Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Latvian Ambassador Bullish On EU; Not Worried About Russia, Greece

This article appeared on the Illinois Public Media News website on March 20, 2015.

President Barack Obama receives His Excellency Andris Razans Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia,
during an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office

Ambassador Andris Razāns has served as Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Latvia to the United States and Mexico since July of 2012 and 2013 respectively. He was the keynote speaker of last week’s European Union Day sponsored by the European Union Center at the University of Illinois. This is currently an important time for the Baltic state as Latvia is serving as President of the European Union Council. In short, this means Latvia is responsible for of organizing EU working groups at all levels and putting forward an agenda for the EU.

Ambassador Razāns is confident that Greece and the EU will come to an agreement over reforms and monetary aid to ease the country's monetary problems. "I don't think we will be in a situation when Greece might be leaving the EU. I can't see that this at all stands on the table," said Razāns. He added that he believes continued fiscal reforms are the only way for Greece to make lasting progress with their financial difficulties - a process that he says worked well for Latvia in the early 2000s. "It's important that countries that do face difficulties and challenges act fast and implement reforms that really put their home in order."

Razāns is similarly confident that Latvia will not experience the same Russian aggression as Ukraine, despite a few similarities. They too are home to a large ethnic Russian minority and share a border with Russia. "I think there is quite a big misperception describing ethnic Russians in Latvia as a consolidated group of that will immediately engage. It's not like that. There are different groups...I can't see the same condition out in the Baltics," said Razāns.

Russian aggression is fresh in the memories of the Latvian people. They did not win their independence from the Soviet Union until 1991. It was an independence that was largely aided by song, a period called the Singing Revolution. "We have in the Baltics a unique tradition in European Choir singing ... usually it worked in a very profound way to consolidate the public opinion and public resolve in difficult moments in the history of Latvian people," said Razāns. "These traditions are alive. Latvian people like to sing."

Story source: WILL


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