received the Public choice award.

Within the framework of the Cultural programme for the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in 2015 the embassy of Latvia to the Netherlands in partnership with the embassies of Italy and Luxembourg organized a concert for the ensemble “Trio Colorato” in the “Church of Our Saviour” in The Hague. Likewise, the Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons conveyed a concert by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in their music-hall in Amsterdam.

In 2015, the Latvian embassy in the Netherlands organized a recital for the world-renowned Latvian opera singer Inese Galante in connection with the 96th anniversary of the Republic of Latvia coinciding with the successful conclusion of the Riga’s title of the European Capital of Culture in 2014 and preparations for the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In addition, during 2015 Latvian Radio Choir (LRC) gave 6 concerts in the Netherlands, namely Tilburg, Rotterdam, Groningen, Eindhoven, and Limburg. During March, 2014, the LRC performed a concert “Nature of War” (KARA DABA) in Zvolle and Den Bosch while in September the choir participated in the Sacral Music Festival in Maastricht.

Museums

Preparing for the centenary anniversary of proclamation of the Republic of Latvia (in 2018), during the spring of 2016 embassy of Latvia in the Netherlands launched a thematic programme - “Traces of Latvia in the World” (Latvijas pēdas pasaulē). The project organizes several events highlighting prominent historical periods of Latvian-Dutch relations to depict their mutual heritage.  Initiating the programme, on 9 April, 2016 the embassy of Latvia in the Netherlands within its premises opened the exhibition “Latvia-Netherlands ties throughout the centuries” (Latvijas-Nīderlandes saiknes cauri gadsimtiem). The event includes a guest lecture by the Director of Rundāle Palace Museum, Imants Lancmanis, on the mutual heritage of Latvia and the Netherlands with regard to their17th century historical ties.

The Mentzendorff’s House (MH) – a branch of the Riga Museum of History and Navigation – protractedly collaborates with number of museums in the Netherlands. In 2016 the MH hosts an exhibition and organizes a conference “Tulips in the garden, art and design”.

Archives

During 2006-2007 the National Archives of the Netherlands initiated, co-ordinated and financed the multilateral project “Baltic Connections”, in order to uncover the archives of the common past of the countries around the Baltic Sea during the period 1450-1800 including the history of Latvian-Dutch trade relations. Among the project’s partners were Latvia’s State Historical Archives. As a result of the successful partnership among National and State Archives from countries of the Baltic Sea region, a 2.320 pages long historical guidebook is available in print, as well as, digital format on the project’s website.

In 2006, under the auspices of the Dutch embassy in Riga the Latvia’s State Historical Archives participated in the production of the book Beyond Traditional Borders: Eight Centuries of Latvian-Dutch Relations. The book was published to celebrate the state visit by Her Majesty the Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Latvia in the context of the 85th anniversary of the official diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Libraries

The National Library of Latvia (Gaismas Pils) in Riga has a well-established partnership with the National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) in The Hague. During their cooperation the National Library of Latvia has organized an exhibition in The Hague. In turn the Director of the National Library of the Netherlands, Vim van Drimmelen is a member of the UNESCO International Experts Committee for the project of the National Library of Latvia. As a consequence, the National Library of the Netherlands supports the Latvian partners by providing expertise through consultations on operational matters, such as, methodological management of facilities, digitalisation of archives, maintenance of premises, and advice in further construction of the National Library of Latvia.

MOST SIGNIFICANT VISITS AND MEETINGS in international conferences/forums

Heads of the state

May 22-24, 2006

The Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of the Netherlands state visit to Latvia

January 18-19, 2005

President of the Republic of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga official visit to the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Speakers of the parliament

August 21, 2006

Dutch House of Representatives Speaker Frans Weisglas working visit to Latvia

February 16-19, 2006

Parliament Speaker of the Republic of Latvia Ingrida Udre working visit to the Netherlands

June 2-5, 2004

Dutch House of Representatives Speaker Frans Weisglas working visit to Latvia

September 23-26, 2001

Parliament Speaker of the Republic of Latvia Janis Straume official visit to the Netherlands

 

Prime ministers

April 26, 2004

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Jan Peter Balkenede working visit to Latvia

October 29, 2001

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Wim Kok official visit to Latvia

October 22-24, 2000

Prime Minister of Latvia Andris Berzins official visit to the Netherlands

March 14-16, 1994

Prime Minister of Latvia Valdis Birkavs official visit to the Netherlands

 

Ministers of Foreign Affairs

October 12, 2009

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Maxime Verhagen visit to Latvia

April 26, 2009

Meeting of the Baltic and Benelux states Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Luxembourg

March 31, 2009

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Maris Riekstins working visit to the Netherlands. Participation in the International Conference on Afghanistan

October 1-2, 2008

Meeting of the Baltic and Benelux states Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Estonia

October 2-3, 2007

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Maxime Verhagen visit to Latvia. Participation in the meeting of the Baltic and Benelux states Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Jurmala. Bilateral meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Dr. Artis Pabriks

May 22-24, 2006

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Bernard Rudolf Bot visit to Latvia within the framework of the Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of the Netherlands state visit to Latvia

March 8, 2005

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Bernard Rudolf Bot working visit to Latvia

September 9, 2003

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Jaap de Hoop Scheffer working visit to Latvia

March 10-12, 2003

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Sandra Kalniete visit to the Netherlands within the framework of inauguration of the International Criminal Court

June 13, 2001

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Indulis Berzins working visit to the Netherlands

October, 1997

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Hans van Mierlo visit to Latvia. [Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was officially opened]

April 15-16, 1993

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Pieter Hendrick Kooijmans official visit to Latvia

February 11, 1991

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Janis Jurkans visit to the Netherlands

SOURCES OF INFORMATION

 

Most significant bilateral agreements between the Republic of Latvia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Database of bilateral agreements

Useful links about the Netherlands:

The Royal House: http://www.koninklijkhuis.nl/

The Senate of the Parliament: http://www.eerstekamer.nl/

The Lower House of the parliament: http://www.tweede-kamer.nl/

The Netherlands Government: http://www.government.nl

The Netherlands Foreign Ministry - http://www.minbuza.nl

The Statistics Netherlands (CBS): http://www.cbs.nl/en-GB/default.htm?languageswitch=on