On Tuesday, 3 September, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima met with a delegation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Irish parliament. The bilateral cooperation of both countries with regard to the diaspora, economics and eradication of human trafficking was discussed during the meeting.
In welcoming the guests in the Foreign Affairs Committee, its Chairman Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš emphasised that Latvia and Ireland share a similar historical experience and that both countries are united by similar cultural characteristics; furthermore, both countries are members of the European Union, and a large number of Latvian nationals are living in Ireland.
At the meeting, Kalniņš informed the Irish colleagues that during this year, the Latvian parliament has introduced substantial amendments to the Citizenship Law, which now, inter alia, permits dual citizenship; he was also interested in how Ireland maintained ties with Irish people living abroad. The Irish parliamentarians mentioned a successful example of communicating with Irish nationals living abroad by pointing out that this year Ireland is undertaking an initiative called The Gathering Ireland 2013, during which different festivities are being held across the country, and the Irish living abroad are invited to return to Ireland.
Member of the Committee Jānis Dombrava (National Alliance of All for Latvia! and For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK) mentioned human trafficking, as well as sham marriages with third-country nationals and forced labour, as serious issues for both Latvia and Ireland. Dombrava reported that 57% of cases when Latvian citizens have become victims of human trafficking have taken place in Ireland; he also emphasised that the parliaments of both countries are cooperating to solve this issue.
The parliamentarians of Ireland acknowledged that this issue is high on the agenda in their country. It has also been discussed by the prime ministers of both countries. At the same time, Ireland is working at improving the legal framework for immigration.
During the meeting, Kalniņš expressed his gratitude to Ireland for the support it has given so far to Latvia’s efforts to become a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and he stressed the fact that in May 2013 our country received an invitation to start accession negotiations. The colleagues from Ireland, in turn, praised the resilience of Latvia’s economy for managing to overcome the recession, and they emphasised that today’s visit clearly testifies to the desire of both countries to boost trade cooperation.
The members of the Irish parliament also viewed favourably Latvia’s decision to introduce the common European currency, the euro, and by mentioning their country as an example, stressed the positive contribution that the single currency will give to Latvia’s economy.
Photos from the meeting are available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saeima/sets/72157635361659284/
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Saeima Press Service