On Wednesday, 3 October, Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, met with Meira Kumar, Speaker of the Indian Parliament, and invited her to officially visit Latvia. Such a visit would be the first of its kind since the establishment of mutual relations between both countries.
The Speaker of the Saeima and the Speaker of the Indian Parliament met during the 7th Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliaments. During the bilateral meeting, the speakers discussed the relations between Latvia and India, as well as the potential to strengthen cooperation between both countries.
Āboltiņa emphasised that last year marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Latvia and India. The Speaker of the Saeima characterised the relations between both countries as good and constructive with a potential for cooperation in areas such as trade, culture and education. Latvia and India have established good cooperation within international organisations; however, development of bilateral cooperation should also be considered, Āboltiņa stressed.
The Speaker of the Saeima also mentioned facilitation of parliamentary cooperation between Latvia and India, emphasising that a good foundation for this cooperation has been laid as an MP group for cooperation with the counterpart has been set up in each parliament. Āboltiņa said that another step towards closer parliamentary relations would be a visit to Latvia by the Speaker of the Indian Parliament.
When discussing economic cooperation, Āboltiņa remarked that in recent years there has been a positive trend in the economic relations between Latvia and India; that indicates a growing interest among entrepreneurs.
When describing the economic situation in Latvia, Āboltiņa emphasised: “Latvia is one of the countries that was seriously affected by the global financial and economic crisis. We have undergone difficult years of austerity and financial constraints, but at the moment Latvia is a leader in the European Union in terms of the economic growth rate.” The Speaker of the Saeima also noted that last year, Latvia’s rate of economic growth was higher than expected and reached 5.5%.
The Speaker of the Indian Parliament was impressed by Latvia’s success in overcoming the financial and economic crisis and emphasised India’s interest in developing closer economic cooperation.
During the meeting, the Speaker of the Saeima stressed the potential for mutual cooperation in the area of education. “The opportunity to study at universities in our country is attractive for Indian students. Some study programmes, such as medicine, are very popular among Indian students. This year the number of Indian students studying in Latvia has increased,” Āboltiņa said.
“Latvia is proud of its cultural heritage. We are proud of our dynamic cultural life, and our inhabitants actively study other cultures. Furthermore, in 2014 Riga will become the European Capital of Culture,” the Speaker of the Saeima emphasised.
At the end of the discussion, Āboltiņa presented the Speaker of the Indian Parliament a symbolic gift – a Lielvārde belt – and explained that “the Lielvārde belt is an important part of the culture and national identity of Latvia. There is a belief that the fate of the Latvian nation has been woven into the belt. However, in the patterns of this belt you will also find symbols familiar to the Indian culture; therefore, I present you this gift as a symbol of the strengthening of relations between our countries”.
On 3 and 4 October Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, is participating in the annual Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliaments. This year the Meeting, which is taking place in New Delhi, the capital of India, is focusing on increasing the role of women in the work of parliaments. The Meeting is hosted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union together with the Indian Parliament. Founded in 1889 and uniting the parliaments of 155 countries, the Inter-Parliamentary Union is the largest and oldest interparliamentary organisation.
Photos from the meeting are available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saeima/sets/72157631681437211/
When using the material, please give credit to the Saeima Chancellery.