France and Latvia

Political relations

A political declaration on the Franco-Latvian Strategic Partnership, setting out the focuses for the development of our relations, was signed in Riga in May 2008. This partnership was supplemented with an open-ended action plan, approved in 2012. A new Strategic Partnership action plan was signed in Paris by the French Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, and the Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, on 9 April 2018. In February 2017, the French and Latvian defence ministers signed a bilateral intergovernmental 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 Latvia twice, on an official visit in 2001 and during the NATO Riga Summit in 2006. President François Hollande made a visit to Riga in May 2015 during the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Latvian 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. On 9 April 2018, President Emmanuel Macron received his Latvian counterpart, Raimonds Vējonis, for the celebration of Latvia’s centenary and the inauguration of the Symbolism in the Baltic States exhibition organized by the Musée d’Orsay.

Economic relations

France is also the 18th-largest investor in Latvia (€64.2 million) with some 60 companies employing around 2,900 people there. Two major investments stand out: Axon Cable in Daugavpils, in the production and installation of high-technology cables (430 employees), and Schneider Electric in Riga in the connected homes/home automation sector (230 employees). The Rail Baltica interconnection project has aroused the interest of French companies.

In 2017, France was Latvia’s 13th-largest trading partner. Trade volumes stood at €498 million in 2017, giving a French trade surplus of €128 million.

A France-Latvia economic forum was held in Latvia in May 2014, and a France-Latvia business forum was organized in Paris by MEDEF International in May 2018.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Latvia has been an observer member of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) since 2008. An agreement was signed in 2015, allowing partial funding by the OIF of French teaching for senior civil servants and diplomats provided by the Riga Institut Français. In 2018, French was the fourth-most-taught foreign language taught in Latvia, and the number of students learning French has fallen slightly.

The Hubert Curien Partnership (PHC) “Osmose” Programme promotes research between young French and Latvian scientists.

In 2018, Latvia’s centenary was celebrated jointly with events in Latvia and France. A Symbolism in the Baltic States exhibition was held at the Musée d’Orsay from 10 April to 15 July 2018.

Decentralized cooperation

Six French regions are twinned with Latvian ones and there are 12 twinned French and Latvian towns. Riga, the capital, has signed partnership agreements with Bordeaux, Marseille and Calais.

The first Franco-Latvian decentralized cooperation agreement was signed in 2005 between the Lower Rhine Department and the Vidzeme region, as was the twinning agreement between Riga and Bordeaux. The Burgundy Regional Council and the Jelgava region, the Moselle Department and the Latgale region, and the cities of Nantes and Liepāja, maintain cooperation.

  • Ambassador of France in Riga: Ms Odile Soupison (October 2016)
  • Latvian Ambassador in Paris: Mr Imants Lieģis (March 2016)
  • Chair of the France-Latvia Friendship Group at the French National Assembly: Mr Philippe Chassaing
  • President of the France-Baltic States Friendship Group in the Senate: Mr Olivier Henno

Updated: 24 January 2019