Ambassador Māris Selga: defense cooperation between Latvia and the U.S. has continued to strengthen during President Trump’s administration

16.09.2019. 20:45

On 16 September 2019, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Latvia to the United States of America, Māris Selga, submitted his letters of credence to the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

In his remarks to the U.S. head of state, Ambassador Selga noted that in three years both countries would mark the centennial since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The United States have always strongly supported the uninterrupted continuity of Latvia’s statehood.

Today both countries are strategic NATO allies and close partners. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation for the fact that during the current Administration our defense cooperation has been strengthened further. Latvia contributes 2% of GDP to its own and collective defense, and takes part in international missions. Latvian men and women stand shoulder to shoulder with U.S. service members in Afghanistan and elsewhere in a common fight against international terrorism. 

The persistent rotational presence of U.S. troops in our region is of great importance to Latvia. Both countries share experience and take part in joint exercises strengthening collective defense of NATO. Latvia expresses strong support for the continuation of the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI).

The Ambassador also recalled Baltic and U.S. Presidents’ Summit at the White House in 2018 – the year when Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania marked their centennials since independence. A declaration on this occasion was adopted emphasizing cooperation in defense, economy, and people-to-people contacts. The document is an important roadmap for future cooperation.

Ambassador Selga said that he is proud of Latvian companies investing in the United States. American investors have contributed to the growth of the Latvian finance sector. The technology company Microsoft, for example, has deployed its Northern European innovation center in Latvia. There is potential for more cooperation – the Rail Baltica high-speed railway project connecting the three Baltic capitals offers opportunities.

Latvia has continued improving its business climate and has enacted significant finance sector reforms, which were also discussed during the recent visit of Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’ to the United States. In July, he met with Vice President Pence, as well as the Treasury, Commerce and Energy Secretaries.

President Donald Trump in his remarks to the Ambassador remembered the Baltic-US Presidents’ Summit at the White House last year when Latvia marked 100 years of independence. He also noted that both countries share a robust commitment to security. The President said that Ambassador Selga arrives in Washington at a critical time in our efforts to address malign influence. The U.S. head of state appreciated Latvian government’s recent positive steps to combat corruption in all sectors and encouraged further engagement with the U.S. Government on how it can support this effort. President Trump sees Latvia as one of the most reliable allies in NATO, and he noted that the U.S. commitment to Article 5 remains ironclad. He appreciated Latvia’s spending of 2% of GDP to its security and Latvia’s leadership in pressing other NATO allies to meet this goal. The President said he was looking forward to working with the Ambassador on enhancing strong economic ties between both countries. President Trump also recalled the recent meeting in July between Latvian Prime Minister Kariņš and U.S. Vice President Pence in Washington, DC.

Ambassador Selga’s career in Foreign Service began in 1994 in the Planning Group. He has held various posts in the capital of Latvia, Riga, and has been posted as well to Denmark and the United States of America. From 2008 to 2012, he was Latvia’s Ambassador to Egypt. From 2016 until summer of 2019, he was Latvia’s Ambassador to China.

Māris Selga succeeds Andris Teikmanis, who had been Ambassador to Washington, DC since the autumn of 2016.

 


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