France and Latvia

Political relations

The development focuses of Franco-Latvian relations are determined by the political declaration regarding the strategic partnership between the two countries which was signed in Riga in May 2008. This partnership was completed by an open-ended action plan, approved in 2012. In February 2017, the French and Latvian defence ministers signed an intergovernmental bilateral defence agreement in Paris.

Visits

In May 1992, President François Mitterrand was the first Western leader to visit Latvia following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. President Jacques Chirac also visited the country twice, once during an official visit in 2001 and once for the NATO summit in 2006. President François Hollande visited Riga in May 2015 during the Latvian presidency of the EU. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga made an official visit to Paris in 2005.

On 16 November 2016, Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault welcomed his Latvian counterpart, Edgars Rinkēvičs, as part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of France’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the Baltic States organized at the Quai d’Orsay building.

Economic relations

France is the 19th biggest investor in Latvia (€64.2m) with some 60 companies based in the country, employing nearly 2,900 people. Two key investments stand out: Axon Cable in Daugavpils for the production and installation of cables, and Schneider Electric in the smart devices sector. The interconnecting Rail Baltica project has drawn the interest of French companies.

Trade reached €440m in 2016 with a trade surplus for France of €100m.

A Franco-Latvian economic forum was held in Riga in May 2014. A further forum will be held in Paris in autumn 2017.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Latvia has been an observer member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) since 2008. An agreement signed in 2015 allows the OIF to partially fund the teaching of French to high-level civil servants and diplomats by the Institut français in Riga. In 2013, French was the 3rd most taught foreign language and the number of students learning French is increasing slightly.

As part of the “Hubert Curien Partnership”, the “Osmose” programme is promoting research between young French and Latvian scientists.

From 2018, Latvia’s centenary joint celebrations will take place both in Latvia and France. An exhibition on Baltic Symbolism will be held at the Musée d’Orsay, from April to July 2018.

Visit the website of the Institut Français in Latvia: http://www.institut-francais.lv/

Decentralized cooperation

There are 6 twinning programmes between French and Latvian regions and 12 town and city twinnings. The capital, Riga, has signed partnership agreements with Bordeaux, Marseille and Calais.

The first decentralized cooperation agreement between France and Latvia was between the Bas-Rhin department and the Vidzeme region, as well as the twinning agreement between Riga and Bordeaux which were both signed in 2005. The Burgundy regional council and the Jelgava region, the Moselle department and the Latgale region, the cities of Nantes and Liepāja have cooperative relations.

  • Ambassador of France in Riga: Ms Odile Soupison (October 2016)
  • Latvian Ambassador in Paris: Mr Imants Lieģis (March 2016)
  • President of the France-Latvia friendship group in the National Assembly: Mr Edouard Courtial
  • President of the France-Baltic States friendship group in the Senate: Mr Jean-Marie Brockel

Updated: 19 May 2017

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