The Business Year

HE Andris Bērziņš

AZERBAIJAN - Diplomacy

Secure in the Knowledge

President, Latvia


Andris Bērziņš was born in 1944 and attended the Faculty of Mechanics at the RÄ«ga Polytechnic Institute before, between 1963 and 1966, serving in the Soviet military. He then returned to the Riga Polytechnic Institute, this time to the Faculty of Radio Engineering, before attending the University of Latvia’s Faculty of Economics in Industrial Planning. Before becoming President of Latvia in 2011, he was a Member of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia, and Chairman of the Economic, Agricultural, Environmental, and Regional Policy Committee. Between 2006 and 2010, he was President of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and has also served in a number of other significant public and private roles.

You are coming up on 20 years of cordial diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan. What are your priorities for bilateral cooperation? In my opinion, we enjoy perfect relations, and are looking […]

You are coming up on 20 years of cordial diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan. What are your priorities for bilateral cooperation?

In my opinion, we enjoy perfect relations, and are looking forward to further discussions on the practical development of our partnership. We have started large projects together that are still at the initial stages, but I expect positive contracts to be signed based on long-term cooperation. This is also valid for countries like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. We need to boost transit connections between all of these countries, across rail, sea, and air, which requires practical links. Our meetings, as ever, are cordial, but ultimately produce clear and thoroughly thought-out arguments that form the practical basis for the future.

What is the importance of Azerbaijan for Latvia and Europe as a large energy producer in terms of energy security?

This is one area in which much discussion has taken place, especially regarding Azerbaijan, but also concerning other countries in the region. We’re analyzing the situation and trying to better understand the course of shale gas development. Such developments could create a completely new energy picture for the entire Eurasia region. There are, of course, prospects, but they may be highly expensive. From the outside, it appears that at the Baltic level it will not be so easy to reach a consensus. These are complicated questions and should be analyzed. Expanding energy projects with Azerbaijan is certainly a possibility.

Do you see gas from Azerbaijan or the Caspian Sea reaching Latvia?

We will see, as this is an early consideration. For the Baltic countries, any misjudgments could have serious consequences for the future. Finland and Poland must also be considered when making such decisions. It is much easier to coordinate these development projects by utilizing the strengths of each country. As I said, we have perfect political and human relations and a good basis for future activities, not only on a political and social, but especially at the commercial level. There are many practical contacts for Latvian companies in Azerbaijan. Again, visits to the country have provided us with solid opportunities for Latvian businesses to expand. We are leveraging our past Soviet links to boost relations in NATO, as other EU countries have done via their historical relations with other parts of the world. We do this not only to promote our own interests, but those of the world.



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