The Canadian government apparently is considering closing its embassy in Latvia as a cost-cutting measure, according to an April 15 report by The Canadian Press citing unnamed sources. The embassy would be one of 19 embassies and consulates that could be shuttered as the Canadian foreign affairs department faces a shrinking budget.
The Latvian National Federation in Canada, which just held its annual meeting over the weekend, will send a letter of protest to the Canadian government, said Mārtiņš Sausiņš, president of the federation’s executive board. The federation also will urge the Baltic Federation in Canada—an umbrella group representing Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians in Canada—to send a letter of protest, Sausiņš said in an e-mail.
The embassy opened in 1993 and also serves as Canada’s presence in Estonia and Lithuania. Canada recognized the renewed independence of Latvia on Aug. 26, 1991, and was the first of the G7 nations to do so. The embassy’s closure would come with a certain irony, because Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who spent much of her life in Canada before being elected to her post, is serving out the last months of her second term.
According to The Canadian Press, the foreign affairs department faces a CAD 142.8 million cut in its budget this year. Other missions under consideration for closure are in Cambodia, the Balkan states and in some African countries. Late last year the Canadian government eliminated four consulates, including the one in St. Petersburg, Russia, which officially closed its doors on March 31.
Reaction from Canadian Ambassador Claire A. Poulin was not immediately available. However, on the embassy’s Web site, she writes, “Since the three states regained their independence in 1991, Canada has been maintaining and deepening strong bilateral relations, which unite us through the Baltic communities in Canada.”
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