On Europe Day, May 9, the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the presentation of a book titled “Return to Europe 1990-2015: From International Recognition to the First Presidency of the European Union,” doing so in the presence of the book’s authors.
The book is a collection of essays written by Latvia’s presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, senior EU officials, MEPs, diplomats and other public figures. Latvia’s path to membership in the EU and NATO and its first decade therein are described by European Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, MEP Sandra Kalniete, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, former Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs, former Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš, Foreign Ministry official Andris Ķesteris, European Commission deputy secretary general Ilze Juhansone, the head EU headquarters in Latvia, Inna Šteinbuka, European Commission official Kristīne Kozlova, European Court of Justice Judge Solvita Harbaceviča, and former Latvian MP Edvīns Inkēns. The book was compiled by Ms Kozlova.
The book was prepared for publication through joint efforts by the European Commission, Latvia’s Foreign Ministry, the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament (Christian Democrats), and the Latvian Association of Political Scientists. The anthology is intended for a broad audience of researchers, high school teachers and students, university instructors and students, public officials, the media, and anyone else who is interested in Latvia’s foreign policy and history.
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said at the presentation that the book is meaningful in several ways. First, it is valuable reading for anyone who is interested in the political and historical processes of Latvia since the restoration of the country’s independence and the link between those processes and the development of Europe during the 20th and 21st centuries. Second, it offers historical evidence about international relations challenges that Latvian diplomats and officials encountered when helping to strengthen and integrate Latvia so as to bring it back into the European family of nations.
Mr Dombrovskis, who is vice president of the European Commission, declared that since the day that Latvia joined the European Union in 2004, Latvians have experienced years of rapid growth and faced serious tests. The Latvian economy has gone through cycles of boom and bust, from overheating to a deep recession, with growth recovering during the past four years. Latvia has shown how tough reforms are possible and that reforms do yield results, said Dombrovskis, provided that these are implemented in close partnership between the government, its social partners, non-governmental organisations and society as a whole. Effective changes require political, economic and social dialogue. Mr Dombrovskis praised the new book as valuable historical evidence of the path that Latvia took to return to growth and to where the country naturally belongs – Europe. Only economically developed and financially powerful countries can counter risks to their national independence and ensure the well-being of their people, he said.
Copies of “Return to Europe 1990-2015” will be donated to all of Latvia’s higher education institutions, high schools, trade schools and public libraries. The book will also be available online in the digital collection of the Latvian National Library, http://dom.lndb.lv/data/obj/67712.html.
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs