Latvia remains consistent supporter of ENP and enlargement

Latvia
Latvian Institute of International Affairs
 
Despite the difficult situation in Georgia after the military conflict of August 2008, which will probably have an indirect – possibly also direct – impact on both the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the enlargement of the Union, Latvia remains a consistent supporter of both the ENP and the idea that the EU should not close its doors to new and worthy members. EU enlargement and the ENP will, in all likelihood, continue be high-salience topics in Latvia. Evidence for this comes from the public statements of Latvian leaders and the recent policy documents issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
 

The French and Czech Presidencies viewed from Latvia

Latvia
Latvian Institute of International Affairs
 
Latvia – whether the government, the parliament, the media or research institutions – has not developed a tradition of issuing a comprehensive and systematic assessment of the achievements or shortcomings during a particular member state’s presidency of the European Union. Consequently, only a piecemeal and somewhat subjective assessment of the French Presidency can be provided here.
 
On 18 July 2007 the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a very lengthy document explaining and commenting upon the particularly relevant issues for Latvia during the Slovenian and French Presidencies of the EU.[1] A summary of that document was published separately;[2] highlighted were 16 topics ranging from the Lisbon Treaty, European Neighbourhood Policy, and European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) to various topics related to the economy. These documents reveal Latvia’s priorities, and, in some cases, how Latvia would like to foster their realisation. They were not drafted with the intent to serve as a tool for evaluating the performance of the two presidencies.
 

Response to global challenges should not be decided by a select few

Latvia
Latvian Institute of International Affairs
 
Latvia expects the EU to react energetically to the challenge of overcoming the global economic decline and restoring growth and that in order to achieve this, a new architecture and new mechanisms are needed for the global financial system. The response to this global challenge should also include pursuing actively the Doha Round of discussions on liberalising world trade to their logical conclusion and supporting consistently a policy of free and open trade.[1] The resultant agreements and policies, Latvia feels, would present a wider window of opportunity for developing its own foreign trade relations.
 
More specifically, during the Czech Presidency of the EU, Latvia anticipates implementation of the steps agreed upon during the European Council of 11 and 12 December 2008. Likewise, Latvia anticipates simplification in the application procedure for, and speedier disbursement of, the various EU funds for assisting agriculture.
 
Latvia endorses the principles of the G20 declaration, announced in Washington on 15 November 2008, and would like to contribute to the discussions at the EU level of the follow-up G20 Summit in April 2009.
 
The performance of the EU in the financial crisis so far
 

Obama has not prompted Latvia to re-examine Latvian-US relations

Latvia
Latvian Institute of International Affairs
 
In Latvia, as in other European states, the election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States was met with widespread public approval. Despite the fact that ‘change’ was the principal theme of Obama’s campaign, there was in 2008 and there is in early 2009 no reason to anticipate fundamental changes in US-Latvian relations. These can be characterised as a strategic partnership.
 
Given the preoccupation of Latvians, particularly since November 2008, with their own problems, the election of a new US President has not prompted them to re-examine Latvian-US, let alone transatlantic relations. There has been no commentary in the Latvian media in recent months devoted specifically to redefining or revitalising European-American relations during the Obama Presidency.
 
From the meagre discussions on topics related to transatlantic relations in the Latvian media and public statements of officials, it appears that the more prevalent views on improving EU-US relations reflect many of the mainstream views of leading EU officials and political pundits elsewhere in Europe. A tentative list of recommendations from Latvia could be:
 

National crisis management more important than future of the EU

Latvian Institute of International Affairs

Latvia
Latvian Institute of International Affairs

For the past two years, but especially since autumn 2008, Latvia has been increasingly preoccupied with its own problems. The Latvians are particularly concerned with: