President sets visit to three Central Asia nations

Just days after returning from a weeklong trip to the United States, Latvian President Valdis Zatlers is heading abroad again. This time it is for a state visit to the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Joining the president on the Oct. 2-9 trip will be his spouse, Lilita Zatlers, and a delegation of Latvian officials and business representatives. The group is expected to meet with government leaders in each of the three nations, a spokesperson for the president said in a press release.

Zatlers also is scheduled to speak at universities in all three countries. His presentation will focus on the European Union’s cooperation with the region as well as the region’s role in the world.

During the past year, according to the press release, relations between Latvia and the Central Asian countries have improved, but are from optimal.

“Our—the European—collective responsibility is to consider the further political and economic dialogue in Central Asia, which must become an important partner as we search for alternative sources and providers of energy,” Zatlers said in advance of the trip.

The president also is expected to visit sites memorializing victims of Soviet repression, according to the press release.

Latvia has embassies in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Latvian ambassador to Uzbekistan, Igors Apokins, also is the nonresident ambassador to Turkmenistan.

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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