Prodi encourages Latvia to develop

  • 2000-02-17
RIGA (BNS) - European Commission President Romano Prodi and EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenther Verheugen during their visit to Riga on Feb. 10 encouraged Latvia to continue reforms and hoped for further success in its efforts.

Verheugen said that Latvia has a realistic chance to catch up with the so-called fast-track candidates. It has only to keep strengthening its administrative capacity and step up efforts to close the current social and eonomic gap.

"The European Union is willing to accept Latvia as a full member and grant the required funding," Verheugen said.

This year Latvia could receive some 100 million euros or thrice as much as in previous years from the EU, he added.

Prodi hoped for strong development in all three Baltic states as they were already shaping into competitive economies and improving their state administrations, he said.

"Latvia is not and will not be a problem country," Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele said. His state was aware of its drawbacks.

Therefore, the government's future priorities will lie in the spheres specified by the European Commission, namely, public integration, state administration and regional and economic policies.

Skele expressed his satisfaction over Latvia having been given a chance to proceed with the pre-accession talks according to its capacity.

Skele was certain that his country has and will have "sufficient capacity" to open new chapters and to quickly close the completed negotiations.

Skele reiterated he was convinced that Latvia will be able to complete the talks by 2003.

Verheugen also hoped Latvia will not have "to lose sleep" over the negotiations regularly. He was optimistic and said the country was on the right path

Prodi noted that some difficulties were likely to occur during the pre-accession talks, but they will have to be faced by both Latvia and the European Commission since relations had to be reviewed "in minor detail" during the negotiations.