Mr. Tim Bennett,
Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat,
Members of Trans-Atlantic Business Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the Embassy of Latvia!
It is my utmost pleasure to meet all of you tonight. In three years time, Latvia will mark her centenary anniversary since she regained her independence. Our relations with the US are of about the same age. This means that the Embassy has been present in the US for roughly the same amount of time. The Transatlantic relations during the Cold War included that the US never recognized the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union.
For this reason, it is simple to comprehend why my country without any doubt stands among the firmest supporters of a strong Transatlantic link. A bond that serves well for security needs of allies on both sides of the Atlantic. And that reflects a constant evolution of the global order.
What do I mean by that? The relationship between Europe and the US, as we know it today, in many ways was a result of two things:
First, the very unique history of the United States and its western value system that embraced the destinies of so many immigrants of European origin as a result of the historic political rivalries among a number of European nation states.
Second, two very catastrophic World Wars that, at the end, brought the US and Europe under a collective security umbrella of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
For more than half of a century, NATO provided and still provides security for European nations so vital for the wellbeing of Europe. But this is not enough in today’s World - a world of unprecedented technological progress, shared around a globe, that releases initiative, economic growth and international influence in countries and regions that were considered weak not that long ago.
So for the Transatlantic community to stay relevant and to be able to make a decisive impact on the international stage during this century, we need few things to add:
First – establish a genuine business interdependency between the Transatlantic energy sectors.
Second, agree on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement. It is a Historic Opportunity that should not be missed.
And third – Europeans, including my own country, should take more seriously our security challenges and contribute more to the Transatlantic security.
These are the three most important strategic elements to add to the existing Transatlantic relationship.
Although it is said that the US is pivoting to Asia, with some obvious domestic challenges , majority of candidates for 2016 presidential elections are pivoting around Transatlantic relations. I do not think that it is just because of the composition of the US electorate.
Europe and the US remain each other’s most important markets, most important trade partners and investors, and the source of technology flows. Combined the Transatlantic community is the largest and wealthiest market in the World.
But, the Transatlantic community’s global economic preeminence is shifting to one of predominance. So, it is in our hands to take care of our interests and move forward.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A strong and meaningful Transatlantic relationship is not possible without visionary and politically bold leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a commodity that unfortunately is of short supply these days.
Therefore I am very delighted to introduce the next speaker – Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat.
Ambassador Eizenstat is a true and powerful advocate of a strong Transatlantic link.
Under the Clinton Administration he served as Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State of Holocaust-Era Issues, providing belated justice for victims of the Holocaust and other victims of Nazi tyranny during the WWII. He successfully negotiated major agreements with a number of European countries, covering restitution of property, payment for slave and forced laborers, and recovery of looted art.
Ambassador Eizenstat has been awarded high civilian awards from a number of European governments. He has been highly recognized by the US Administration. In 2007, he was named : The Leading Lawyer in International Trade” in Washington DC by Legal Times.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I kindly ask Ambassador Eizenstat to deliver his address tonight. Dear Stue, welcome, the floor is yours!