Latvia: Bilateral Relations Latvia

19.02.2019 - Article

Last updated in February 2017

Political relations

Germany established diplomatic relations with Latvia on 28 August 1991, soon after the country regained its independence on 21 August 1991.

Bilateral relations are close and friendly. Germany has supported Latvia on its way to joining the European Union and establishing Euro-Atlantic ties and has helped the country to reform its economy, administration and judiciary.

Latvia’s relations with Germany have taken on a new quality through the country’s accession to the EU and NATO in April and May 2004, respectively. Latvia has also been a member of the Schengen area since 2008 and of the eurozone since 1 January 2014.

The Latvian side officially describes Germany as a “strategic partner and ally in Europe”.

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Latvia in August 2014. Federal President Gauck paid an official visit to the country in summer 2013, and in February 2017 his last overseas visit as Germany’s head of state took him to Latvia. Then Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Latvia in his capacity as Foreign Minister a total of seven times, most recently in May and September 2016. Latvia’s Prime Minister Kučinskis travelled to Berlin twice in 2016 for talks with Federal Chancellor Merkel. On 17 April 2015, the Foreign Ministers of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Latvia published a joint statement expressing the two countries’ intention to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Economic relations

Germany remains one of Latvia’s principal trading partners. In 2015, Germany accounted for 11.3 per cent of Latvia’s total imports, putting Germany in second place among the country’s suppliers. Of Latvia’s total exports, 6.3 per cent went to Germany, which ranked fourth among buyers of Latvian goods. Germany is also among the leading direct investors in Latvia. Major investors include E.ON Ruhrgas AG, Ergo International AG (Insurances), Gebr. Knauf Verwaltungsgesellschaft and Glasseiden Oschatz GmbH.

Some 1,200 companies with German capital interest are active in Latvia, mainly in the metal processing, service and commercial sectors. The German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania offers German businesses a direct contact partner in Riga. Germany is also a priority partner of Latvia in vocational training and through the Chamber of Commerce provides the Latvian government with expertise in this area.

Bilateral agreements have been concluded on the protection and promotion of investments (April 1993), air, sea and road transport (April 1993) and double taxation (February 1997).

Cultural relations

Cultural relations between Latvia and Germany are very close. For historical reasons, the German language is (still) widely used in the country. There is a lively exchange of cultural workers, scientists, academics, university and school students between the two countries. Latvian choirs, theatre and dance companies, painters, writers and other cultural workers maintain intensive ties with Germany, as do their German counterparts with Latvia. As host of the World Choir Games and as the European Capital of Culture 2014, Riga enjoyed a particularly high international profile.

An important element in the wide-ranging cultural relations between the two countries are the numerous lively twinning arrangements between German and Latvian cities and municipalities and the partnerships between higher education institutions and schools as well as other cultural and social institutions

In 2018, Latvia celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence. Germany participated in the festivities with larger projects (exhibition of the “United Buddy Bears” on Domplatz, Baltic tour of the Berliner Konzerthausorchester).

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