Latvia and India are known to share a congenial and cordial relationship ever since India recognized Latvia as a sovereign, independent state and established diplomatic relations in 1992.
All relations however, leave room for improvement. As a Latvian Ambassador I would make key changes such that “Latvia and India may become important partners as the world economy progresses towards the fourth Industrial Revolution where technology and innovation play key roles”; an aspiration of India’s very own Vice President M.Venkaiah Naidu.
Deepening cooperation between India and Latvia requires a new approach at the strategic, political, cultural and economic levels. The first step that guarantees strengthened India-Latvia ties and consular work is the establishment of an Indian Embassy in Rīga, Latvia, and the continued exchange of high-level visits between the two countries. At the strategic level, the two countries also need to establish closer dialogue on key global and regional issues. This will serve to enhance mutual understanding and will enable them to coordinate positions and cooperate more effectively in areas where their interests converge. Given their shared interest in reforming international institutions and preserving the multilateral rules-based order, they should also expand engagement on maritime issues.
In addition, the dialog between Latvia and India needs to be further expanded in areas such as education, information and communications technology, transport and logistics as well. The country of Latvia has developed comparative advantages in niche technologies, which provide opportunities for India to tap into best practices as it develops its own capacity and for both sides to reap exponential rewards by combining Latvian technological capabilities with Indian resources, human and otherwise. The advantageous geographic position of Latvia and the country’s developed transport infrastructure could prove to be of great importance to Indian entrepreneurs residing in Latvia.
Given their shared interest in stabilising Afghanistan, the two sides could cooperate in delivering assistance to reconstruction efforts. At the military level, in Afghanistan and beyond, they can exchange experiences gained through their participation in international peace operations and collaborate where possible.
Given the huge asset Latvia has proved to be, and the higher premium it places on India, it would be a request of the Latvian administration for India to remould the structure of its foreign ministry, namely the Central Europe Division which at present does not distinguish between diverse states that are members of the EU and those that aren’t. At the political level, it is important for India to adopt a more coordinated approach towards the three Baltic states and restructure its institutions to reflect this.
Cooperation in education and science is conducive to closer relations between the states. Raising the profile of Latvia in the Indian consciousness as we have done on our end, deepening people-to-people ties, along with fostering cultural exchanges and academic cooperation, will create a stronger and more stable foundation for Indo-Latvian ties.
The shared commitment to democracy, rule of law, and the promotion of peace and stability underpins the convergence of Indian and Latvian strategic interests.
With increased cooperation the two countries are sure to walk hand in hand in all spheres, including business and investment, cultural and academic cooperation and people to people connect; bring goodwill and prosperity to both.
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