EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘Eastern Europe gripped by political instability‘:

I think that it is not very precise to describe my country as a part of Eastern Europe. Latvia, like Finland and Sweden, is part of Northern Europe. Besides, she is a member of the EU and NATO.

There is a fundamental difference between my country on the one hand and Ukraine/Georgia on the other. To disregard these fundamental differences is simply an illustration of old, Cold War-style thinking.

If we are speaking about ‘East’, then we should speak about Cyprus and Greece, but certainly not about Baltic countries.

Regards,

Andris Razans

Ambassador of Latvia to Denmark

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Comments

  1. Helas my eastern friend, East still has the air of “backwardness”. It is sad that this is reiterated by Euractiv and also by you.

    You were right for noting that Latvia cannot be put in the same basket as Georgia.

    At the same time, your very argument only underlines that East means backwardeness.

    Untill we get rid of East meaning “second class”, “Eastern Europe” will ceize to exist all-together.

  2. Latvia is in the far far west of Western Europe. When ships in the Baltic Sea want to know how to orient themselves, they see Latvia and they know they’re in the right direction towards the shores of America.

  3. Back in the 90’s when Richard Holbrook worked in Bill Clinton’s State Department, he banished the term Eastern Europe from the State Department lexicon, claiming it was pejorative. Latvia and its Baltic neighbors of Estonia and Lithuania were grouped together with the Nordics. Ambassador Razans makes a valid point.

  4. Andris Razans is right.
    Latvia is part of Nordic-Baltic Europe, by history and geopolitics.
    Please have a look to the book-atlas “Latvija Eiropa” ((Zvaigzne, Riga and La Lettonie en Europe, Belin, Paris, 2004).
    Eastern Europe should refer to the space between the EU and Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

  5. WE SHOULD BE PROUD ON OUR MEMBERSHIP STATUS OF BOTH MAJOR DEMOCRATIC ORGANISATIONS – EU AND NATO. WE ARE PART OF THE NEW EUROPE WITHOUT BORDERS AND WITHOUT ANY DISCRIMINATION DUE TO OUR GEOGRAPHICAL POSITIONING ON THE MAP, LANGUAGE, COLOUR OF OUR HAIR OR OF OUR EYES. PLEASE REMEMBER: FEW YEARS AGO OUR COUNTRIES WAS EXACTLY IN THE SAME SITUATION LIKE GEORGIA AND UKRAINE TODAY. IT IS OUR DUTY AND OUR COMMON INTEREST TO SUPPORT THEM TO BECOME FULL MEMBERS TOO OF OUR ELITE CLUBS.
    COMING BACK TO THE GEOGRAPHY AND LOOKING TO THE MAP, MY OPINION IS THAT: SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES (ONLY) ARE LOCATED IN THE NORTHERN EUROPE; THE BALTIC COUNTRIES & POLAND – NORTHERN CENTRAL EUROPE; ROMANIA, BULGARIA, UKRAINE, MOLDAVIA – EASTERN CENTRAL EUROPE; GREECE AND CYPRUS – SOUTHERN CENTRAL EUROPE (EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN AREA). OF COURSE, THIS PRIVATE OPINION IS OPEN TO FREE DEBATE AND CAN BE IMPROVED WITH YOUR SUPPORT. ANY SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME!
    Dr. MARIUS – EUGEN OPRAN, MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BUREAU
    EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE / GROUP I – RO

  6. Really not East? Yet, forget about North.

    The issue, I am sorry, can’t boil down to mere geographical terms (in this case North-East would probably be the most appropriate definition).

    However:

    1) Latvia entered the EU in 2004 with almost all the Eastern European countries.
    2) Latvia is not part of the EMU like most of the Eastern European countries .
    3) Lativa is a country transitioning from a socialist-regime like all the Eastern European countries.

    There are far more similarities bewteen Latvia and Eastern Europe, than between Latvia and Scandinavia.

  7. If Latvia is North, but not East, then Greece and Cyprus are certainly South and not East….Let’s have more options please: northeast, northwest, eastwest….:)

  8. To the jovial dutchman:

    You are a clever one, Maarten. That’s why Brussels put Russia to the (Central) Europe now, not to look backwardish…while russian labour camps firmly sit in backwardy alias second class Eastern Europe…

    Latvian ambassador is flatly right. Maarten must be probably fluent in russian by now…

    Maarten, do you remember how it was before WWII???

  9. Who did you say you are? The ambassador of Li… Lo… Latvia!

    Do you have your own embassies? I thought you’re still a Soviet Republic… (-:

    Besides poking fun, you have to clearly state if to you, “Eastern” is (1) a merely geographical term, or (2) a broader one (political, cultural, etc).

    If Nr 1 is the case, of course, your countru is MORE EASTERN than mine (politically, culturally, economically, regarding food and beverages, etc.).

    From a purely geographical point of view (Nr 2), of course Greece is an eastern Mediterranean country and Latvia a Baltic one. In any case, you do not belong to what everybody calls “Nordic Countries”.

  10. Ha! what a heap o’ junk! Of course you are part of Eastern Europe. You are a part of the “backwardness” as described in an earlier post. You are even wedged in between two Russia’s! Does that then mean that Russia is West European?
    Your country was part of the hated enemy Warsaw pact. You were and still are an Eastern European country, way behind in development!
    Yes, you will eventually become “European”. We all will. But your country is not anywhere near that level yet.

  11. That’s very correct Mr. Ambassador… only that it is not so simply to change the way of thinking of the world after half a century. BTW did you know that there is a geographical study that says that the geographical center it’s a dot in Lithuania?
    For those spanish-speakers there is a lot of information, news and analysis in Observanto, like in these link: http://www.observanto.net/artcontenido.php?id=109
    Otherwise, you can surf the site at http://www.observanto.com

    Greetings,

    Juan B.

  12. The latvian ambassador is right. Latvia is a baltic country,and advanced people, even if poor, as nordic as Finland, Sweden, Norway or Danmark, and certainly vey far from the educational point of view of the european shame of what is today’s Greece. Stereotypes are bad, could you believe that the Greeks or Italians of 21st cntury have something to do with th ancients grrek or roman civilizations??

  13. my dear ambassador! You have never heard that everything is relative? For Finland and Sweden Latvia is the southern country for instance and for Russia a western…Why are you so offended to be put in the same basket as Ukraine and Georgia? Latvia for sure is far away to be like any west European country not to compare to real Nordic countries such as Finland or Sweden or Norway. It is laughable to put yourself next to them…most what could be said is that yes, Latvia do belong to Baltic States..and that’s it! I had a long tour this summer going down from Finland all the way via Baltic States and Poland and so on until Georgia itself! We have been stopped only twice by traffic inspector once in Latvia and second time in Poland. Need not to say that we were released after contributing couple of euros to their family needs! On our way we were laughing and making jokes to what it would be in such “backwarded” countries like Ukraine and Georgia. And my German colleagues wanted to invest there…what an absurd idea! To our great surprise it turned out a great surprise itself! According to regulations of “corrupted” government not that there was any traffic police in the streets hunting for some lost imbeciles (like us) with foreign car plates to cash some money( instead cameras everywhere!) but the country looked better then some of EU members such as ( I beg you pardon) Bulgaria and definitely Latvia. If this is backward economics than it must be good in caucasus because what we saw there was a total building! Everywhere all the way from the boarder though the capital and in capital itself building roads and buildings and so on…and this was just after the destructive Russian invasion and fall of economics ..And people really did not care for so called opposition (we talked to lot of them) and called them fighters for a chair (presidential) and to our surprise this “backward” countries citizens looked better dressed and happier then any we saw in well..some countries we had to cross during the trip…And establishing the new company and starting business for my friends turned out to be less corrupt and less bureaucratic then lets say in ..Germany
    My best wishes to your countries
    Sanna

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