On 24 January at the Foreign Ministry, to commemorate the 93rd anniversary of de iure international recognition of the Republic of Latvia, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs festively launched two exhibitions: an exposition arranged by the Latvian State Historical Archives, "Jacob, Duke of Courland and Semigallia (1610–1681): International Relations" and a review prepared by the Foreign Ministry, "International Agreements of the Republic of Latvia". The minister accentuated in his address to the audience that the past year had been very successful for Latvia's diplomacy.
The minister offered gratitude to diplomats for their dedication and true enthusiasm while doing the work important for Latvia both in this country and representing its interests abroad. The minister emphasised that this year we are to prepare for Latvia's presidency of the Council of the European Union and expressed confidence that Latvia would reliably perform that duty. In the conclusion of his address, the Foreign Minister wished success to all the foreign service staff.
Acting under the Prime Minister's authority, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs presented Cabinet of Ministers Certificates of Recognition and Foreign Ministry Certificates of Recognition.
What is common between the centuries so distant in time? Exciting history and "an international agreement".
The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1561–1795), despite being a fief of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, soon became an equal subject of international relations in Europe of the day. It was an example of statehood in the territory of present-day Latvia.
Due to Duke Jacob Kettler's (1610–1681) economic and diplomatic activities, in the mid-17th century the name of Courland became known across the world and as far as the coasts of Africa and America.
To mark the 370th anniversary of day Duke Jacob entered into his first international agreement (the treaty, signed in Paris by the Duke's envoy and the foreign minister of France on 30 December 1643, granted the Duke the right of free trade in France, and also gave him the right to buy estates and lands in France), the Latvian State Historical Archives offer an insight into Duke Jacob's international relations, and present unique evidence from the archive holdings.
The exhibition shows dozens of documents (mainly originals), including the original of the abovementioned treaty with France.
Themed sections of the exhibit look at Duke Jacob's efforts to reconcile Poland-Lithuania with Sweden, his relations with France, England and Russia, and the attempts to get foothold in the Gambia and the Island of Tobago.
The most interesting and historically valuable items include the map of Tobago and the plans of forts build on St Andrew's Island – so far unknown to the historical science.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers an exhibit of Latvia's international agreements signed in the inter-war period and these days.
The first international agreements concluded by the state of Latvia were those with Estonia and Lithuania on loans and border delimitation. Provisional agreement between Latvia and Germany (15.07.1920) and the Peace Treaty between Latvia and Russia (11.08.1920) had a great international significance.
When announcing Latvia's de iure recognition at the meeting of the Constitutional Assembly on 18 February 1921, Foreign Minister Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics also formulated a major foreign policy task – "to forge closer ties with foreign countries by entering into international agreements with them".
Latvia set out to join international organisations and conventions: in September 1921, the Republic of Latvia became a full member of the League of Nations and the International Labour Organisation, and in summer 1921, Latvia joined the current universal postal, telegraph and radiotelegraph conventions. 114 collective conventions were in force in the inter-war period from 1921 to 1940, and 18 multilateral treaties and 253 agreements with 35 countries were signed. The agreements governed the matters of key importance for the state in politics, economy, transportation, commerce, and consular and international affairs.
The exhibition displays pictorial copies of the interbellum period international agreements, the originals of which are stored in the Latvian State Historical Archives.