Latvia gets a little help from its friends

  • 2013-09-13
  • From wire reports

RIGA - The Euro Conference Latvia took place on Sept. 12 at the Great Guild Hall in Riga, in which the economic policy makers and economists of Latvia and the European Union discussed developments of the euro area and improvement of its governance, reported Bank of Latvia.

This is a historic moment for Latvia, which on Jan. 1, 2014 will become the 18th euro area member by joining a monetary union in which more than 330 million people use a single currency, the euro, in their financial transactions.
The euro introduction brings to a close a long and challenging period, during which integration of Latvian economy and monetary policy took place for successful participation in the euro area. Since regaining independence, important economic and social reforms have taken place in Latvia and a modern and democratic state has been built with a dynamic economy.

In his conference address at the conference, ECB President Mario Draghi reminded his audience of the roots of European integration that stretch all the way back to the Hanseatic League. “I am pleased that by joining the euro next year, Latvia is strengthening its place at the heart of Europe,” Draghi said.

Vice President of the European Commission, Commissar for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, acknowledged the progress Latvia has achieved in the integration of its economy and the reforms carried out in putting its economic house in order. “Welcome to the euro area!” Rehn said.

Governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmars Rimsevics looked back on what Latvia has accomplished after the restoration of independence. Just twenty-five years ago, the thought of a free and independent country was but a dream. It was even more difficult to imagine that Latvia could become a full member of the European Union and NATO or that we could have currency shared by 330 million Europeans.

“Nevertheless, all these dreams were turned into reality. How did it happen? First, there were clearly set aims, then – a strong determination and very decisive action. And second – we received invaluable support from our friends,” stressed Rimsevics.

Euro introduction will mean two things for Latvia: opportunities and responsibilities. The euro as a trusted and secure currency will provide Latvia with better opportunities for external trade, attraction of investments, creation of jobs and promotion of economic growth.

Yet the euro is no magic wand; it is an instrument for continued structural reforms that are still necessary for Latvia’s development. In the words of Rimsevics: “The euro establishes a solid basis for further structural reforms that are still necessary for our economy. The euro will provide excellent opportunities for our economic development, but it will first and foremost depend on ourselves, both on policy makers and on businesses, how we are able to use them to the benefit of our people and the future of our country.”

As part of the event, the Governor of the ECB Draghi presented the Governor of the Bank of Latvia Rimsevics with a Euro Star, a symbolic key to the euro area.