WASHINGTON: “Our cooperation with allies and partners provides us with more than a small bit of optimism and faith. It shows us the way forward: together, rooted in our shared values, and committed not only to rebuilding our alliances and partnerships, but to building them back better. If we do this, there are no challenges we cannot and will not overcome” said by Secretary Antony J. Blinken.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is attending the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Foreign Ministerial in Riga, Latvia, November 30-December 1, 2021. During his visit, the Secretary will meet with Latvian President Egils Levits, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics to discuss the U.S.-Latvian shared commitment to NATO and Transatlantic security and to increasing coordination on global challenges.
A Close Alliance and Partnership
The United States and Latvia are strategic allies and partners, with a relationship built on mutual commitments to democracy, freedom, rule of law, security, and prosperity. Having established diplomatic relations in 1922, the United States never recognized the Soviet Union’s forcible occupation of Latvia in 1940. Following the restoration of Latvia’s independence in 1991, the United States worked closely with the people of Latvia as they rebuilt their institutions to ensure their personal liberty, economic freedom, and sovereignty. The United States and Latvia will commemorate the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2022.
As a member of NATO and the European Union (EU), Latvia strongly supports the Transatlantic Alliance and draws from its reform experience during the EU accession process to help others achieve security, stability, and greater prosperity. Latvia regularly contributes to NATO, EU, and United Nation missions, hosts bilateral and multilateral training exercises, and has a long-term relationship with the Michigan National Guard through the State Partnership Program, which brings together military personnel for training, education, and related activities. The United States has provided more than $400 million in security assistance and security cooperation funding to Latvia since 2015 and maintains an enduring military relationship with Latvia through the U.S. European Command.
U.S.-Latvian economic relations are dynamic, and our countries have signed treaties on investment, trade, intellectual property protection, and avoidance of double taxation. In 2020, U.S. bilateral trade with Latvia totaled more than $826 million. Latvia is an active member of the Three Seas Initiative and will host the Three Seas Summit and Business Forum in 2022. The United States and Latvia cooperate on energy security and clean energy deployment through the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation.
The United States and Latvia share concerns about the global pandemic and seek solutions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, while working together to safely restore global travel and trade, and to strengthen global health security to prevent future pandemics.
Strengthening the NATO Alliance
Latvia is a stalwart NATO Ally, and the United States thanks Latvia for hosting the NATO Foreign Ministerial. The United States and Latvia are committed to each other’s defense and work together in critical areas around the world. Latvia contributes vital capabilities to the Alliance’s collective security, including by hosting a NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle group and the NATO Center of Excellence for Strategic Communications.
Countering Threats to Democracy Together
Latvia embodies both the success and the further potential of the shared vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace, and works closely with the United States to promote democracy and advance human rights both regionally and globally. In addition, the United States and Latvia cooperate to confront the threats posed by transnational crime, corruption, and money laundering. The United States is honored to co-finance, with the Government of Latvia, the Advanced Program in European Law and Economics. The program, hosted by the Riga Graduate School of Law, brings representatives of public administration, academia, and NGOs from Central Asian and European Neighborhood countries to gain in depth knowledge in EU law.
The United States appreciates Latvia’s leadership in confronting the challenges arising from the Lukashenka regime in Belarus and its support for the democratic aspirations of Belarusians. The United States and Latvia, along with allies, have a clear-eyed view of Russia’s aggressive behavior towards its neighbors and will work together to counter this behavior.
In February 2020, the United States and Latvia signed a joint declaration on 5G security, and hold regular consultations on cyber policy, cyber security, and critical infrastructure protection through the annual Nordic-Baltic + USA Cyber Consultations and the 3Baltics + USA Cybersecurity Seminar.
Building New Futures through People-to-People Ties
Public diplomacy programs and educational, cultural, and professional exchanges continue to solidify the bilateral relationship. More than 1,600 exchange alumni have taken on leadership roles in Latvia and close to 420 Americans have visited Latvia on exchanges. Programs such as the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship support collaboration and accelerate innovative approaches among youth, emerging voices, and civil society leaders on global issues. Latvian scholars and students from various disciplines participate in the Fulbright Program. The International Visitor Leadership Program brings current and emerging leaders in Latvia together with their U.S. professional counterparts for exchanges on disinformation; transparency and accountability in government; combatting transnational crime; women in politics; and entrepreneurship. The Future Leaders Exchange Program immerses Latvian students in an American high school and host family for an academic year.