Sri Lanka and Latvia have strengthened economic ties for greater bilateral cooperation


Thomas F. Daetwyler, Honorary Consul General, welcoming Finance Minister, Ravi Karunanayake at the National Day celebrations

Proposing the toast — Chief Guest, Minister D. M. Swaminathan and Daetwyler (Pics by Dharamasena Welipitiya)

By Steve A. Morrell

Tourism, education, trade exchanges including healthy bilateral relations are ongoing cooperation indicators that continued to foster good relations between the governments of Latvia and Sri Lanka, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister, D. M. Swaminathan said.

Speaking at the Latvia National Day celebrations at the Hilton Colombo Residences, he said cultures of both countries have common features going back many centuries yet with their own identities.

Diplomatic relations between Latvia and Sri Lanka were established in 1996, and since then bilateral trade had grown. Additionally, tourism and education, including medicine, the two major subjects that engaged both countries, are major exchange areas that both nations benefited, he noted.

Minister Swaminathan said that Sri Lanka’s population is around 20 million whereas Latvia’s is approximately 2.3 million. Although such wide differences were recorded, economic activity between both countries was strong. Particularly that interaction is of relative convenience, because English was also a major language in use.

The peace dividend and improvement in tourism were areas of corporation that brought about close interaction between both countries, he stressed.

Honorary Consul General for Latvia, Thomas F. Daetwyler, welcoming Minister Swaminathan, the chief guest at the event, said there is no alternative to an international order based on the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights that would provide the basis for long lasting peace and security.

Latvia became an independent state on November 18, 1918. Its geographical placing on the coast of the Baltic Sea rendered its vulnerability to Hitler’s Germany, and eventually to the dictatorship of the dark period of Stalin’s rule in Russia, he said.

Almost one 100 years ago, friendly nations helped protect the independence and security of the newly proclaimed Latvian State, Daetwyler said. "For a decade, we have been allies in the European Union and NATO, and therefore, Latvia stands prepared to offer support to friendly nations affected in political and moral terms, but also fight for our shared values together".

The past year has been rich in events and extremely challenging for Latvia, which had successfully held presidency of the Council of the European Union; shoulder to shoulder with the country’s friends and allies, he noted. "We shall continue working on the strengthening of external security of Latvia and its economic growth. We will also actively work to promote Europe’s cooperation with its neighbors and with countries of Central Asia".

Trade between Sri Lanka and Latvia grew significantly over the past few years, Daetwyler emphasized.

The Republic of Latvia borders Estonia, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania; and has long since served as a bridge between Western Europe and Russia. Most foreign languages spoken are English, Russian and German.

Latvia, was under German, Polish and Swedish rule, and at the beginning of the 1700’s under Russian rule. Latvia was declared an independent State on August 31, 1994, when the last contingent of Russian forces left the country.


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