Latvia can serve as a source of inspiration to all of the Eastern Partnership countries, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization Roberto Azevedo said during a meeting with President Andris Berzins in Riga today.
Latvia has always striven to ensure stability, Azevedo said, and as the current presiding country at the Council of the European Union, Latvia has heard the different opinions of various EU member states, including regarding issues of economic development, he said. Berzins told Azevedo that the Eastern Partnership and fostering cooperation with Central Asian countries were one of the main priorities of Latvia's foreign policy. As a result of the mutual sanctions between the EU and Russia, the popular opinion of Latvia being a transit country has been changing, he added.
Azevedo enquired about Latvia's vision of the Eastern Partnership countries, noting that Latvia could serve as a source of inspiration for each of these countries regarding the implementation of the principles of democracy, doing consistent work in various international organizations, and observing the rule of law.
Small countries with small domestic markets and diversified exports benefit greatly from WTO membership, Azevedo said. Berzins agreed with Azevedo, adding that Latvia, as a WTO member, has always striven for constructive solutions.
Azevedo said Latvia was a reliable partner and goal-oriented member of the WTO, said Azevedo, thanking Berzins for Latvia's support for the WTO's efforts.
Azevedo also said he hoped that recent developments at the WTO would pave the way to more productive talks about trade liberalisation in the future.
There are currently six members of the Eastern Partnership initiative, all of which were formerly part of the Soviet Union: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.