Latvia remains consistent supporter of ENP and enlargement

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.

A pol­i­cy doc­u­ment on EU enlarge­ment was issued by the Min­istry of For­eign Affairs on 29 Decem­ber 2008.[1] After an endorse­ment of the Union’s enlarge­ment in South­east Europe in gen­er­al, and the can­di­da­cies of Turkey, Croa­t­ia and Mace­do­nia in par­tic­u­lar, there is an expla­na­tion which sheds light not only on Latvia’s atti­tude toward these par­tic­u­lar issues, but also on EU enlarge­ment and the ENP in gen­er­al: “From our own expe­ri­ence, we know how sig­nif­i­cant the Euro­pean per­spec­tive is for each country’s demo­c­ra­t­ic sta­bil­i­ty, devel­op­ment and well-being of the peo­ple. Only close inter-state coop­er­a­tion with­in a region­al and a Euro­pean frame­work can pro­vide them with sol­i­dar­i­ty, region­al devel­op­ment, secu­ri­ty and peace. Latvia is ready to assist these coun­tries in their devel­op­ment because it under­stands the val­ue of such assis­tance on the road to mem­ber­ship of the EU.”[2]

Although the Lat­vian Min­istry of For­eign Affairs has not issued a pol­i­cy doc­u­ment specif­i­cal­ly on the ENP, there is no pauci­ty of offi­cial state­ments on the ENP and relat­ed ini­tia­tives, which demon­strate Latvia’s basic com­mit­ment to the ENP and its desire to make the pol­i­cy more effec­tive and more respon­sive to those to whom it is addressed. Speak­ing to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment on 13 Jan­u­ary 2009, Pres­i­dent Vald­is Zatlers said that “Latvia is and will con­tin­ue to active­ly sup­port and imple­ment the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Policy.”[3] This view is also mir­rored in the doc­u­ments on Latvia’s for­eign pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ties dur­ing the past and the cur­rent EU pres­i­den­cies. There is an entire sec­tion with detailed rec­om­men­da­tions on the imple­men­ta­tion of the ENP in the com­pi­la­tion of pri­or­i­ties dur­ing the French Pres­i­den­cy. The doc­u­ment makes it clear that although Latvia’s prin­ci­pal focus is on the EU’s East­ern neigh­bours, it is impor­tant that ENP is bal­anced and devel­ops coop­er­a­tion also with the EU neigh­bours to the South.[4] In that spir­it, Latvia takes part in the Barcelona Process.

As Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs Māris Riek­stiņš not­ed in his address to the annu­al con­fer­ence of Lat­vian ambas­sadors on 17 Decem­ber 2008 in Rīga, from its incep­tion, Latvia has been a staunch sup­port­er of the EU East­ern Part­ner­ship, and looks for­ward to its launch­ing in spring 2009 dur­ing the Czech EU Presidency.[5] Like­wise, Pres­i­dent Vald­is Zatlers in his speech to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment stressed the sig­nif­i­cance of the East­ern Part­ner­ship and endorsed it enthusiastically.[6]

 

 

 

[1] Lat­vian Min­istry of For­eign Affairs: Eiropas Savienības paplašināšanās, avail­able at: http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/eu/ES-paplasinasanas/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[2] Ibid.
[3] The full text of Pres­i­dent Zatlers speech is avail­able at: http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/Jaunumi/Runas/2009/janvaris/13–1/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[4] Lat­vian Min­istry of For­eign Affairs: Latvi­jai būtiskākie jautāju­mi ārli­etu jomā Fran­ci­jas ES prezi­den­tūras laikā 2008. gada otra­jā pusē, avail­able at: http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/eu/Prioritates/FrancijasPrezidentura/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[5] The full text of the speech is avail­able at: http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/Jaunumi/Runas/2008/decembris/17–1/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[6] The full text of Pres­i­dent Zatlers speech is avail­able at: http://www.mfa.gov.lv/lv/Jaunumi/Runas/2009/janvaris/13–1/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).