Latvia’s Ambassador to the United States Andris Teikmanis was in Chicago on April 15 to open Latvia’s Honorary Consulate in the State of Illinois. As of this year, the Latvian Honorary Consul in Illinois is American Latvian Mr Ēriks Kalniņš.
During the opening ceremony Ambassador Teikmanis highlighted the close ties between Latvia and Illinois in the areas of business and culture. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Latvia’s annual export to Illinois is approximately 15 million USD. Illinois, especially the area in and around Chicago, is home to over five thousand people of Latvian heritage.
Sen. Dick Durbin, co-chair of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, also attended the opening event. There were more than one hundred guests – other honorary consuls, as well as state and city representatives.
Honorary Consul Ēriks Kalniņš is an American attorney of Latvian heritage. He is one of the founders of the Latvian-American Chamber of Commerce, Latcham. He holds a BA from Augustana College, as well as law degrees from the Western Michigan University and DePaul University. In addition to his business interests and law practice, he enjoys classical music. He is a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and the Chicago Yacht Club.
Mr Kalniņš succeeds the previous long time honorary consul Mr Roberts Blumbergs.
Honorary Consuls are unpaid Latvian representatives, some of whom also manage limited consular functions. Latvia has 20 Honorary Consuls in the United States – in Alaska, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Utah, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington, as well as Northern California, Southern California, and the City of New York.