From February 6-7, 2020, Latvian Honorary Consuls in the United States gathered for their annual meeting to Washington, DC. This year’s special guests were the Chair of the Saeima (Latvian Parliament) Foreign Relations Committee Rihards Kols and Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Science Reinis Znotiņš. Both members of the parliament invited the honorary consuls to continue strengthening ties with state representatives in the US Congress and state level elected officials. Currently there are 86 members in the House Baltic Caucus and the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus. In the past year, 13 new members joined these groups.
In the past year the honorary consuls have made significant contributions in facilitating Latvian-US business ties, supported the Latvian film industry presence in the US, even produced Latvian film. They have also cosponsored cultural exchanges and projects, as well as such mass events as the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. The honorary consuls have organized many visits with US local leaders and promoted cooperation with Latvia in all government levels. This year’s meeting also included discussions about economic cooperation – specifically the high tech industry. A rather successful Latvian company Printful presented their work and plans in the US. Latvian telecommunications company LMT talked the development of the IT industry in Latvia, and the industry’s potential for exports. The Latvian University Fund also provided updates.
The Honorary Consuls had the chance of meeting US State Department and American Latvian Association representatives. A special treat was getting the rare chance of meeting two outstanding Latvian basketball players Dāvis Bertāns and Anžejs Pasečņiks who play for the Washington Wizards.
Honorary Consuls are unpaid representatives of Latvia, and some fulfill limited consular functions. Latvia has 19 honorary consuls in the United States – in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Utah, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington State, as well as in Southern Californian and the City of New York.