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Monday 25.06.2018 | Name days: Maiga, Milija
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Prime Minister: Latvia is prepared to lead Europe’s big stage

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvia’s presidency over the European Union Council is not some special prize and reason to celebrate all of the six months given to us. It is a big responsibility, says Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, in her reply to the question asked by singer Lauris Reiniks in regard to the upcoming challenges and benefits.

We will soon celebrate the coming of the New Year and Latvia will soon make a début as the presiding country over the EU Council. Where do you plan to celebrate this day?

I will be with my greatest treasure – children, grandchildren and relatives. This is the perfect time to discuss the made decisions and set up new goals, as well as rest and keep up strength.

If we look at everything from a wider perspective, the next year for Latvia will begin with a challenge – successful realization of Latvia’s presidency over the EU Council. This is tremendous responsibility. But I believe we are prepared to lead Europe. Lithuania also expects significant changes to come next year, as they plan to join Eurozone. This change was significant for Latvia. This is why I would like to congratulate and support Lithuania in its choice. We will all benefit from this, as a single currency will contribute to economic growth of all Baltic States.

This will be the second year for us under European seasoning. We welcomed this year with introduction of euro. Next year will come with Latvia’s presidency. What do you think will be Latvia’s next goal in Europe?

We should think widely and concentrate on Latvia’s welfare and promote belief and affiliation with Latvia. As an EU member state, we have everything we need to improve the quality of life here. We remain one of the most rapidly growing economies in Europe and we have the ability to develop our national economy with support from the EU. We should believe in our own powers and we need to keep in mind that we are a strong nation. Everyone should believe in their strengths, because big things begin with little contributions. At the same time, it is worth keeping in mind that Latvia’s economic growth is tightly linked to the situation in Europe. This is why we have set quite ambitions goals for our presidency. A stronger or more competitive Europe is key to Latvia’s future growth, the foundation for our welfare and smart economic growth. The strengthening of the digital potential has already allowed us to create world-class products with high added value, but we still have much to strive to accomplish. The progress of the Eastern Partnership will serve to strengthen security in our region, which will definitely have an impact on the mood of the population.

What do you think are the main benefits Latvia has picked up from the decision to join the EU?

In the context of the tense geopolitical situation I will underline the most important factor – we are not alone. More than ten years ago, the people of Latvia made the decision to join the European Union. Now we are one of the economically strongest countries in the region, we carry out economic activities on a single market, our children can study in any European university and we are free to travel and realize our dreams. The most important form of assistance Latvia’s national economy has received is the ability to request funding from EU funds to help finance development projects. It is also worth mentioning support for our farmers – without EU subsidies, state support would have been ten times lower than it is now.

The EU was originally formed in order to ensure long-term peace in this region. However, our unpredictable eastern neighbour, who attacks another country and allows his own economy to crumble, only serves to increase uncertainty… How safe can we feel in Latvia, Europe?

Security was and remains the main priority of my previous and new government. This includes Latvia’s economic, social and energy security. This also means security in its most basic of definitions – security as a whole. Latvian main security guarantee is membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It should be added that the EU is not a military alliance. In regard to the financial side of things, we see that timely introduction of euro in Latvia provides economic security to the country, its residents and entrepreneurs.

What should we keep in mind in order to make our first entry to the big stage in the EU Council as bright and convincing and possible?

This is a big event for Latvia. However, we need to understand that the status of a presiding country is not a special prize and not a reason to celebrate over the course of the six months we have been given. This is tremendous responsibility and we need to do everything we can to realize it. I agree – the full attention of the European Union will be concentrated on Riga in the next six months. This is why I urge all residents to be open and hospitable toward our guests, as strong relations are the key for a safe future. Our presidency will be the time when many foreign officials will visit our country for the first time. The memories they will carry with them about Latvia will depend on us and our actions.

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