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Back | Programme Area: Governance (2000 - 2009) | Event: International Conference on Ethnic Inequality and Public Sector Governance

International Conference on Ethnic Inequality and Public Sector Governance

Speech by the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Excellencies, distinguished participants, Dr. Mkandawire, Minister Muiznieks, Ms Koehler,

It is my privilege to send warm words of welcome and acknowledgement to this international conference on Ethnic Inequality and Public Sector Governance.

The declaration of Latvia’s new Government emphasises sustainable development and the eradication of poverty among its main policy goals. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I would like to add to these domestic policy goals the continued commitment of the Government of Latvia to the agenda of the United Nations. We are proud to be engaged proactively in many of the UN agencies and to contribute to the reform of the UN system. We are also committed to the Millennium Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2000, which clearly places human rights and good governance at the core of the development agenda.

In this connection, my Ministry has led the Millennium Development Goals process in Latvia, which, as you know, is a two-fold process.

Firstly, the Millennium Development Goals pinpoint issues of human development – poverty, environmental development, gender equality, education and health. In the Latvian context, we are committed to formulate specific, locally meaningful development goals. We are actively consulting on these with academics, civil society and with the UN system in Latvia and internationally.

Secondly, there is the overarching Millennium Development Goal of development cooperation. Latvia, joining the European Union in just four weeks, is rapidly and in great strides becoming a development cooperation partner – an emerging donor. Initially, this will be in the form of sharing our rich nation-building experience with other countries, in the Eastern European region and farther a field in developing countries.

One of the main accomplishments of Latvia in the past decade since regaining independence has been what we call the integration of society. This encompasses policies that ensure the equal social and economic rights of all residents of the country, and promotes the integration of different subcultures and ethnic groups. And these are areas of competence and expertise, which we are confident about using in our cooperation and partnership with neighbouring countries, developing countries and countries emerging from crises and distress.

It is from both these perspectives – the Latvian nation-building and integration experience and Latvia’s position as an emerging donor – that I am pleased to see Latvia as the venue for this conference on ethnic issues and good governance.

I greatly look forward to the outcome of your discussions and wish you a very fruitful and stimulating three days in Riga.