Diplomatic relations between the UAE and Latvia were established in 1995. Since then there has been great political and economic cooperation between the two countries, including accreditation of ambassadors on both sides. Last year, the embassy of Latvia was opened in Abu Dhabi.
Domestically and internationally, Latvia has also achieved a lot. The country joined the EU in 2004 and now holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Moreover, Latvia joined the Schengen group of countries in 2007 and the eurozone last year.
Since the adoption of the single currency, the country has become one of the fastest growing economies in the eurozone. To foster further economic growth, Latvia plans to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) next year.
But our interests extend beyond Europe. The UAE is of particular importance to Latvia as an economic partner. We see great potential in developing this relationship.
The investment and development agency of Latvia has appointed its representative to the UAE this year to enhance cooperation between the two countries. Latvia would also like to cooperate with the UAE in the energy sector, transport, logistics, real estate and tourism. Our country also sees cooperation possibilities in culture and education exchange. To this end, a business delegation of 20 Latvian entrepreneurs will arrive in Abu Dhabi tomorrow to explore opportunities and develop commercial relations.
Since establishing an embassy in Abu Dhabi, our goal has been to go beyond simply providing consular support for the 400 strong Latvian diaspora in UAE. We also want to promote the political relationship that our two countries enjoy.
This visit is designed to boost cooperation via the ministerial programme and the business mission. As an icing on the cake, Vestard Shimkus, the renowned Latvian pianist and composer, will give a concert in the recital hall at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus tomorrow. The concert will celebrate the Latvian presidency of the Council of the European Union, which expires at the end of next month.
This trip is also designed to illustrate the maturity of our newly opened embassy. In less than nine months we have managed to become fully functional and run our operations to a high enough standard that we are able to host such an important visit.
This is also a good indicator of the very constructive, professional and limitless environment that the UAE offers to get things done.
One must also point out that this visit is also a great example of the commitment of Latvia (and the EU in general) towards the UAE. Just a few weeks ago the last visa formalities were lifted and Emiratis can now freely travel to the Schengen group of countries.
This was a historic moment because the UAE is the first Arab country and the first GCC member to achieve such exclusive status. We are happy that this joint effort was finalised during the presidency of Latvia. We look forward to welcoming you to Latvia in the future.
Edgars Rinkevics is Latvia’s minister of foreign affairs. He begins a two-day visit to Abu Dhabi on June 1.
Rudolfs Bremanis is charge d’affaires of the embassy of Latvia in the UAE.