RIGA - The Latvian government reflected its growing confidence on the international political stage when it approved ambitious national foreign policy guidelines for 2006 's 2010 on May 30. The policies reflect a growing belief that Latvia can participate in world affairs and contribute to resolving political disputes while safeguarding its national interests through its membership in various international organizations.
Chief among the new objectives is strengthening national security in close cooperation with other European Union and NATO member states, and working toward an external economic environment that will help Latvia's economic development to continue.
The objectives also call for more Baltic region cooperation, strengthening EU unity, working more closely with the Latvian diaspora and protecting Latvian citizens' interests abroad.
"It is important for Latvia that international organizations exist, develop and adapt to the changes of the contemporary world," a Foreign Ministry press release said.
"However, we should take into account, that international organizations can sometimes make decisions that contradict Latvia's national interests. Therefore it is important that Latvia has made preliminary preparations and gained particular and powerful allies for favorable solutions beyond formal institutional frameworks," the statement said.
In order to achieve its policy objective of having more impact on the international stage, Latvia plans to strengthen bilateral relations with other countries and make maximum use of international institutions and organizations.
The new strategy also aims to improve and expand Latvia's diplomatic and consular representation network in the world by opening two new diplomatic missions per year.
While the plans stress that more needs to be done to increase regional cooperation with Russia, which should be dealt with on "pragmatic" grounds, they also reflect continued strategic support for the U.S.A.
"Finding a common solution for lifting the visa regime is a significant issue, which would promote further development of contact between people and ensure a basis for wider economic cooperation. It is important to keep up a dialogue on the traditional and new security challenges, including energy security, combating terrorism and curbing weapons of mass destruction," the Foreign Ministry said. Also high on the agenda is a determined effort to promote a positive image of Latvia abroad and to continue to disseminate the country's 20th century history.