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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Latvia
Political relations between Switzerland and Latvia have traditionally been good. Various congresses which led up to Latvia's first independence were held in Switzerland. In the first years following independence, Latvia received Swiss support within the framework of cooperation with Eastern Europe. Latvia is a recipient country of the Swiss enlargement contribution.
Switzerland and Latvia maintain good diplomatic relations. Bilateral contacts have intensified in recent years: In February 2013, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs visited Switzerland; in July that year Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter visited Riga. In September 2014 he visited Riga again in his capacity as President of the Swiss Confederation, meeting with Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and President Andris Bērziņš.
Since Latvia joined the EU in 2004, bilateral trade has been based on the free trade agreement between Switzerland and the EU. The volume of trade amounted to approximately CHF 180 million in 2013.
As an EU member state, Latvia is one of the beneficiary countries of the Swiss contribution to reducing the economic and social disparities in an enlarged EU. Between 2012 and 2017, 12 projects worth a total of CHF 60 million will be implemented in order to reduce economic and social disparities.
Scholars and artists from Latvia can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
At the end of 2012 there were 30 Swiss nationals living in Latvia.
Various congresses which led up to Latvia's first independence in 1918 were held in Switzerland. Switzerland re-established its diplomatic relations with Latvia in 1991. Switzerland never recognised the annexing of the country by the Soviet Union. During the transitional phase in the 1990s, Latvia was a priority country for Swiss cooperation with Eastern Europe. In total, some CHF 26 million was provided in the form of technical and financial aid (health, the environment, and the banking sector). Switzerland opened its consulate in Riga in 1868, and it remained in place until the country was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. In June 1992 Switzerland opened an embassy in Riga, also covering Swiss interests in Lithuania and (since 2011) Estonia.
Latvia has had a consular representation in Switzerland since 1919. The head of mission for the Baltic states in Berlin was responsible for diplomatic relations. Today the Latvian embassy in Vienna is responsible for relations with Switzerland.