[FPN] No. 68, 1 - 5 June 2009

08.06.2009. 12:45

LATVIA TODAY: FOREIGN POLICY NEWS

1 - 5 June 2009

No. 68


HEADLINES

Highlights    

Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins: enhanced competitiveness and Business environment in Baltic Sea Region - priority on CBSS agenda

Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins expresses Latvia's readiness to support EU membership of Iceland

In brief

Speaker of Saeima, Gundars Daudze, congratulates Polish people on anniversary of democratic elections

Centenary of philosopher Isaiah Berlin marked in Riga

HIGHLIGHTS

Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins: enhanced competitiveness and business environment in Baltic Sea Region - priority on CBSS agenda

On 3-4 June Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins took part in the 15th Ministerial Session of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in Elsinore, Denmark. As part of their discussions, the ministers reviewed the results achieved in the area of regional co-operation during the Danish presidency, granted new countries the status as observers to the Council, thus further enlarging the organisation, as well as set new priorities.

In his address, Foreign Minister Riekstins emphasised that the capabilities by the CBSS to take forward the initiated reforms and its readiness to focus efforts on key priorities will be a significant contribution to the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea Region, when facing future challenges.

The Foreign Minister of Latvia noted in particular the need for regional co-operation and the dialogue in the energy sector, which is one of the CBSS long term priorities. Minister Riekstins indicated that the declaration on single Baltic energy market signed recently by the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as the development of a unified Baltic energy market interconnection plan are significant tools for the integration of the Baltic and Nordic energy markets.

The CBSS and other regional organisations should pay greater attention to raising competitiveness, enhancing the business environment and economic co-operation in the region as well as to the improvement of cross-border infrastructure and to the issues of civil security, including crime prevention, Foreign Minister Riekstins emphasised.

During the Danish Presidency, the implementation was launched of the Declaration on the Reform of the CBSS adopted in Riga by the CBSS Summit on 3 June 2008. Within a year, new Terms of Reference of the CBSS and of its Secretariat were drafted and adopted, as well as principles and guidelines for the involvement of third parties. Three permanent CBSS working groups were dissolved or restructured into expert groups with clearly specified and achievable tasks and timeframe. From 1 July, Belarus, Spain and Rumania are to become observers to the CBSS.

Lithuania will take over the CBSS Presidency from Denmark on 1 July. As its priorities, Lithuania has proposed innovation, cross-border co-operation, security in the Baltic Sea Region and environmental issues, as well as an active involvement of the Kaliningrad Oblast and Belarus in the implementation of the region's joint priorities.

On 3 June, the CBSS Ministerial Session in Elsinore was also attended by former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga as a guest of honour, who spoke in her address about past challenges and future prospects for the Baltic Sea countries.  

Declaration of the 15th CBSS Ministerial Session, Elsinore 4 June 2009 (complete text in English)

Read

MFA, 4 June 2009

CBSS

Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins expresses Latvia's readiness to support EU membership of Iceland

On 3 June Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins met with the Foreign Minister of Iceland, Össur Skarphéðinsson, to discuss Iceland's eventual accession to the European Union. The meeting was held at the initiative of the Icelandic side during the CBSS Ministerial Session in Elsinore, Denmark.

During the discussion Foreign Minister Skarphéðinsson informed about the Government's Proposal for a Parliamentary Resolution on Application for Accession to the European Union submitted to the Parliament end of May, urging the legislators to support the opening of the EU accession negotiations. The Government hopes to receive political support as early as within the nearest weeks. Mr. Skarphéðinsson emphasised that if the proposal is approved the EU membership application could be submitted already in July this year.

Minister Riekstins noted during the meeting that Latvia is following with great interest the debate in Iceland and reiterated support to the EU accession process given that Iceland's legislation already meets most of the accession criteria and Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area.

"Latvia has consistently advocated the continuation of the EU enlargement process following the fulfillment of criteria. The key to a successful accession process is the support by the Presidency and the Commission. If the Icelandic Government will receive a strong endorsement from the Parliament and will submit an EU membership application, the Latvian side is ready to share its experience with negotiations," Minister Riekstins emphasised.

Iceland was the first country to officially recognise the independence of the Republic of Latvia in August 1991. Diplomatic relations between Latvia and Iceland were renewed on 22 August 1991.

Read 

MFA, 4 June 2009 

IN BRIEF

Speaker of Saeima, Gundars Daudze, congratulates Polish people on anniversary of democratic elections

On 2-3 June, the Speaker of the Saeima, Gundars Daudze was on a working visit to Warsaw, to take part in the events, devoted to the 20th anniversary of democratic elections in Poland. The elections to the Polish Sejm in 1989 were the first post-war democratic elections in Eastern Europe. "The 1989 elections in Poland turned a new leaf in the history of Europe as a whole. The words "Poland", "Solidarnosc" and "Lech Valesa" were in the newspaper headlines the world over. News from Poland reached Latvians even under the conditions of the Soviet regime censorship – we saw that it is possible to oppose and defeat the regime," Speaker of the Saeima, Gundars Daudze accentuated.

When addressing the deputies of the Polish Sejm and the leaders of other parliaments, Gundars Daudze emphasised that "the determination, success and victory over the communist power inspired also the national resistance in Latvia and in the Baltic as a whole, which lead to the breakup of the Soviet empire. We called this movement of non-violent resistance the Singing Revolution or the Third Awakening. I am convinced that the inspiring events in Poland played a major role in the victory of our Third Awakening". He also expressed gratitude towards the Polish diaspora in Latvia for its support to the restoration of Latvia's independence.

"We have had the opportunity to be present at the events which brought about huge change in Europe and even in the world. We have personally experienced this change and have taken part therein. It can be said with certainty – it is we who have brought about these changes.

Mr Daudze emphasized that the choice by the Easter European nations and by Soviet-occupied countries in favour of democracy and freedom has been the right choice: "Membership by Latvia, Poland and our other neighbours in the European Union and NATO, co-operation in economy and in other fields are proof of our ability to come to terms on key issues, of being both independent within a strong community of countries and protective of our national distinctiveness and traditions, and of reaching an agreement for the solution of common problems, for instance, joining efforts to handle the global crisis."

The Saeima Speaker congratulated the Polish people and everybody present on the anniversary of democratic elections and wished "to make all effort so that it would be clear for our peoples, even after a decade, that the choice made in 1989 in favour of freedom and their homeland had been the only right one."

The 1989 elections to the Sejm were the first postwar democratic elections in Eastern Europe.

The official celebration held by the Polish Government in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, the native place of John Paul II, was attended by the heads of governments of Central European and Baltic states. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis was represented in the events by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Poland, Alberts Sarkanis.

The memorial events for the 1989 elections on June 2-3 were organised by the Sejm and the Senate of Poland. They were attended by speakers and representatives of 25 Parliaments, including the Speaker of the Latvian Saeima, Gundars Daudze.

Read

The Saeima, 1- 3 June 2009

Embassy of Latvia to the Republic of Poland, 4 June 2009

The Institute of National Remembrance - Commission of the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation

Centenary of philosopher Isaiah Berlin marked in Riga

On 1 June in Riga, a conference dedicated to the centenary of philosopher Isaiah Berlin (1909 – 1997) was launched in Riga, and the Isaiah Berlin Auditorium was opened at the faculty of Social Sciences, University of Latvia.
"One of the greatest thinkers, born in Riga, who over the course of his lifetime has experienced many, also deeply tragic, events," was the characteristics given to Sir Isaiah Berlin by Latvia's former President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, patroness of the Berlin's Centenary Fund, at the opening of the conference.
Mrs Vike-Freiberga recognised that she felt a certain emotional relationship with Berlin due to the fact that both had left Latvia as children. The audiences and the conference, however, attested that a certain connection and interaction between great thinkers and places. " [..] Berlin's immense intellectual contribution generated in Britain is partly also our own. Riga remembers Isaiah Berlin and wants to be a part of his life."
Rector of the University of Latvia, Professor Marcis Auzins, when greeting the participants, referred to Isaiah Berlin as Latvia's distinguished son.

"In May 1959 Charles Snow delivered a lecture entitled Two Cultures, in which he reviewed the relationship between science and arts," Prof. Auzins said. "Isaiah Berlin also dealt with the topic in his discourse. I believe that this still is a live issue and I hope that the present conference could be the forum to examine the relationship between science and art."

Mr Auzins also informed that a month ago the Senate of the University of Latvia passed a resolution to award the title of the Doctor honoris causa Universitatis Latviensis to two prominent scholars, Isaiah Berlin and Paul Walden, who in their time for certain reasons had not received this proof of appreciation.
"We are in the Maskavas Priekspilseta, a district where the Riga ghetto was once located. Now the area is home to one of the Baltic's largest institutions of social sciences. This is yet another fragment of our contradictory history," said Inta Brikse, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Latvia. "The newly opened Isaiah Berlin's Auditorium is not just a room - we see it as an excellent venue for thinking about society and its future. And we have to bear in mind the excellent opportunity – it is a place for free thought.

At the opening event, the Executive Director of the Soros Foundation Latvia, Andris Aukmanis expressed gratitude to all those who had helped implement the project, and emphasised that Berlin's ideas of pluralism, tolerance and liberalism are appropriate instruments to address contemporary problems.
On 6 June, Berlin's birthday, the National Library of Latvia received Berlin's bust by sculptor Anthony Stones.

University of Latvia

Berlin in Riga, Centenary Home Page

COMING EVENTS

12 – 14 June 2009

Participation by President Valdis Zatlers in the informal meeting of presidents of 8 European countries (The Arraiolos Group) in Naples, the Republic of Italy.

11 – 12 June 2009

Working visit to Latvia by Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, Mr Andrius Kubilius.

10 – 11 June 2009

Working visit to Stockholm, the Kingdom of Sweden, by Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins.

LINKS:

http://www.president.lv

http://www.saeima.lv

http://www.mk.gov.lv

http://www.am.gov.lv


The newsletter "Latvia today: foreign policy news" is a compilation of press releases and news reports drawn from the media and official sources. The views published do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs