Monday, 3 December 2007
Another Nation with Wales in the European Union
I will not be in Wales over the Christmas and New Year holiday. I will be in Latvia which shares many similarities with Wales. I am not leaving for a week or so and will keep up the blogging in the meantime.
- Alan in Dyfed
Wales and Latvia
Wales and Latvia, lands of a similar size, history and tradition, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 12 May 2004, soon after Latvia joined the EU. The First Minister of Wales Rhodri Morgan and the Latvian Minister of Economy Juris Lujans signed it at the time of the President Vaira Vike-Freiberga’s visit to the UK. The agreement is based on four pillars - economic co-operation, education and culture, EU issues and political/governance matters.
Cooperation with Wales
On 13 May 2004, as part of the visit of the Latvian President to Wales, the then Minister of Economy, Juris Lujans, and Rhodri Morgan as First Minister for Wales signed a Latvia - Wales Memorandum of Understanding. Its goal was to review the existing areas of co-operation and to identify those for further co-operation. Latvia is the first EU member state, which has executed such a document with Wales. Coordination of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding is carried out by the government of the National Assembly for Wales in conjunction with the Latvian Embassy in London. The Latvian Honorary Consul in Wales, Mr Andris Taurins, also makes a significant input.
Since execution of the Memorandum of Understanding co-operation has developed successfully; various projects have been implemented, including
* in July 2006, the Latvian Minister of Economy Aigars Stokenbergs visited Wales. Simultaneously, Latvian-Wales Business Forum took place.
* in August 2005, the Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks visited Wales;
* trade missions of the Welsh businessmen in Latvia in 2003 and 2005;
* traineeship of Indra Freiberga from the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIDA) in the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) in April 2005;
* establishment of academic contacts between the University of Wales and the University of Latvia;
* joint project by the Latvian Academy of Culture and Glamorgan University Digital Cities and Other Stories;
* visit by representatives of the Wales Tourist Board to Latvia in July 2004 and participation in a conference organized by the Latvian Tourism Development Agency. Participation of representatives from the Latvian Tourism Development Agency in the Cardiff Holiday and travel show in February 2005;
* several seminars for sharing experience arranged by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) on management of EU Structural funds have taken place;
* a joint project by the National libraries of Latvia, Wales, Estonia and Finland is currently in the development phase;
* in 2005 a number of concerts by Latvian musicians took place in Wales;
* in October 2004, 11 representatives from Latvian local governments visited Wales. The Welsh Local Government Association is looking for local governments - co-operation partners in Latvia.