ONE STEP CLOSER: Edgars Rinkevics said the invitation is confirmation of Latvia’s success in getting through the crisis.
RIGA - The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting decided on May 30 to invite Latvia to begin OECD accession talks, reports LETA. Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis wrote in his Twitter account that he thanks the other OECD member states for their support for Latvia and giving it the opportunity to join the organization. Membership in the OECD will mean new opportunities to Latvian business and more efficient protection of the country’s economic interests around the world.
Dombrovskis also thanked the Foreign Ministry’s team for a job well done.
Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Reform Party) is very pleased at the OECD decision and emphasizes that launching the OECD accession talks has been one of Latvia’s top foreign policy priorities since the country’s accession to the European Union and NATO.
“For Latvia, this invitation means that the world’s most developed countries recognize our reforms and the government and society’s joint work in overcoming the economic and financial crisis,” said the minister.
President Andris Berzins also thanked the Foreign Ministry and all other Latvian authorities and institutions that were working for several years so that Latvia could receive the invitation to the OECD accession talks. Berzins believes this to be a major achievement in Latvia’s foreign policy. “Although the accession process may not be easy, the invitation means a positive international assessment of Latvia’s macroeconomic policy,” said the president.
The Foreign Ministry says that, upon joining the OECD, Latvia will be considered a high-income country in the OECD classification of country risks. Furthermore, the OECD member’s status will increase Latvia’s international profile beyond the European Union, make the country more attractive for investment, and improve access to lending markets that could be used for financing major projects that are important to the national economy. Likewise, Latvia’s accession to the OECD will contribute to the development of quality public administration and better public services to residents.
The government has named joining the OECD a top priority in Latvia’s foreign policy. Rinkevics submitted Latvia’s application for OECD membership to the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Latvia last June.
Several OECD member states have said that, thanks to the country’s active work, Latvia is among the most noticeable OECD candidates.
The invitation will be followed by accession talks, and OECD member states will make the final decision on inviting Latvia to join the organization after the talks conclude. This could happen in eighteen months at the earliest, but usually the process takes two to three years. This means that Latvia could become a member of the OECD as soon as in 2015.
The last time the OECD decided to expand was in 2007, when the bloc decided to draft accession roadmaps for Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia. The remaining 49 countries, including Latvia, were not invited to accession talks.