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[Aldis Pasrosky, Baltics Contributor]
Latvians Online: With praise for Latvia‘s booming democracy and resilience in times of trouble from non-else than America‘s Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, ringing in their ears, Latvians have a lot to be proud of these days.
Mrs Clinton is reported to have said after a meeting with Latvia’s Foreign Minister, Girts Valdis Kristovkis: ‘….the sky is the limit’ now for Latvia…it is a democracy that is demonstrating by its actions how it can build a better future for its own people… The United States has maintained an unbroken friendship with Latvia throughout its modern history, when it was at war and under occupation and since it acquired its independence from the Soviet Union, and we have long admired the Latvian people’s resilience throughout very difficult times,” (transcript of the press conference as distributed by the State Department and reported by Latvians Online).
The minister had met with Mrs. Clinton during his recent visit to Washington, D.C. for discussions concerning economic development and world-wide security issues. Latvia’s membership of NATO, its continuing support for America in the missions in Afghanistan, the diversification of its energy resources, its efforts to deal with the current economic crisis and its firm support for the democratic movement in Belarus had also been discussed.
While the meeting with Clinton may not have delivered any firm commitments regarding aid, or economic co-operation with Latvia, Mr. Kristovskis was hopeful of the United States’ interest in making investments in Latvia. He also said that the US-backed ‘Northern Distribution Network‘ – a project for the transport of supplies to Afghanistan which involves the port of Riga, would engage Latvian entrepreneurs.
Latvia is a country of around 2.2 million inhabitants. Its national langauge is Latvian, but Russian and English are widely spoken. It is in the Baltics and borders Estonia in the north and Lithuania in the south. The Russian border is in its east. In 2004, it became a member of the European Union and is currently one of EU countries hardest hit by the financial crisis. It’s capital, Riga, the largest city in the Baltic region, is a major transhipment port.