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Kariņš: Latvia is no longer the younger brother – our country’s voice is heard

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Krišjānis Kariņš, Latvia, exports, role, global policy

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš

Latvia is no longer the younger brother on the international arena – our country is heard and its opinion is taken seriously, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš at annual foreign policy debates on Thursday, 23 January.

Kariņš there are four major centres of economy and power in the world: USA, European Union (EU), Russia and China.

«It is clear Latvia stands with EU and its strategic allies from NATO, as well as other organizations. This cooperation with western allies is the foundation for our country’s independence,» said the prime minister, stressing that everything will be done in order to help and provide military security to others.

Latvia’s foreign policy interests include securing independence, Kariņš said again, adding that this can be accomplished within the aspect on politics and economy. In a political aspect Latvia as part of the EU is also part of a wealthier market that has not yet formed as a noteworthy global military player.

«Today EU plays a much larger role in economy. It is also a big centre of values. Democracy, freedom and equality are the values the EU follows. Our country’s special role is strengthening relations with Eastern Partnership Countries,» said Kariņš, stressing that Latvia is interested in extending a helping hand to these countries, demonstrating there is an alternative – not only Russia as a centre of power.

Kariņš reminded that last week he had visited Belarus, which has voiced an open desire to expand cooperation with Latvia, including cooperation with involvement from Latvia’s ports.

«Politically speaking we are in a situation we haven’t been in for long time. Our challenge is related to our own companies. Are our port companies prepared for the cooperation that may have politically matured?» asked Kariņš.

He said it is a major challenge because historically Latvia’s ports have faced different difficulties and stagnation, because for years politicians have expected Russia to divert its freights away from Baltic ports.

The head of the Latvian government said the state has taken control over the largest ports in the country. «We have another challenge before us – further increasing the participation of port-based private companies in development trends and modernization of the global economy. We are a democratic country, this is why we cannot issue a government decree and order private companies to do this or that,» said Kariņš.

«I invite port companies and terminals to consider working with freights headed to Belarus, not just handle freights headed from Russia to the west. This is an opportunity for us to think about our railway’s development,» said Kariņš, adding that it holds great political potential, because economic ties also open the way for human contacts.

«It is in our interest for neighbours to become closer to us and Europe, not turn the other way,» said the prime minister.

Economic development depends on exports and investments, said Kariņš. He urged all diplomats and Latvian Investment Development Agency workers to understand the priority is increasing investments from western allies.

According to Kariņš, the ‘green course’ is an opportunity Latvia needs to use when thinking about potential investments in national economy.

In the context of exports, Kariņš stressed Latvia has grown companies that are becoming more and more competitive on the global market, thinking about exports to the west, east and elsewhere in the world.

«We have work to do to attract investments from western allies in high technologies, without which it is not possible to secure larger wages. The other is improving exports around the world,» said Kariņš.

«In the past Latvia was more of a foreign policy observer, consumer. In recent years, however, Latvia has transformed into an active foreign policy maker,» said Kariņš, stressing the contribution of high-rank officials to Latvia when working in EU structures.

Kariņš is confident Latvia’s voice is heard in the world. Latvia stands with unified market and opposes money laundering.

Read also: Prime minister affirms possibility of carrying oil supplies for Belarus through Latvia

«We are no longer a small country we once were. We are an equal voice that has arguments that others listen to, and that creates policy. We should not shy from this role,» Kariņš said.


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