Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised Latvia’s multilateral efforts as he started a three-country tour of the Baltic States ahead of his participation in the high-level session of a United Nations conference on climate change being held in Poland.
Speaking in Riga at the Latvia 95 Conference, commemorating the 95th anniversary of the Latvia’s establishment as a republic, Mr. Ban praised its involvement to help secure peace and human rights worldwide and said that the international community looks ahead to a future of even greater engagement.
“Latvia is a small State – but it is making a global impact through its important multilateral efforts,” Mr. Ban said.
The country joined the UN 22 years ago but has already served on key UN bodies, including the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and UN Women, and sent personnel to the European Union Training Mission in Mali and soldiers to serve with the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
“I applaud these contributions,” said Mr. Ban, noting also that Latvia will hold the presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2015.
The top UN official also lauded Latvia for “its courage, unity and solidarity” in recovering from the economic crisis, as well as the quality of its elections, independent media, and “its healthy and vibrant civil society.”
Yesterday, Mr. Ban met with President Andris Berzinš who he called a “trailblazer” for helping to transition Latvia “a vibrant, prosperous and democratic society in a few short decades.”
He lauded Latvia’s valuable contributions towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and formulating a vision for development beyond that year, and urged a further deepening of Latvia’s engagement with the UN.
He is also meeting with Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and Solvita Aboltina, Speaker of Parliament.
During his visit, the UN chief also planted an apple tree, a symbol of the mythical Golden Apple Tree that is the national symbol of luck in Latvia.
He next heads to Estonia where he will visit the Robotex 2013 Technology Exhibition and Robotics Competition and give a public lecture at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The last stop on his visit will be Lithuania, where he will visit a sustainable energy project. Mr. Ban will also receive an Honorary Doctorate at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.