Latvia Pledges to Help Armenia’s EU Drive

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers with President Serzh Sarkisian

RIGA (AFP)—Latvia pledged Wednesday to lend its expertise to help fellow former Soviet republic Armenia follow its path into the European Union.

“Latvia is ready to help with its expertise. We have high-quality EU expertise,” Latvian President Valdis Zatlers told reporters alongside his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian.

Zatlers said the advantage of the two republics’ shared history – communication is easy because most of their political elites speak Russian, having been schooled in the Soviet era – and post-independence reforms.

“We understand the Armenian local situation because Latvia itself has gone through this process,” he said.

Sarkisian said the helping hand of countries such as Latvia was crucial for Armenia.

“Latvian-Armenian cooperation is viewed by us in the context of Armenia’s integration in the EU,” he said.

The 27-nation EU’s ties with Armenia and five other former Soviet republics will be in the spotlight later this year at a summit of leaders involved in the bloc’s Eastern Partnership program.

The EU launched the program with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in 2009 in an effort to enhance economic and political ties with those countries.

“The Eastern Partnership opens up new prospects and elevates to a new qualitative level relations with the EU and its member states,” Sarkisian said.

“Considering the fact that Latvia is one of the advocates of the Eastern Partnership and has rich experience in European integration, we’ve agreed to step up our cooperation in this,” he added.

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