Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Latvian President Changing EU Climate

While Obama’s security pinned down the west side of campus Tuesday morning, black SUVs lined Healy Hall for the arrival of Latvian President Valdis Zatlers.

In an intimate speech and question-and-answer session in Riggs Library, Zalters addressed the issues facing Latvia’s role in the transatlantic world.

Along with discussing security, economy and energy, he stressed a common approach with countries to the east of the European Union, as well as with the United States.

“Latvia firmly stands for the same values as our strategic partner the United States of America,” Zatlers said. “By the way, there was a combat unit formed by Latvian-American soldiers in the operation in Afghanistan. It is highest level of trust and partnership with each other. The son of the general said ‘It’s brotherhood.'”

President Zatlers emphasized his commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the EU, making note of his country’s adherence to the democratic ideals espoused by the larger organizations despite Latvia’s modest physical presence in these organizations. He also defended the strength of the euro by citing its sustained public deficit and long-term stability.

Zatlers carefully dealt with Latvia’s relationship with Russia, reminding the audience of the cooperation that resulted from his official visit to Moscow last December, the first of its kind since the Soviet era. During their meeting, Zatlers and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev discussed easing the remaining tension between the countries, caused by factors like the undocumented Russian population living in Latvia.

Latvia is now eager to collaborate more with Russia and the EU, according to Zatlers.

“We have to maintain the intensity of our political dialogue,” he said. “Latvia is ready to be an active member [of the] NATO-Russian dialogue cooperation.”

While the Japanese nuclear crisis was not addressed directly in his speech, Zatlers discussed what Latvia could offer in terms of their nuclear safety policy. The president, who in 1986 helped in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, shed light on the transparency of the crisis in Japan.

“With my expertise being there in Chernobyl I can stand behind the lines of the newspapers,” said Zatlers. “They are managing it in a very good way. It doesn’t mean that the trouble is over, but I think we have to understand what scale problem they are facing.”

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