RIGA - On March 28, in Seattle, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica (New Unity), visited the University of Washington, which offers the only Baltic Studies Program in the United States of America, LETA learned from the ministry.
Kalnina-Lukasevica delivered a lecture on challenges to the Baltic region’s security and economy to students taking a course in European Studies, in which she underlined the importance of unwavering support by the European Union and NATO for Ukraine. In her replies to questions from the students, the Parliamentary Secretary spoke about the political, military, financial and humanitarian support, and the upcoming decision-making process to enable Ukraine to become a candidate for EU membership. The Parliamentary Secretary devoted special attention to the regional and global economic impact of the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine. Kalnina-Lukasevica outlined the decisions already taken towards the strengthening of the Baltic States’ security and energy independence, and policies pursued by the EU and Latvia to counter Russia’s propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
“We must be ready for substantial and continued support to Ukraine while working diligently on strengthening the resilience of our societies. The strategic security environment has been irrevocably changed throughout the Euro-Atlantic area, and the new reality of today demands a fundamental shift in our deterrence and defense solutions across all domains,” the Parliamentary Secretary said.
As part of her visit, the Parliamentary Secretary met with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Dianne Harris; the Divisional Dean of Humanities, Brian Reed; the Head of the Baltic Studies Program, Guntis Smidchens; and the Slavic, Baltic, and East European Studies Librarian, Michael Biggins, as well as with students, faculty and supporters of the program. The Latvian delegation got acquainted with the Baltic Studies Program, discussed the aspects related to its implementation and explored prospects for broader cooperation.
On Sunday, March 27, Kalnina-Lukasevica took part in the official event held to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Latvian Association of the State of Washington and the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Latvian Church and Community Centre. She also visited the Seattle Latvian Church and Latvian school. The Parliamentary Secretary thanked the long-standing President of the Latvian Association of the State of Washington, Sarmite Davidsone, for her contribution and selfless efforts of holding the Latvian community together and taking care to preserve the Latvian language and culture among the diaspora community with a special focus on the younger generation.
Also taking part in the visit were the Latvian Ambassador to the United States, Maris Selga, and the Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora, Elita Gavele. Special support for the preparation of the visit was provided by the members of the Latvian Association of the State of Washington and UW graduates, Imants Holmkvists and Marisa Graudina.
Latvia’s cooperation with the University of Washington began in 2007 on the initiative of the World Federation of Free Latvians. As part of its Baltic Studies Program, the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington offers courses in the Latvian language, literature and cultural history, as well as an individual course to develop reading and writing skills. A visiting lecturer from Latvia also joins the faculty each year.