President accredits three new ambassadors

New Latvian ambassadors to China, Slovenia and Turkey have received letters of accreditation from President Valdis Zatlers, his press office announced Nov. 21.

The new ambassador to China is Ingrīda Levrence, who has been serving as an assistant state secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rīga. She replaces Jānis Lovniks, who served as Latvia’s ambassador in Beijing from 2004.

In a meeting with the president, the two discussed the future of Chinese-Latvian relations following this summer’s visits to Beijing by Zatlers and Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis.

“China is one of Latvia’s strategic economic partners,” Zatlers said, according to a press release. “Although at present direct trade between Latvia and China is not great, the potential for growth is real.”

The new ambassodor to Slovenia is Juris Poikāns, who has been serving as the interim chargé d’affaires in Latvia’s embassy in Ljubljana. He replaces Aivars Groza, who has been the nonresident ambassador to Slovenia as well as serving as Latvia’s envoy to Austria.

Aivars Vovers takes over as ambassador to Turkey. Vovers has previously been ambassador to Armenia and Poland, Latvia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Vienna, and an ambassador-at-large. In Ankara, Vovers will replace Ambassador Ivars Pundurs.

Also on Nov. 21, Ambassador Imants Lieģis presented his letter of accreditation to King Juan Carlos of Spain, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release. The king, according to the press release, wanted to know about Latvia’s relations with Russia. Lieģis told him it is important for Latvia to maintain a dialogue with Russia, but noted that after Russia’s conflict with Georgia those relations cannot be characterized as “business as usual.”

Lieģis was born in the United Kingdom to parents who had fled Latvia during World War II. He moved to Latvia in 1992 and began to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has been ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, to the NATO defense alliance, and to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union. The previous Latvian ambassador in Madrid was Mārtiņš Perts, who now is the ambassador to Israel.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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