Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Brian E.Carlson, Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of Latvia
October 17, 2001
In the past 36 days we have all learned a lot about what it means to serve our country we ve learned from firemen, from emergency medical technicians, from soldiers and sailors, and from ordinary people who
turned out to be extraordinary Americans. So, it is with renewed appreciation that I am here today to seek your and the Senate s approval as the President s nominee as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia.
Latvia is a small nation of 2.5 million people. Since regaining independence in 1991, this Baltic country has undergone a remarkable transformation. Latvia today has emerged as the region s commercial,
financial and transportation center. Latvians re-established functioning democratic and free market institutions after decades of Soviet mismanagement.
Demonstrating a principled commitment to human rights, Latvia s leaders have liberalized naturalization procedures and put in place the rule of law.
Sustaining solid, annual GDP growth rates of 6-7 percent, Latvia has a strong and freely convertible currency, and they privatized most small and medium-sized enterprises and farms. Latvia is important as a model for growth out of the post-Soviet condition and integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Latvia is also important as an example of the moral and material commitment our friends and allies are giving us since the September 11 attack. Not only has the government of Latvia offered sympathy and support to America (including the Prime Minister s personal visit to our embassy on September 12), but Latvia has taken steps to improve its own anti-terrorist coordination, to tighten its own border controls, and to share sensitive information with us. They have said Yes to everything we ve asked.
As a schoolboy, I learned about the United States commitment to Latvia and other Baltic nations. During fifty years of Soviet occupation, we refused to recognize the incorporation of the Baltic states into the USSR. Then, we stood the vigil for the reestablishment of Baltic freedoms. Now, through the U.S.-Baltic Charter and our Northern Europe Initiative, we are helping Latvia and the other Baltic republics become the best possible candidates for European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. By promoting regional integration, we can ensure that Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania maintain their independence, their security and their prosperity. President Bush said in Warsaw, Every European nation that struggles toward democracy and free markets and a strong civic culture must be welcomed into Europe's home. All of Europe's new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom&.
In a career of postings abroad and in Washington, my work has been mainly in Eastern and Western Europe.
My focus has been on using Euro-Atlantic institutions such as NATO, the EU, and the OSCE to achieve America s goals. In August 1991 I was fortunate to be able to help re-establish America s information, exchange and education programs in the Baltic states. I believe strongly in the power of a well-informed public and in the persuasiveness of the American ideal. The new American diplomacy can change outcomes.
I had the privilege to work with the Latvians and other peoples in the region to consolidate democracy and promote free market principles. If confirmed, I will work with this Committee and the Administration to strengthen every aspect of the U.S.-Latvian relationship. Latvia is again at a pivotal moment in history, and for me the possibility of taking a hand in achieving American goals in this momentous era is exciting..
Over the years, I have often told fellow Americans that there is no greater honor than to represent our nation abroad whether as an artist in an international festival, a business leader at a conference, or a Fulbright scholar in a university. But clearly, to serve as Ambassador of the United States of America is a special trust. My wife, Marcia, and I, with the warm support of our daughter, Marinn, and our families, would be honored to dedicate ourselves to this task, should the Senate confirm me.
I thank you, the Chairman and the members of the Committee, for your consideration of my nomination. I would welcome a chance to hear your views and reply to your questions.