In 2019, we mark one hundred years since the establishment of the Latvian Foreign Service and the work and efforts of Latvia’s diplomats have always been closely connected with the country’s destiny. Already on 19 November 1918, the day after Latvia declared its independence, the Latvian People’s Council had approved a provisional government, and Zigfrīds Meierovics was entrusted with the post of Latvian Foreign Minister.
Though independence had been declared and Latvia was established, the war for independence continued on Latvian territory into the first half of 1919. In these circumstances, work on Latvia’s foreign relations took place mainly outside of Latvia and this included the sending of a delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, in order to present and defend Latvia’s independence, with the aim of attaining international recognition, and establishing the first diplomatic missions abroad.
On 29 July 1919, Foreign Minister Zigfrīds Meierovics signed the order to appoint four diplomats to the highest positions of the nascent foreign diplomatic service thereby, in effect, creating the Latvian Foreign Ministry as an institution. And from that date, the structure of the Ministry took shape and developed, gradually adding departaments and divisions.
Despite the challenges of implementing a foreign policy in a fluid and volatile security environment, Latvian diplomats were able to achieve their most important task on 26 January 1921, the de iure recognition of Latvia by the great powers of the time. And the fully-fledged Latvian foreign service, with diplomats including consular officers, operated freely and effectively till the onset of occupation in June of 1940.
But even under occupation, the Latvian diplomatic and consular services persisted, harbored in western countries, reminding the world for half a century that Latvia had never lost its de iure statehood. The Latvian Foreign Service is in fact the only institution of the Republic of Latvia that has continued to work and operate unceasingly and without interruption since the founding of the country of Latvia.
It should be underlined that Latvia’s diplomats always endeavour to serve for the benefit of the country and to promote its best interests and priorities.
The Latvian Foreign Service ensures Latvia’s independence and the development of its democracy and national security. Latvian diplomats must be capable of working in various circumstances and have the ability to find solutions when faced with difficult situations. Latvia’s consular officials, day in, day out, are available to offer support and advice to all Latvian citizens and permanent residents. Latvia’s diplomats highlight Latvia’s achievements and accomplishments as well as facilitating contacts and cooperation.
To celebrate the past century of Latvia’s foreign service, various events and information campaigns have been organized. On 9 September, an exhibition “100 years of Latvian diplomacy and the Latvian Foreign Service” will open in Tukums where Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics went to school, and the exhibition will also travel to Latvia’s regions and the cities of Jelgava, Ventspils, and Bauska. In addition, guest lectures by diplomats are planned in Latvia’s universities, and there will be radio broadcasts and other events featuring Latvia’s foreign relations.
Latvia currently has 47 diplomatic and consular missions with 37 embassies, 6 diplomatic missions, one general consulate, two consulates and one consular chancellery.