RIGA - The Spanish Ambassador to Latvia, Consuelo Femenia, says that she “trusts” in her dialogue with Latvian officials regarding its 2015 Presidency of the European Union. According to the ambassador, Spain, which held the position for 6 months starting January 2010, has a lot to offer Latvia after being the first European country to be in charge of the Union after the Lisbon treaty came into effect. To attend these and other issues Spain wishes to promote “high level” meetings with Latvia “soon.”
According to Femenia, bilateral relations are in a mature phase with Latvia. The Spanish ambassador reveals that “both Latvia and Spain share a common vision and common interests in general, both are partners of the European Union and NATO, so more is shared, than not.” The ambassador thinks that “it is perfectly possible to reconcile their positions in the little aspects that separate us” as well. In this context, “the priority of the Embassy is to provide greater depth and dimension to relationships, since there are no major conflicts.”
The representative of Spain says that the target of the Embassy is “furthermore about having more relationships, rather than better ones, [to] have more in all fields.” Femenia highlights that there is potential for development in commercial areas in Latvia: “there are also many opportunities for cooperation and interaction in the cultural field, we found a lot of sympathy on the part of Latvians to the Spanish language and culture and would like to promote an image that responds to that demand.” In this context, the ambassador hopes to help along the “cultural vitality that combines a rich history in art, painting, architecture, music, along with new manifestations present such as film, fashion, contemporary architecture.” In culture, the objective is to expand the vision of Spain, she adds.
Regarding politics, the goal is to promote the relationship in all matters that may be of mutual benefit, as well as establishing contacts at various levels. Not only in economics, but also in opportunities for growth in trade relations, both imports and exports and investment in key sectors of the Latvian economy.
From Femenia’s point of view, the Spanish EU experience can be of interest to Latvia. “Sometimes it is considered that Spain is at the other end of Europe, but being on the periphery of the EU allows us to have very similar views on certain issues. In the end, Europe is not so big, even geographically. This distance makes us neighboring countries that have, or have had, common problems.”
The Spanish ambassador recalls that Spain was the first country to hold office after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which was an important moment for the establishment of new European institutions and the implementation of new mechanisms within the EU. “Dialogue between Spanish officials and Latvians on what can be a presidency post-Lisbon can be very useful in the coming years,” declares Femenia.
The representative of the government of Spain in Latvia has noticed that “Latvia wants to break its isolation in terms of energy and transportation, and have good transport connections domestically, but also with the rest of Europe.” As states at the exterior of the EU, according to Femenia, “both for Spain and Latvia, the issues of the peripheral [countries] of the EU are important; we must work hard to improve our instruments of locality.”
Regarding Spanish investments, “many months have yet to pass for large investments take place,” but “the important thing is to strengthen the lines of work in Latvia that point to a stabilization and economic recovery and that naturally produce a greater interest from foreign investment.”
The ambassador explains that interesting sectors in Latvia for the development of the country include transport, tourism, renewable energy and that “in all of these areas Spain has great experience.”
Major investments by Spanish companies in Latvia so far include building a power plant in Riga, as “an example for other Baltic countries.” The future is also in culture: “coinciding with the cultural capital of Riga in 2014.” There have already been some cultural activities with great success and that is why she predicts that Spain “will continue to work with an eye to the cultural capital.”