LATVIA'S FOREIGN POLICY GUIDELINES 2006-2010

(Informative section)


I. INTRODUCTION

II. THE EXISTING SITUATION

III. BASIC POLICY PRINCIPLES AND OBJECTIVES

IV. AREAS OF ACTION

   1. STRENGTHENING NATIONAL SECURITY

   2. PURSUING ECONOMIC INTERESTS

   3. REGIONAL POLICY

   4. THE EUROPEAN UNION

   5. RELATIONS WITH THIRD COUNTRIES

   6. STRENGTHENING THE LATVIAN DIASPORA AND DEFENDING THE INTERESTS OF CITIZENS ABROAD

   7. ENHANCING THE STATE'S IMAGE AND LEVEL OF RECOGNITION

V. ASSESSMENT OF THE EFFECT ON THE NATIONAL BUDGET AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGETS

VI. PLANS FOR FURTHER ACTION

VII. A SYSTEM FOR EVALUATION OF POLICY RESULTS PROCEDURE FOR PREPARATION OF REPORTS

Appendix INDICATORS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LATVIA'S FOREIGN POLICY



I. INTRODUCTION

 

Latvia's foreign policy guidelines set out the country's international outlook, foreign policy interests, planned activities and expected results. The guidelines have been developed to cover the next five years.


II. THE EXISTING SITUATION


Latvia's accession to the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) signalled the achievement of the country's main goals in terms of institutional membership. Latvia has thus acquired unprecedented security – more security than has ever been enjoyed in the country's history. Under this status, Latvia can develop, knowing that the traditional military threats against the state have diminished considerably. This affords greater opportunities and freedom of action in terms of the country's development and the shaping of its foreign policy. At the same time, however, NATO and the EU continue to adapt to the situation which has emerged after the most extensive enlargement in the history of those two organisations, and must also deal with current international threats and challenges. This means that Latvia's foreign policy situation must be viewed multi-dimensionally, with its most important factors grouped into the global, the regional and the national level.


At the global level, major changes have occurred in the world since the restoration of Latvia's independence. Countries with enormous economic potential and opportunities, with all the challenges that come with that situation, are becoming stronger. The United States of America (USA) has consolidated its position as the world's superpower. The political and economic influence of Asian countries is rapidly on the rise. The number of countries and countries striving towards democracy has increased. The world is experiencing an unprecedented boom in the development and introduction of new technologies. This has changed people's lives, and has facilitated globalisation.

At the same time, however, numerous factors have created new challenges in the world: the emergence of international terrorism, asymmetric threats, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, increased social inequalities, a growing dependency on energy, technology and information resources, as well as ecological crises.

Global and regional organisations in which countries take part irrespective of their size and influence are becoming more and more important in terms of meeting these new challenges. Participation in such organisations is of advantage to Latvia, as this allows it to contribute to the resolution of specific problems while also defending its national interests in global politics. It is important to Latvia that these international organisations exist, develop and adapt to changes in the modern-day world. It must be remembered, however, that international organisations may sometimes take decisions not in accordance with Latvia's national interests. It is therefore important for the Latvian state to have done its preparatory work to find specific and influential allies, therefore ensuring more favourable solutions to problems outside of formal institutional frameworks.

Latvia became a member state of the United Nations (UN) in 1991, thus creating a global dimension for Latvian foreign policy. Membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) improves the functioning of Latvia's economy, because the country is now a part of global trade processes. Membership of the European Union, NATO and other European organisations (the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) has benefited Latvia in terms of new opportunities to pursue its national interests. Active participation in the international missions of the UN, EU and NATO has provided Latvian institutions with invaluable experience.

By acceding to international declarations such as the Millennium Development Declaration and the Cairo Declaration, Latvia has demonstrated its readiness to become actively involved in the resolution of global problems: eliminating poverty, strengthening democracy, limiting the spread of disease, ensuring sustainable environmental development, and promoting gender equality and the universal availability of education.


United at the regional level, Latvia is part of the region of Baltic Sea states. This region is united today; the countries which surround the Baltic Sea are all members either of NATO or the EU, or other organisations at the political, economic and social level. The countries of the region are also brought together by history and culture. Latvia has actively shaped good relations with its neighbouring countries, both at the bilateral level and through membership in regional organisations such as the Council of Baltic Sea States and the Baltic Council of Ministers. By doing so, Latvia has contributed to the resolution of key problems in the region: energy security, environmental pollution, illegal migration and terrorism.


At the national level, the country's development has allowed the people of Latvia to make broader use of the opportunities afforded by the present-day international environment. Latvian businesspeople have commenced operations in regions of the world which, just a few years ago, were all but inaccessible to Latvian representatives. The people of Latvia now enjoy more extensive opportunities related to travel, education and work throughout the world. At the same time, Latvia continues to attract a significant volume of foreign investment.

These are achievements of which the citizens of Latvia can be proud, because they provide them with a clear understanding of their role in the world. Latvia's foreign policy must seek adequate solutions and instruments in order to secure and defend these growing opportunities. The state must make use of internationally available resources and instruments to strengthen its national security even further, to develop the national economy, and to ensure an improved standard of living for Latvia's people. This can be achieved if ours is a unified society having common values, interests and resources for the enhancement of our international influence.


III. BASIC POLICY PRINCIPLES AND OBJECTIVES

 

With ever-expanding globalisation and integration in the world, the development and welfare of each country and society are dependent directly on its ability to operate effectively at the international level. The events of the past century have demonstrated the vast role of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, national equality, peaceful co-existence and solidarity in ensuring mutually advantageous co-operation. These principles, therefore, will continue to be observed consistently in Latvia's foreign policy, as has been the case until now.

The Republic of Latvia, established in 1918, exists today on the basis of the principle of succession of statehood. Restoration of independence in 1991 represented the renewal of Latvia's statehood, which was interrupted in 1940. The obligations and rights of the Republic of Latvia which existed from the 1920s until the 1940s were reinstated. The cornerstone to the legal status of the Latvian state is the Satversme (Constitution), which took effect in 1922. Latvia's foreign policy therefore includes the aspect of explaining, at the international level, the fact of the Soviet occupation and its consequences.

On the basis of these principles, Latvia has defined the following foreign policy objectives:

1) To promote the welfare of the people of Latvia;

2) To enhance national and public security, reducing direct military threats, combating international crime, and diminishing the causes of ecological catastrophe;

3) To strengthen democracy and to eliminate global poverty and the spread of disease;

4) To enhance economic potential by attracting investments, ensuring the increasing competitiveness of Latvian businesses, and protecting the interests of those businesses abroad;

5) To strengthen national identity by popularising the country's image and providing support for the Latvian diaspora.


IV. AREAS OF ACTION

 

In order to ensure the effectiveness of Latvia's foreign policy objectives, it is necessary to expand Latvia's bilateral relations with other countries while at the same time, making maximum use of the ability of international institutions and organisations to promote Latvia's influence in the political processes of the world. This influence would, in turn, constitute a guarantee of the protection of Latvia's national interests.

At the same time, Latvia must continue to improve and expand its network of diplomatic and consular representations in the world. In order to ensure implementation of the foreign policy objectives defined in this document, Latvia must open two diplomatic and consular representations each year.

Seven major areas of action have been formulated to achieve the foreign policy objectives:

1) Strengthening national security;

2) Pursuing economic interests;

3) Enhancing the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region (regional policy);

4) Strengthening the unity and competitiveness of the European Union;

5) Strengthening Latvia's relations with third countries;

6) Strengthening the Latvian diaspora and defending the interests of citizens abroad;

7) Enhancing the state's image and level of recognition in the world.



1. STRENGTHENING NATIONAL SECURITY

 

As part of national security, Latvia's strategic goal is to ensure national and public security in co-operation with the country's allies. The concept of security today refers not only to military, but also to social and economic categories. Security is the path toward enhanced public welfare. Latvia's task in this area includes the elimination of direct military threats, the fight against international crime (illegal financial transactions, trade in narcotic substances, trafficking in human beings, smuggling of goods, etc.), and the diminishing of the causes of ecological catastrophe.

Threats today respect no borders, they are mutable and unexpected. It is often difficult to identify the source of threats. As a member state of the UN, NATO and the EU, Latvia will take an active part in the efforts of these organisations to enhance international security. Latvia will thus not only help reduce the level of threats, but will also receive information regarding potential threats sooner and will therefore be able to react adequately.

Threats against the democracies of Europe and North America are all but identical. This is made clear in the security policy documents of the EU, NATO and the individual countries. Tactical questions about how to react to threats can be and have been resolved through diplomacy. The NATO alliance is the unifying factor, because it offers an infrastructure and mechanism for reaction which do not exist within the framework of other organisations. Latvia will support the strengthening of military capabilities among European countries and within the EU. This support will be based on the understanding that the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is not an alternative to NATO. The role of the ESDP must be developed in harmony with transatlantic relations to avoid duplication of effort, and to ensure close co-operation between the EU and NATO.

The Latvian National Armed Forces have been developed purposefully since the restoration of the country's independence. For several years now, they have been involved in various international operations in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Participation in these operations represents Latvia's contribution to the process of eliminating threats and maintaining peace. This confirms that Latvia is a trustworthy ally. Participation in the operations is also an important contribution to the expansion of Latvia's international influence. Latvia must be prepared to offer its military assistance and civilian experts whenever this proves necessary in the future.

If the United Nations is to be able to deal effectively with issues of global security and welfare, the organisation must be reformed. Latvia will support reforms which allow the UN to resolve the security challenges of the present day more effectively.

The following are Latvia's foreign policy tasks/assignments for strengthening national security in the period to the year 2010:

1) To develop the military and political role of NATO in strengthening security in the world, developing NATO's capabilities and Rapid Reaction Forces, facilitating the development of NATO infrastructure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and offering support to countries wishing to use NATO experience in reforming their own defence structures;

2) To strengthen transatlantic links and solidarity among allies, a fundamentally important step in providing and maintaining European and global security;

3) To promote the development of the ESDP by taking part in the work of the European Defence Agency, the establishment of European Rapid Reaction Forces, and other civil and military co-operation projects aimed at improving the ability of the EU member states to handle military and civilian crises that are interoperable with NATO; to support the development of the ESDP in a way which takes into full account the security and defence interests of all member states and which is open with respect to the ability of all involved countries to take part in the implementation of various projects;

4) To make a greater contribution to international security by establishing a contingent of civilian and military experts who can participate effectively in international operations;

5) To devote increasing attention to the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at the national and international levels, particularly emphasising joint work in the area of risk analysis and the effective operation of a system to control the import and export of strategic goods;

6) To strengthen bilateral relations with countries which, in terms of their existing or potential significance, facilitate global or regional security.


2. PURSUING ECONOMIC INTERESTS

 

In an environment of globalisation, foreign policy assumes an increasingly important role in enhancing the competitiveness and welfare of the state. Latvia's foreign policy in pursuit of national economic interests is based on the strategic development documents that have been approved by the Saeima (Parliament) and government, focusing on the goals and missions identified therein.

An internationally competitive business environment is the foundation for the state's economic development. There are three areas in which foreign policy can make a significant contribution: introduction of the single European currency in Latvia, supporting a competitive tax policy, and promoting external trade. Introduction of the Euro as soon as possible can be achieved by co-ordinating the activities of economic and political institutions. Low taxes have been the cornerstone for development in Latvia over the past several years, but that does not in any sense mean a reduction in overall tax revenues. It is therefore in Latvia's interests to protect the right of individual countries to set their own tax rates, without however, excluding the possibility of equalising tax systems in Europe.

Latvia's geographical location is such that most of its basic infrastructure is closely linked to neighbouring countries. Therefore foreign policy has an important role to perform in pursuing developments in this direction. This particularly applies to the development of energy supplies and transport. Latvia's foreign policy must devote particular attention to energy issues in Latvia, the Baltic Sea region and Europe. Opportunities to diversify the supply of energy resources must be studied, and Latvia must take part in projects aimed at ensuring the stable supply of electricity, oil and gas to Latvia and the EU. Successful inclusion in the EU transport system, including the development of Latvia's ports and transit, is an economic priority in Latvia, and it is of key importance that the country's foreign policy promote the further development of the transport and transit sector.

The latest scientific research and the introduction of research results have a significant role in producing goods and services having a high level of added value. Globalisation is far more distinct in the areas of science and academia than is the case in other areas. Latvia must therefore seek to attract the world's intellectual potential, and to promote the most extensive co-operation possible in the field of education. Of key importance in this regard is the elimination of obstacles to the free movement of people who can transfer knowledge. That is one reason for an important Latvian foreign policy priority being accession to the Schengen Agreement.

Latvia will achieve these goals by making use of the EU's internal market potential and its external economic relations, by actively promoting the development of bilateral economic relations, and by representing Latvia's interests in the framework of international economic organisations.

Latvia supports the forming of external economic relations by the EU which strengthen the position of the EU as an active global participant in the world's economic processes. This is achievable by consistently pursuing the interests of the EU and its member states and by promoting the integration of other countries and regions into the global economy, thus ensuring the balanced and sustainable development of these countries and regions.

Latvia is vitally interested in attracting foreign investment and promoting exports. Among the key foreign policy objectives for Latvia therefore enhancing the attraction of foreign investment in pursuit of economic development, facilitation of exports, and defending the interests of Latvian businesses abroad by utilising the country's network of representations.

The following are Latvia's foreign policy tasks in pursuing its economic interests in the period to the year 2010:

1) To promote free, equal and fair international competition;

2) To attract knowledge and innovation in the national economy;

3) To promote exports and attract foreign investment;

4) To seek ways of diversifying the delivery of energy resources, develop alternative energy sources, and promote the development of the transport infrastructure;

5) To promote introduction of the European currency in Latvia;

6) To facilitate Latvia's accession to the Schengen Agreement;

7) To further develop the country's network of diplomatic representations and to work with the Latvian Investment and Development Agency on various economic issues.


3. REGIONAL POLICY

 

Over the course of history, political and economic development in the Baltic Sea region has had a direct effect on Latvia's development.[1]  The Baltic Sea itself is the unifying factor, as it has for centuries served as a factor in shaping the region's identity. A major proportion of foreign investment in Latvia comes from this region in particular.

The Baltic Sea region has become the most dynamic region in Europe in economic terms. The density of multilateral governmental and non-governmental organisations has been a characteristic aspect of this process – the Nordic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), the Baltic Development Forum, the Baltic Assembly, and the Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM). The European Union's Northern Dimension policy is of key importance, as it is aimed at promoting growth in the region. Regional organisations promote closer co-operation on the basis of mutual trust and common values.

It is in Latvia's interest to ensure that the Baltic Sea region continues to develop as one of the most competitive regions in the EU and at the global level. It is important, therefore, to concentrate on the areas of co-operation of priority for the region and to improve the use of existing mechanisms for regional co-operation.

Latvia's relations with the other Baltic States can be described as multi-faceted and intensive at the political and the practical levels. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have common experience related to the accession to and membership of the EU and NATO. The three countries share similar views as to their further development. Furthermore, co-operation among the Baltic States also has an historical and symbolic dimension. Although countries sometimes pursue differing tactics in achieving their foreign policy objectives, the objectives themselves are not very different which allows for the further development and deepening of relations with our nearest neighbours. Institutions that have been established by all three countries – the Baltic Assembly and the BCM – make a great contribution to harmonising the foreign policies of the Baltic States and to promoting practical co-operation.

Active bilateral and multilateral dialogue with the Nordic countries is of great importance in strengthening regional co-operation. Close co-operation between the Baltic States and the Nordic countries, as well as their participation in the implementation of regional programmes, projects and initiatives, serve to enhance the greater influence of the Baltic Sea region at the European and global levels. It is also true that dialogue between Latvia and those Baltic Sea region countries which are also EU member states (Germany, Poland) must be seen as an important instrument in shaping the EU's common policies.

The Baltic Sea region and co-operation therein cannot be considered to the exclusion of Russia. Regional initiatives must be seen as an opportunity to promote co-operation with that country. Latvia is also interested in the long-term involvement of the United States in this region.

The following are Latvia's foreign policy tasks in pursuit of its interests in the Baltic Sea region in the period to the year 2010:

1) To participate actively in the work of the Baltic Assembly and BCM, focusing particularly on Latvia's presidency of these structures in 2007 and 2010;

2) To identify new co-operation projects involving the Nordic Council of Ministries in line with Latvia's foreign policy priorities;

3) To support the EU Northern Dimension and to take part in the development and implementation of the new Northern Dimension framework document;

4) To maintain on the agenda of regional co-operation formats regional issues of key importance to Latvia: development of the infrastructure (energy, transport), environmental protection, security, promotion of entrepreneurship, and research and development;

5) To continue informal ad hoc consultations with the Baltic States and Nordic countries on current EU and foreign policy issues, involving other countries when appropriate;

6) To promote the involvement of Russia and the United States in the implementation of various projects in the Baltic Sea region.


4. THE EUROPEAN UNION


Latvia's integration into the EU is proceeding actively, and relations with the EU member states and institutions are of the greatest importance in Latvia's foreign policy. This policy is inevitably linked to trends in the EU's decision-making institutions. By participating in the formation of these institutions' agenda, Latvia can influence the taking of decisions at the EU level which are vitally important in terms of Latvia's national interests.

Latvia's strategic goals in the EU are to strengthen the EU's unity both in internal processes and in its external policy; to enhance the EU's global competitiveness; to increase the level of economic development and social welfare in Latvia as quickly as possible, and to preserve and strengthen the country's cultural values. Latvia's welfare and security are directly linked to the EU's common security and welfare. In any situation, Latvia must find adequate resources to strengthen the EU's unity and must work in pursuit of the EU's common interests. For this reason Latvia must ensure that it can actively participate in debates and in the decision-making on issues of importance to the European Union; only in that way can Latvia expand its influence in the EU. This approach means that representatives of all relevant government institutions must take timely and high-quality participation in meetings of EU ministers in the various sectors, as well as meetings of other officials.

It is important for Latvia to foster the consolidation of the EU's constitutional foundations and to increase the effectiveness of decision-making and of the institutional work in the European Union.

If the EU's global competitiveness is to be enhanced, it is in Latvia's interests to complete the establishment of the common internal market, to facilitate the free movement of labour and services, and to participate in the taking of all decisions which relate to the EU's strategic growth. Education and research are of key importance in this regard, because these help develop the production of goods and services having a high added value. Services comprise 70% of the EU's gross domestic product (GDP), and if this market is ineffective, the economic growth of the entire EU is hindered. It is therefore important to achieve agreement on the common principles for liberalising the services market. It is also important for the EU member states to work closely together in dealing with issues related to energy, transport and infrastructure, thus ensuring the effective utilisation of available resources.

In the political dimension, it is important for Latvia to ensure the emergence of institutional structures which prevent the disintegration of the EU whilst at the same time promoting the equal opportunities of all member states in taking part in the generation and consideration of ideas and the taking of decisions. In the context of this process, work must be done to promote a unified EU foreign policy in such areas as security, the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime, the relief of the consequences of natural disasters, and the reduction of poverty in the world. This requires stronger co-operation among the law enforcement institutions of the member states. In order to strengthen the EU's external borders, it is of fundamental importance to ensure solidarity among member states. It is important for Latvia to join the signatory countries of the Schengen Agreement in the near future.

Within the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, it is necessary to preserve close and pragmatic co-operation with the EU's strategic partners. In this context, it is particularly important for Latvia to ensure that relations between the EU and Russia are based on a legally binding document.

Europe's security and stability are closely linked to the economic and political stability in neighbouring countries. It is therefore important for Latvia to continue the development and implementation of European Neighbourhood Policy.

The following are Latvia's foreign policy tasks in the context of the EU in the period to the year 2010:

1) To ensure active dialogue with EU member states on all aspects of EU policies;

2) To participate actively in building the EU's future and enhancing its legal framework;

3) To promote the introduction of the European common currency in Latvia;

4) To facilitate Latvia's accession to the Schengen Agreement;

5) To promote labour market mobility and services market liberalisation;

6) To take part in enhancing the Better Legislation Initiative;

7) To support the development of an EU budget that would increase the competitiveness of the EU economy and ensure the just distribution of the EU's cohesion resources;

8) To develop co-operation among EU member states in interior, judicial and home affairs;

9) To continue the development and implementation of the European neighbourhood Policy, utilising the experience of Latvia and the other new EU member states in the transition toward democracy and the market economy;

10) To support the further EU enlargement, taking into account the ability of the EU to take in new member states as well as each candidate country's readiness for membership.


5. RELATIONS WITH THIRD COUNTRIES

 

The United States of America is Latvia's strategic partner, and relations with this strategic ally must be enhanced both bilaterally and by joining the USA in broader regional activities. Of key importance is jointly determining a solution which would allow the United States to repeal the visa regime for Latvia, thereby facilitating the further development of contacts among the residents of the two countries and creating the basis for more extensive economic co-operation. It is important to maintain ongoing dialogue with the United States on both traditional and new security challenges, including energy security, the fight against terrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Russia is Latvia's neighbour. At the bilateral level, relations between Latvia and Russia must be based on pragmatic foundations and co-operation, particularly emphasising the need to resolve vitally important and practical mutual issues, and strengthen the role of the Baltic Sea region. With regard to dialogue among the two countries, Latvia is also prepared to continue discussions on the fundamental political issues in which agreement has not been achieved to date.

Since its accession to the EU, Latvia has had greater opportunities to develop relations with regions in which Latvia's opportunities for co-operation were previously limited. This has promoted the strengthening of bilateral and multilateral relations. Latvia must continue to engage in close co-operation with countries and regions of great or expanding global significance. Effort must actively continue to ensure a visa-free regime for the citizens of Latvia with third countries.

Latvia is interested in ensuring that in the EU's neighbouring countries and proximate regions, long-term stability is maintained, democracy is strengthened, economic and social development continues to progress, and the policies of the various countries are focused on co-operation with European institutions. Latvia will devote particular attention to the countries of Eastern Europe, with which it will continue to develop intensive political dialogue and co-operation so as to transfer the reform experience which it has accumulated in recent years. When offering experience and assistance, it is of key importance to continue co-operation with independent experts from the private sector and non-governmental organisations.

The EU is the world's leading donor of development assistance, and has an important role in the policy formation of various international organisations. Although Latvia's limited resources do not allow it to offer the volume of assistance provided by the "old" EU member states, during its transformation process, it has accumulated experience that can be of use in those countries where democratic reforms have only just begun. The commitment by the EU member states to progressively increase financing for developmental co-operation is also binding on Latvia.

Global risks (poverty, the spread of disease, the lack of democracy) have a direct effect on the EU and its member states. It is in Latvia's interests to be involved actively in international activities, offering a contribution aimed at eliminating these global threats and ensuring international stability. This includes support and assistance in promoting the economic, social and political development of third countries.

The following are Latvia's foreign policy tasks in its relations with third countries in the period to the year 2010:

1) To maintain an ongoing strategic partnership dialogue with the United States;

2) To ensure deeper bilateral relations with countries of great or increasing global significance;

3) To facilitate political dialogue and economic co-operation with Russia;

4) To participate actively in the development and implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy, taking a stand in favour of further EU support for political and economic reforms in the EU's neighbouring countries to the East;

5) To progressively increase financing for developmental co-operation while utilising those experts in Latvia's public and private sectors having experience in this area.


6. STRENGTHENING THE LATVIAN DIASPORA AND DEFENDING THE INTERESTS OF CITIZENS ABROAD

 

Many of Latvia's citizens and members of the Latvian diaspora live in other countries and continents. One of the intrinsic priorities in Latvian foreign policy is to consider this part of the Latvian nation so as to promote the preservation of the Latvian identity and the links which exist between Latvia and its diaspora. This also serves the interests of Latvia in a very direct way, because our present demographic situation does not suggest that population numbers will increase to any significant degree in the near future. For that reason, it is very important for Latvia not to lose members of the nation for economic, political and cultural reasons.

Members of the historic Latvian diaspora have made an invaluable contribution in preserving national self-awareness and identity, and in serving as a political force which has always defended the right of the Latvian nation to statehood in the world, and in participating actively in Latvia's "people's diplomacy." The contribution of the Latvian diaspora in terms of Latvia's foreign policy interests – enhancing Latvia's security and facilitating its welfare – has been very important indeed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actively participating in a long-term Latvian government programme, "A Programme of Support for the Latvian Diaspora, 2004-2009" (the "Diaspora Programme"). The aim of the Diaspora Programme is to preserve the national identity of Latvian communities and to promote cultural contacts with Latvia at the level of organisations and individuals. Increased attention must be devoted to the so-called "new diaspora", which refers to the new generation of émigrés. Support must be given to the establishment of associations among those people.

It is of key importance for the Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration - the institution which is directly responsible for implementing the Diaspora Programme, and for ministries and public organisations involved in the process, to work together with the Foreign Ministry and with Latvia's diplomatic and consular representations abroad. The most important goals of the Diaspora Programme include the supply of educational and methodological resources to the organisations of the diaspora, strengthening the network of Saturday, Sunday and summer schools, ensuring the availability of Latvian language and literature teachers, creating opportunities for younger members of the Latvian diaspora to study at Latvia's universities, and providing support for people who wish to repatriate.

One of the most important duties for the Latvian state is to protect the rights and interests of Latvian people when they are abroad. As the external economic activities of the Latvian people become more widespread and as development of tourism leads to increased international contact, the workload of the consular service has increased markedly. This trend is expected to continue in the medium term. It is therefore in Latvia's interests to expand its network of consular representation abroad, ensuring that the consular service hires highly qualified and knowledgeable staff, and that all necessary technical resources are in place. This can be achieved by continuing with the ongoing training of consular personnel and by studying the experience of the consular services of other EU member states.

The following are Latvia's foreign policy goals for strengthening the Latvian diaspora and defending the interests of Latvia's citizens abroad in the period to the year 2010:

1) To continue to implement the Diaspora Programme, intensifying contacts among Latvians abroad at the level of organisations and individuals alike;

2) To ensure the availability of information about the Latvian diaspora whilst popularising Latvian culture, traditions and arts as key components of the country's image, and ensuring co-operation among institutions in support of the Latvian diaspora;

3) To improve the structure and resources of the consular service so as to protect the rights of citizens and residents of Latvia who live abroad.


7. ENHANCING THE STATE'S IMAGE AND LEVEL OF RECOGNITION

 

A key component in the image of the Latvian state is the popularisation of the country's political, economic, cultural, scientific and athletic achievements throughout the world. The government's strategic guidelines in enhancing the level of the country's positive international recognition therefore involve a varied and complex process of popularising Latvia's image.

Culture is one of the main resources and most effective instruments in establishing a positive image for the state. The external cultural policy is therefore of key importance in establishing an integrated foreign policy. There is a need to establish a unified and co-ordinated long term policy in close co-operation with all relevant institutions and individuals. Latvia must develop a network of cultural attachés in those countries that are of strategic importance in terms of co-operation. The work of cultural attachés requires co-ordinated, ongoing and close co-operation among the Foreign Ministry, the Latvian Institute and the Ministry of Culture, also involving other co-operation partners in this process.

Promotion of a positive recognition of the country internationally is a constant and systematic process, involving each and every resident of Latvia and various institutions and organisations which, taken together, shape that which is known as "people's diplomacy". It is universally understood that a firmly positive image facilitates the inflow of foreign investment, creating improvements in socio-economic welfare. A positive image also ensures positive interest among foreign tourists. In co-operation with state and local government institutions and businesses, the Foreign Ministry and Latvia's diplomatic and consular representations will continue to work actively on creating a positive impression of Latvia abroad, thus promoting Latvia's influence abroad and ensuring greater interest among foreign investors and tourists.

Of key importance in terms of the image of Latvia and Europe is the objective study of 20th century history. Latvia has worked hard to explain the consequences of the rule of totalitarian regimes in Latvia to the people of the world, and it will continue to work with European partners to ensure an objective evaluation of these consequences and to eliminate their negative manifestations. It is in Europe's interests to ensure an honest discussion of totalitarianism. Only an assessment of history can ensure that this history does not repeat itself in the future. Latvia stands ready to share experience with other countries about its positive experience with societal integration, and it will continue to explain its achievements in this area to international organisations.

The following are Latvia's foreign policy tasks for enhancing the state's image and level of recognition in the period to the year 2010:

1) To ensure that the Latvian institutions of public administration co-ordinate all functions related to the building of Latvia's image, working purposefully with partners from the public and private sectors so as to develop and implement unified principles and strategy in relation to the country's image;

2) To ensure that the Latvian Institute is able to compile information on Latvia's achievements in politics, economics, culture and sports, and to disseminate that information in a high-quality and co-ordinated way, utilising traditional means (print materials, work with foreign journalists, Latvia's diplomatic and consular representations abroad), and modern information carriers and networks (the virtual environment);

3) To ensure the participation of Latvia's diplomatic and consular representations in the international political, economic and cultural events which take place in their countries of residence, understanding that this is an invaluable opportunity to create the image of Latvia as that of a modern and dependable country with a wealth of tradition;

4) To work with other government institutions, involving them in designing the principles of external cultural policy, and facilitating the establishment of a mechanism to implement those principles.


V. ASSESSMENT OF THE EFFECT ON THE NATIONAL BUDGET AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGETS

 

Financing to be allocated for the implementation of Latvia's Foreign Policy Guidelines is to be reviewed by the Cabinet of Ministers together with the budget requests of all other ministries while preparing and reviewing the draft law on the national budget for the next year. The financing required for 2007 will be determined when the new political initiatives are submitted.


VI. PLANS FOR FURTHER ACTION


To implement the objectives defined in the Foreign Policy Guidelines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will draft a programme setting precise and specific instruments, solutions and schedules for implementation of the relevant projects.


VII. A SYSTEM FOR EVALUATION OF POLICY RESULTS AND PROCEDURE FOR PREPARATION OF REPORTS

 

Given the multidimensional nature of foreign policy, its influence is long-lasting and its results are often indirect. The implementation of foreign policy tasks will therefore be evaluated on the basis of three kinds of indicators (see Appendix). First, there are policy result indicators which illustrate accomplishments in the implementation of policy. Given the specifics of foreign policy, these indicators will relate to documents, events or announcements. Second, there are task performance indicators offering direct evidence of achievements in this regard. These indicators are easier to quantify than political indicators, but their foreign policy influence is less direct. Finally, there are indirect indicators which speak to the overall development of the Latvian state or which relate to specific processes. These indicators offer a good illustration of development trends, but they are not dependent exclusively on the implementation of foreign policy. A system of this kind allows for a comprehensive evaluation of the progress in implementation of the foreign policy guidelines ensuring the possibility of making any necessary improvements then required.

Once every two years, the Foreign Ministry will evaluate the progress in implementation of the foreign policy guidelines, and will prepare a relevant informative report to be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers.


Artis Pabriks

Foreign Minister


Appendix


INDICATORS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF LATVIA'S FOREIGN POLICY


Policy tasks

Policy result indicators

Task performance indicators

Indirect indicators

1. STRENGTHENING NATIONAL SECURITY 

1) To develop the military and political role of NATO in strengthening security in the world, developing NATO's capabilities and Rapid Reaction Forces, facilitating the development of NATO infrastructure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and offering support to countries wishing to use NATO experience in reforming their own defence structures;

  • Establishment of NATO infrastructure in Latvia and the Baltic States;
  • Implementing NATO functions in Latvia (e.g., NATO summit)



2) To strengthen transatlantic links and solidarity among allies, a fundamentally important step in providing and maintaining European and global security;




  • Co-operation between the United States and the European member states of NATO on joint projects and operations related to the fight against international terrorism and the stabilisation of crisis regions.

3) To promote the development of the ESDP by taking part in the work of the European Defence Agency, the establishment of European Rapid Reaction Forces, and other civil and military co-operation projects aimed at improving the ability of the EU member states to handle military and civilian crises that are interoperable with NATO; to support the development of the ESDP in a way which takes into full account the security and defence interests of all member states and which is open with respect to the ability of all involved countries to take part in the implementation of various projects;

  • Projects implemented by Latvia under the ESDP
  • The number of Latvian representatives holding posts in European defence structures


4) To make a greater contribution to international security by establishing a contingent of civilian and military experts who can participate effectively in international operations;


  • The number of Latvian experts who have taken part in international operations


5) To devote increasing attention to the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at the national and international levels, particularly emphasising joint work in the area of risk analysis and the effective operation of a system to control the import and export of strategic goods;


  • Interoperability of Latvian and international systems


6) To strengthen bilateral relations with countries which, in terms of their existing or potential significance, facilitate global or regional security;


  • Expanding areas of co-operation and implementation of joint projects within NATO
  • Co-operation in international organisations, the establishment of new embassies, expansion of the network of honorary consuls


2. PURSUING ECONOMIC INTERESTS

1) To promote free, equal and fair international competition;




  • Multilateral WTO trade talks
  • EU free trade agreements
  • Initiatives aimed at enhancing competition within the EU's internal market


  • Indicators related to the operation of Latvian businesses abroad

2) To attract knowledge and innovation in the national economy;




  • Innovation projects, programmes
  • Development of knowledge-based projects



3) To promote exports and attract foreign investment;



  • Projects aimed at facilitating exports and investments


  • Indicators related to the operations of Latvian businesses abroad
  • Latvia's foreign trade balance
  • Foreign investments in Latvia
  • Latvian investments abroad

4) To seek ways of diversifying the delivery of energy resources, develop alternative energy sources, and promote the development of the transport infrastructure;

  • Projects aimed at developing alternative energy supplies

    

    

5) To promote introduction of the European currency in Latvia;

  • Latvia's accession to the Eurozone



6) To facilitate Latvia's accession to the Schengen Agreement;

  • Latvia's accession to the Schengen Agreement



7) To further develop the country's network of diplomatic representations and to work with the Latvian Investment and Development Agency on various economic issues.



  • The number of diplomatic representations
  • Business visits and co-operation with Latvia's diplomatic representations
  • Latvia's foreign trade balance
  • Foreign investments in Latvia
  • Latvian investments abroad

3. REGIONAL POLICY

1) To participate actively in the work of the Baltic Assembly and BCM, focusing particularly on Latvia's presidency of these structures in 2007 and 2010;

  • Formulating priorities for Latvia's presidencies
  • Co-ordinating the work of the BCM's Committees of Senior Officials


2) To identify new co-operation projects involving the Nordic Council of Ministries in line with Latvia's foreign policy priorities;

  • Co-operation projects
  • Participation in drafting of the Nordic Council of Ministers guidelines


3) To support the EU Northern Dimension and to take part in the development and implementation of the new Northern Dimension framework document;



  • Adoption of the Northern Dimension's political framework document.
  • Implementation of Practical projects related to environmental protection and health care under the Northern Dimension's partnerships
  • Promoting co-operation between the EU and Russia

4) To maintain on the agenda of regional co-operation formats regional issues of key importance to Latvia: development of the infrastructure (energy, transport), environmental protection, security, promotion of entrepreneurship, and research and development;

  • Establishing blocs of countries to defend common interests and positions
  • Elaboration of joint projects
  • Improved economic indicators, greater security and increased competitiveness in Latvia

5) To continue informal ad hoc consultations with the Baltic States and Nordic countries on current EU and foreign policy issues, involving other countries when appropriate;

  • Establishing blocs of countries to defend common interests and positions



6) To promote the involvement of Russia and the United States in the implementation of various projects in the Baltic Sea region


  • Elaboration of joint projects
  • Long-term involvement of Russia and the USA in the region

4. THE EUROPEAN UNION

1) To ensure active dialogue with EU member states on all aspects of EU policies;






  • More intensive co-operation and establishment of blocs with individual EU member states to defend common interests and positions
  • 24 bilateral visits each year (at least one visit from each EU member state)
  • Participation of Latvian governmental representatives in the work of all EU sectoral councils
  • The number of bilateral meetings within EU meetings
  • Expanding the network of diplomatic representations in the EU member states
  • Improved economic indicators and greater competitiveness
  • A strengthening of Latvia's positions and influence at the international level

2) To participate actively in building the EU's future and enhancing its legal framework;




  • Entering into force of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
  • Latvia's proposals regarding the establishing a Consitution for Europe
  • Participation in initiatives related to the enhancement of the EU's legal framework
  • An effective institutional mechanism for the work of the enlarged EU

3) To promote the introduction of the European common currency in Latvia;


  • Latvia's accession to the Eurozone



4) To facilitate Latvia's accession to the Schengen Agreement;

  • Latvia's accession to the Schengen Agreement



5) To promote labour market mobility and services market liberalisation;



  • Legislation in EU member states with respect to labour market mobility
  • Informative events on employment opportunities in Latvia
  • The number of economic migrants

6) To take part in enhancing the Better Legislation Initiative;


  • Legislation in EU member states


  • GDP growth
  • The amount of time needed to register a business

7) To support the development of an EU budget that would increase the competitiveness of the EU economy and ensure the just distribution of the EU's cohesion resources;



  • EU budget in line with Latvia's priorities
  • Latvia's proposals for EU budget reform (reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, distribution of the EU Structural Fund and Cohesion Fund financing, etc.)
  • Participation in debates about EU budget reform
  • EU budget which helps to achieve the goals of the Lisbon Strategy and strengthen the EU's role in the world;
  • Increased Latvian competitiveness;
  • Reduced disparity between Latvia and other EU member states, improvement of Latvia's socio-economic indicators to approach the EU average

8) To develop co-operation among EU member states in interior, judicial and home affairs;






  • Joint projects


9) To continue the development and implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy, utilising the experience of Latvia and the other new EU member states in the transition toward democracy and the market economy;

  • Individual action plans, new agreements with the EU's neighbour countries
  • Approval and implementation of action plans, signing of agreements


10) To support the further EU enlargement, taking into account the ability of the EU to take in new member states as well as each candidate country's readiness for membership;




  • Admission of new EU member states



5. RELATIONS WITH THIRD COUNTRIES

1) To maintain an ongoing strategic partnership dialogue with the United States;

  • Implementation of a strategic partnership
  • Joint projects, visits, political consultations


2) To ensure deeper bilateral relations with countries of great or increasing global significance;




  • Expanded areas of co-operation, implementation of joint projects, expansion of the contractual basis for co-operation
  • Co-operation within international organisations, opening of embassies, expansion of the network of honorary consuls


3) To facilitate political dialogue and economic co-operation with Russia;





  • Maintenance of ongoing political dialogue, making use of potential for economic co-operation
  • Ongoing political dialogue (visits, meetings, consultations)
  • Ongoing work by the Intergovernmental Commission
  • Further expansion of the bilateral legal framework


4) To participate actively in the development and implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy, taking a stand in favour of further EU support for political and economic reforms in the EU's neighbouring countries to the East;



  • Further implementation of political and economic reforms under the European Neighbourhood Policy
  • Transfer of Latvia's experience
  • Closer co-operation between the EU and the countries under the European Neighbourhood Policy, liberalisation of trade regimes, movement toward the resolution of frozen regional conflicts
  • Provision of Latvia's experience and assistance to the countries of the region
  • Long-term stability is established in the EU's neighbour countries and proximate regions, the principles of democracy are strengthened, policy aimed at co-operation with European institutions is implemented and there is ongoing economic and social development

5) To progressively increase financing for developmental co-operation while utilising those experts in Latvia's public and private sectors having experience in this area.




  • Financing for international development assistance


6. STRENGTHENING THE LATVIAN DIASPORA AND DEFENDING THE INTERESTS OF CITIZENS ABROAD

1) To continue to implement the Diaspora Programme, intensifying contacts among Latvians abroad at the level of organisations and individuals alike;







  • Events organised by the Latvian diaspora with the participation of representatives of Latvia


2) To ensure the availability of information about the Latvian diaspora whilst popularising Latvian culture, traditions and arts as key components of the country's image, and ensuring co-operation among institutions in support of the Latvian diaspora;






  • Informative resources concerning Latvian culture and traditions
  • The number of visitors to websites containing the informative resources

3) To improve the structure and resources of the consular service so as to protect the rights of citizens and residents of Latvia who live abroad.



  • The number of people who have sought assistance, and their responses to the assistance rendered

7. ENHANCING THE STATE'S IMAGE AND LEVEL OF RECOGNITION

1) To ensure that the Latvian institutions of public administration co-ordinate all functions related to the building of Latvia's image, working purposefully with partners from the public and private sectors so as to develop and implement unified principles and strategy in relation to the country's image;


  • A unified strategy for the development of the country's image
  • The level of the country's recognition in the world
  • The number of tourists in Latvia
  • Foreign investment in Latvia

2) To ensure that the Latvian Institute is able to compile information on Latvia's achievements in politics, economics, culture and sports, and to disseminate that information in a high-quality and co-ordinated way, utilising traditional means (print materials, work with foreign journalists, Latvia's diplomatic and consular representations abroad), and modern information carriers and networks (the virtual environment);


  • Information compiled


3) To ensure the participation of Latvia's diplomatic and consular representations in the international political, economic and cultural events which take place in their countries of residence, understanding that this is an invaluable opportunity to create the image of Latvia as that of a modern and dependable country with a wealth of tradition;


  • Participation by Latvia's representatives in the work of international institutions


4) To work with other government institutions, involving them in designing the principles of external cultural policy, and facilitating the establishment of a mechanism to implement those principles.





Artis Pabriks

Foreign Minister


 [1] In the geopolitical framework, the concept of the Baltic Sea region includes the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden), and Germany, Poland and Russia. (back to top)