On Europe Day, May 9, the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the presentation of a book titled “Return to Europe 1990-2015: From International Recognition to the First Presidency of the European Union,” doing so in the presence of the book’s authors.
The book is a collection of essays written by Latvia’s presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, senior EU officials, MEPs, diplomats and other public figures. Latvia’s path to membership in the EU and NATO and its first decade therein are described by European Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, MEP Sandra Kalniete, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, former Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs, former Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš, Foreign Ministry official Andris Ķesteris, European Commission deputy secretary general Ilze Juhansone, the head EU headquarters in Latvia, Inna Šteinbuka, European Commission official Kristīne Kozlova, European Court of Justice Judge Solvita Harbaceviča, and former Latvian MP Edvīns Inkēns. The book was compiled by Ms Kozlova.
The book was prepared for publication through joint efforts by the European Commission, Latvia’s Foreign Ministry, the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament (Christian Democrats), and the Latvian Association of Political Scientists. The anthology is intended for a broad audience of researchers, high school teachers and students, university instructors and students, public officials, the media, and anyone else who is interested in Latvia’s foreign policy and history.
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said at the presentation that the book is meaningful in several ways. First, it is valuable reading for anyone who is interested in the political and historical processes of Latvia since the restoration of the country’s independence and the link between those processes and the development of Europe during the 20th and 21st centuries. Second, it offers historical evidence about international relations challenges that Latvian diplomats and officials encountered when helping to strengthen and integrate Latvia so as to bring it back into the European family of nations.
Mr Dombrovskis, who is vice president of the European Commission, declared that since the day that Latvia joined the European Union in 2004, Latvians have experienced years of rapid growth and faced serious tests. The Latvian economy has gone through cycles of boom and bust, from overheating to a deep recession, with growth recovering during the past four years. Latvia has shown how tough reforms are possible and that reforms do yield results, said Dombrovskis, provided that these are implemented in close partnership between the government, its social partners, non-governmental organisations and society as a whole. Effective changes require political, economic and social dialogue. Mr Dombrovskis praised the new book as valuable historical evidence of the path that Latvia took to return to growth and to where the country naturally belongs – Europe. Only economically developed and financially powerful countries can counter risks to their national independence and ensure the well-being of their people, he said.
Copies of “Return to Europe 1990-2015” will be donated to all of Latvia’s higher education institutions, high schools, trade schools and public libraries. The book will also be available online in the digital collection of the Latvian National Library, http://dom.lndb.lv/data/obj/67712.html.
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairsread_more
The Latvian Institute has invited its neighbors from the Dome Cathedral Square area in Old Riga to the White Tablecloth Celebration, taking place on Monday, May 2 from 11:00 until 12:30 at the courtyard of the State Cultural Monuments Inspectorate on Pils street 20. With this event the Latvian Institute would like to encourage Latvians throughout the world to start a new tradition on May 4, the Restoration of Independence Day – to gather around white-clad tables with friends and neighbors to celebrate this occasion.
During the celebration friends and neighbors of the Institute will greet each other, wish Latvia happy May 4, sing songs, as well as enjoy treats prepared for the event at a small town bakery in Latvia. Special surprise in honor of this celebration will be presented by cartoonist Māris Bišofs, singer Normunds Ķietis and folklore group “Talsi”.
Latvia’s Centenary Bureau has invited Latvians in and outside Latvia to mark May 4 together with their family, friends and neighbors, to celebrate independence of Latvia and discuss the future goals in preparations for the country’s centenary. In response to this invitation, the Latvian Institute organizes this celebration for its neighbors, and thus encourages Latvians residing outside of Latvia to celebrate May 4 in a similar way no matter where in the world they live at the moment.
The Latvian Institute in cooperation with news portal “Delfi” are requesting the organizers of different White Tablecloth Celebrations, especially the ones outside Latvia, to photograph their events and share pictures on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Draugiem.lv and others), using hashtags #mans4maijs and #BaltaisGaldauts. The portal plans to publish the photo feed on a special May 4 section on www.delfi.lv.
More information about the White Tablecloth Celebration idea: www.lv100.lv.read_more
2016Latvian Institute jointly with foreign embassies in Latvia and diplomats will take part in the Big Cleanup at animal shelter
The Latvian Institute has invited foreign embassies in Latvia to participate in the Big Cleanup on April 23, and together with colleagues from the Institute and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia to clean the surroundings of Jugla animal shelter “Labās mājas”. At the conclusion of the cleanup the participants will walk the shelter dogs in a nearby forest.
The “Big Cleanup” movement has set the goal for Latvia to become the cleanest country in the world in 2018. As we await Latvia’s centenary, we have a great opportunity to demonstrate our cooperation skills and knowledge in the area of organizing cleanup activities at a national level, and show how we can achieve this beneficial goal for the country, as well as share our knowledge with other countries, where environmental and sustainability issues are still a challenge. Many organizations from various countries have shown interest about Latvia’s experience with organizing nationwide cleanup, as Latvia manages to involve everyone into this activity, regular citizens and the President of Latvia included. The greatness of the idea does not depend on the size of the country; what matters is common agreement of the society on what is important,” stresses Aiva Rozenberga, Director of the Latvian Institute.
So far embassies of Sweden, Spain, Canada, Ukraine and Moldova have confirmed their participation in the cleanup. According to the information at Latvian Institute’s disposal the U.S. and U.K. embassies are organzing their own local cleanup activities.
The Latvian Institute in cooperation with the organizers of the Big Cleanup promote the cleanup idea throughout the world as one of the positive experiences that Latvia is proud of and that can be easily adopted in other countries.
Photo: Rojs Maizītisread_more
2016The Latvian Institute invites Latvians throughout the world to participate in the “White Tablecloth Celebration”
In support to the initiative of the Latvian Centenary Bureau, the Latvian Institute invites Latvians in and outside Latvia together with their loved ones to take part in the “White Tablecloth Celebration” on May 4, the Independence Restoration Day. To encourage people to prepare for this celebration, as the weather got warmer, the staff of the Latvian Institute organized its own “try-out” version of the “White Tablecloth Celebration” in a courtyard of Āgenskalns neighborhood in Rīga on April 7.
The “White Tablecloth Celebration” idea is simple: family, friends and neighbors from the same house or several neighboring houses get together around the same table, share a light jointly prepared meal, as well as use the chance to discuss the future plans of their courtyard, neighborhood, city, region and country. The anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of Latvia that was a deciding factor and a new beginning for Latvia in 1990 could further serve as an inspiration to many other essential initiatives.
The ideas for the “White Tablecloth Celebration” are many, for instance, neighbors could plant flowers together, decorate their house, courtyard, or paint a fence. Playing a musical instrument or singing together, as well as preparing a meal, Nordic walking, riding bikes around the block, positive competitions, or simply getting to know each other, or strengthening neighborly relations could easily be a part of the celebration as well.
The Latvian Institute invites everyone, who will celebrate this event together with their neighbors on May 4 or other dates around that time in Latvia or other countries of the world, to capture this moment on camera and share the photos on social media, adding a hashtag #mans4maijs or #BaltaisGaldauts. We encourage people to post photos with these hashtags on Draugiem.lv, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and through other channels.
The “White Tablecloth Celebration” will also serve as a starting point for a new initiative of the Latvian Institute – the opening of the new official Facebook account in Latvian “Kaut kas mīļš no Latvijas” (“Something lovely from Latvia”). We invite everyone, who speaks Latvian in and outside of Latvia, to join this community. “With this Facebook page we would like to join all Latvians and Latvia’s friends, who know Latvian, all around the world in one joint virtual network,” says the Director of the Latvian Institute, Aiva Rozenberga.
Employees of the Latvian Institute can assure you that organizing a “White Tablecloth Celebration” does not require a lot of resources or effort, but in return it creates many positive emotions. We learned, for example, how many white tablecloths everyone owns, how many traditional Latvian things everyone has at home, and how often do we think about what Latvia means to us.
The Latvian Institute promotes knowledge about Latvia internationally. It includes preparing and disseminating print, audiovisual and interactive information materials, as well as organization of events explaining Latvia. All materials produced by the Latvian Institute are freely accessible to anyone for representational purposes.
Pictures from the “White Tablecloth Celebration” of the Latvian Institute staff in spring 2016:read_more