Opening an embassy in Australia, which has a sizable Latvian diaspora of post-WWII refugees and their relatives, is among the named budget priorities for 2020. Together with Brazil, Australia is the second country that the Foreign Ministry named as an important location for opening an embassy.
Currently, Latvia’s Ambassador to Australia is based in Tokyo while the Australian ambassador resides in Stockholm.
There’s an Estonian embassy in Australia, open for several years now. But hitherto, lack of funding has prohibited the Foreign Ministry from opening an embassy in the capital Canberra.
This September the government decided that an additional €3m would be funneled to Foreign Ministry initiatives. “There’s never enough money for all the priorities, and you always have to make a choice,” said Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs (New Unity), commenting as to why an embassy in Brazil won’t be opened at this time.
“We chose Australia for three reasons. The first is that it has an active diaspora, [which we should] support on a consular and political level,” he said. “Australia is not just a country but also a continent. It’s huge, and currently the Latvian embassy in Tokyo also serves our compatriots in Australia and New Zealand.”
“But the flight from Tokyo to Sydney or Melbourne or Canberra takes about eight to nine hours, which is a lot. Things such as consular help and passports should be solved by an embassy in Australia instead of our colleagues in Japan,” he said.