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Yearbook 2005

Latvia. Latvia's relationship with Russia was further complicated during the year, while ties with the United States were strengthened.

2005 Latvia

According to countryaah, Latvia President Vaira Vīke-Freiberga accepted his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin's invitation to attend Moscow in May at the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The decision was applauded by the Kremlin, until it became clear that Vīke-Freiberga intended to use the invitation to carry out L's vision of history: the defeat of Nazi Germany was followed in the Baltic by new terror during the Soviet occupation. Vīke-Freiberga sent a declaration of this to heads of state and government, and she demanded Russia's recognition that the Baltics were illegally occupied by the Soviet Union. Latvia received support from the EU, but the Kremlin reacted angrily and reiterated its previous position that the Baltic countries joined the Soviet Union by mutual agreement.

Moscow was also annoyed that US President George W. Bush, on his way to the 60th anniversary celebration in Moscow, chose to visit Latvia, explaining that the Soviet occupation of the Baltics was "one of history's worst crimes." Bush met in the Riga Presidents of the three Baltic NATO countries, all of whom supported the US invasion of Iraq and who have their own troops there. The fact that the summit was held in Riga was seen as a political success for Latvia's president.

Russia promised at the 60th anniversary in Moscow to sign the border agreement that Latvia has been waiting for for years. But the Kremlin backed down since the Latvian government added a political declaration that Moscow perceived as territorial claims on Russia. President Vīke-Freiberga considered the declaration unnecessary and criticized his own government for having destroyed the signing of the border agreement.

During the year, the Latvia and Swedish governments ended up on a collision course on how to interpret the EU's free movement of labor and services. The Swedish government supported the trade union Byggnads, which had put a Latvian construction company in the block because it refused to sign a Swedish collective agreement. The blockade led to the company giving up and its workers returning to Latvia, where the government saw Sweden's actions as a violation of EU rules on free movement across borders. The Labor Court in Sweden granted Byggnads the right, but the case was taken to the EU court, where the treatment can take several years.

Figures during the year showed that Latvia in 2004 had the highest economic growth in the EU, when GDP grew by 8.5%. At the same time, Latvia was the poorest country in the EU with the lowest per capita GDP, 42% of the average.

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