Latvian Chargé d’Affaires a.i. begins work in Australia

On 12 April 2021, the Latvian Chargé d’Affaires ad interim to the Commonwealth of Australia, Ieva Apine, begins her work in Canberra.  She will be making arrangements for the opening of the new Embassy of Latvia. Building close contacts with the Latvian diaspora organisations represented in Australia is of special importance. 

Opening of the new embassy shall ensure that Latvia’s interests are more effectively supported in this strategic Indo-Pacific region. The mission will in fact be regional in its reach, with initial accreditation covering Australia and New Zealand. The Embassy will offer assistance of various kinds to the diaspora, facilitate a more active development of bilateral relations, including through fostering economic cooperation, as well as opening new opportunities for contacts with countries in Oceania in the context of Latvia’s candidacy for the UN Security Council.

The Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., will also be involved in providing consular assistance to Latvian nationals who have travelled to Australia on short visits and find themselves in situations where they require urgent assistance, for example, when their passport has been lost, they have been detained, or have fallen victim to a crime. Such consular assistance will be provided in close cooperation with the Consular Department of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Latvia’s honorary consuls, and missions of other European Union Member States in Australia.

The provision of consular services (passports, eIDs, certifications, etc.) at the embassy will begin as soon as technical arrangements are in place. Until further notification, consular services can be received as before, with the help of Latvian honorary consuls in Australia, at any Latvian embassy across the globe, or remotely, as an e-service. 

A resident Ambassador of Latvia to Australia is to be accredited in the second half of 2021.

Australia became home for a considerable number of Latvians in the wake of World War II, which today is reflected in a large and dynamic diaspora, over 20,000 strong. The main diaspora organisation is the Latvian Federation in Australia and New Zealand, which brings together more than 40 Latvian organisations, communities, congregations and centres and their active social life that contributes so much to fostering and preserving Latvian identity and connectedness with Latvian roots and culture.

Five Honorary Consuls currently represent Latvia in Australia – in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.

The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs still advises against travelling abroad unless absolutely necessary. See the link to current travel advice concerning the Commonwealth of Australia.

In order to contact the Embassy of Latvia in Australia, write an e-mail to

Photo: the Chief of Protocol for the Australian Government, Ian McConville, presents a document confirming the establishment of the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in the Commonwealth of Australia and on the Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Republic of Latvia, Ieva Apine, taking up her duties

Untapped potential for Latvia’s institutions of higher education

A meeting of the working group for diaspora policy issues took place in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 10 May. There, representatives of the diaspora, institutions and various organisations of Latvia discussed the question of attracting students from the diaspora to studies in the higher education institutions of Latvia, as well as the participation of the diaspora in the exchange programmes for elementary and secondary school students.

During the meeting, Pēteris Kārlis Elferts, Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasised  “the large and yet untapped potential for attracting youth of the diaspora as students to study in the universities and technical schools of Latvia. This is an area of activity, he said, which needs more attention and where I would like to urge the educational institutions of Latvia to direct even more effort.” The Ambassador noted that such directions of work should be included in the remigration policy to strengthen the Latvian identity of the diaspora, its link to Latvia and to promote the return of young people to Latvia.

There are several institutions of higher education institutions working in this direction already. Representatives from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga introduced the participants of the meeting to the Heritage Programme which offers studies in English, for a fee, in Latvia for either a semester or an entire academic year, thus enabling an increase in language fluency through performing research and getting on-the-job experience in Latvian companies parallel to regular studies.

Last year, during the West Coast Latvian Song Festival in San Jose, California, the University of Latvia had a stand with information on the study programmes at the university and significant interest was shown. Associate Professor Arvils Šalme, a representative of the University of Latvia Foundation (LU fonds), confirmed at the meeting that the University of Latvia is indeed increasingly trying to expand the possibilities for the diaspora. He noted that one should think about attracting young people from the diaspora not only to academic education, but also to extracurricular activities and studies as well as distance learning.

Ambassador Pēteris Kārlis Elferts reminded participants that young people with Latvian origins, when studying in Latvia, have the opportunity to use the advantages of their dual citizenship by studying here as a citizen of Latvia. In comparison to the costs of studies in America for example, they would be considerably lower in Latvia. Moreover, the study by the researcher Dr. Ieva Birka about Latvians from America and Canada confirms that the majority considering the possibility of moving to Latvia are in fact young people aged 18 to 25.

On the subject of involving students from elementary and secondary schools in the exchange programmes in Latvia, Kristaps Grasis, Chairman of the Executive Board of the European Latvian Association noted that diaspora families are demonstrating an interest in such opportunities and he emphasised that young people of the diaspora are an important target group. The possibilities of studying in a Latvian school would provide the opportunity to be in a Latvian environment, strengthening Latvian fluency and ties with Latvia, thus fostering the possibility for studying or working in Latvia in the future.

The international non-governmental organisation AFS Latvija informed participants about the inter-cultural student exchange programme for teenagers from 15 to 18, which offers, for a membership fee, the possibility for Latvian children to study at a school and live in a host family in another country, and for children from the diaspora to do the same in Latvia. The organisation demonstrated an interest in attracting children from the diaspora to this programme.

The working group meeting also discussed the proposal that such school exchange programmes could be oriented toward children from the diaspora and adjusted to their particular needs, and that such programmes could receive state support. In the meantime, organisations can be encouraged to address members of the diaspora as well as the residents of Latvia in the course of implementing the existing programmes.

The diaspora working group meeting was also attended by representatives from the World Union of Free Latvians, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of economics, Ministry of Education and Science, the Society Integration Foundation, the Latvian National Cultural Centre, Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, the National Centre for Education, and the international youth organisation – AIESEC.

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Konferencē Rīgā starptautiskie eksperti izvirza politikas rekomendācijas Eiropas institūcijām mobilitātes un diasporas jomā

1. un 12. maijā Latvijas prezidentūras laikā Rīgā notiekošajā konferencē par diasporas un migrācijas jautājumiem Eiropas Savienībā starptautiska ekspertu grupa izvirzīja politikas rekomendācijas Eiropas institūcijām mobilitātes un diasporas jomā.

Ņemot vērā migrācijas jautājuma aktualitāti, Ārlietu ministrijas speciālo uzdevumu vēstnieks diasporas jautājumos Pēteris Kārlis Elferts un Eiropas Latviešu apvienības priekšsēdētājs Aldis Austers iepazīstināja ar priekšlikumiem, kā izveidot labāk integrētu un funkcionējošu ES iekšējo darba tirgu, un veicināt risinājumus nozīmīgiem jautājumiem ES pilsoņu mobilitātes jomā.

Rekomendācijās rosināts nākamajā Eiropas pilsonības ziņojumā (European Citizenship Report 2016) iekļaut Eiropas pilsoņu mobilitātes tēmu un kādu no nākamajiem gadiem veltīt Eiropas pilsoņu mobilitātes tematikai.

Nosakot kādu no nākamajiem gadiem par Eiropas pilsoņu mobilitātes gadu, tā mērķis būs aktualizēt jautājumu par ES pilsoņu un viņu ģimeņu locekļu tiesībām brīvi pārvietoties, novērst juridiskos, sociālos un kultūras šķēršļus, kā arī stiprināt ES diasporas lomu ekonomiskajā izaugsmē.

Ņemot vērā, ka daudzās valstīs tiek pārspīlētas ES iekšējās mobilitātes negatīvās sekas, priekšlikumos rosināts mazināt negatīvos priekšstatus par ES pilsoņu brīvo pārvietošanos, uzsverot pozitīvos ieguvumus.

Rekomendāciju projektā ieteikts uzlabot ES migrācijas plūsmas statistikas datu kvalitāti un lietot vienotus standartus datu salīdzināšanai Eiropas valstīs. Tāpat būtu jāveicina statistikas pētījumu izstrāde tieši vietējā, pašvaldību līmenī.

Priekšlikumos arī norādīts, ka īpaši jāpievēršas arī migrantu un viņu ģimenes locekļu valodas prasmēm mītnes zemē un dzimtās valodas prasmēm atgriežoties dzimtenē. Īpaši būtiski tas ir bērnu veiksmīgai integrācijai gan mītnes zemes skolu sistēmā, gan savas izcelsmes valsts izglītības sistēmā atgriežoties. Eiropas skolu tīkla paplašināšana tiek piedāvāta kā viens no risinājumiem.

Eksperti rekomendē paātrināt jautājumu virzību saistībā ar prasmju un kvalifikācijas atzīšanu, padarot to arī saprotamāku ES pilsoņiem. Atzinīgi tika vērtēts EK nodoms līdz šī gada beigām izstrādāt konkrētus priekšlikumus mobilitātes uzlabošanā ES iekšienē (tā dēvētā Mobilitātes pakete).

Konferencē piedalījās valdības amatpersonas no ES dalībvalstīm un eksperti no starptautiskām institūcijām, tajā skaitā Eiropas Padomes cilvēktiesību komisārs Nils Muižnieks, ES Tiesas tiesnesis Egils Levits, Eurostat ģenerāldirektors Valters Radermahers (Walter Radermacher), Eiropas Migrācijas politikas institūta direktore Elizabete Koleta (Elizabeth Collett) un citi eksperti, kā arī ES nevalstisko organizāciju un diasporas pārstāvji.

Konferenci organizēja Ārlietu ministrija sadarbībā ar asociāciju „Eiropieši pasaulē”(Europeans Throughout the World) un Eiropas Latviešu apvienību. Pasākuma norisi atbalstīja Latvijas Ārpolitikas institūts, Eiropas Komisija, Frīdriha Eberta fonds (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung) un Ziemeļu Ministru padomes birojs Latvijā.