Latvia. Latvia's relationship with Russia was further
complicated during the year, while ties with the United
States were strengthened.
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
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
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.
The new era - a new center-right party led by Einars
Repše - became the big winner of the parliamentary elections
in October 2002, when it gained 23.9% of the vote. It
immediately began negotiations with other right-wing parties
to form a coalition government. Repše is distinguished by
becoming Governor of the National Bank of Latvia at the age
of just 30 years. He stated that he would fight corruption
at the government level, considered by the anti-corruption
organization Transparency International to be the worst in
In August 2003, the United States discontinued its
military assistance to Latvia as a result of the
government's refusal to sign an agreement to grant U.S.
citizens immunity from being brought before the
International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes
against humanity and war crimes.
On 20 September 2003, a referendum was held on Latvia's
accession to the EU. 67% voted in favor, while 32.3% voted
against. In particular, the arguments for inclusion were
that the country was unable to cope alone and that accession
to the EU would become a definitive manifestation in favor
of democracy and rupture with the past as part of the Soviet
Union. The campaign against admission, in particular, struck
at nationalist, autonomous and that admission would transfer
supremacy to Brussels, only 13 years after it was abandoned
in Moscow. With the massive backing, Latvia and 9 other
Eastern European countries joined the EU on 1 May 2004.
Prime Minister Einars Repše was forced to resign in
February 2004 after the government coalition disbanded in
September 2003. Immediately following the implementation of
the EU referendum, 3 of the 4 parties in the Repše coalition
accused of ruling on the basis of «threats and lies ».
President Vaira Vīke-Freiberga appointed Indulis Emsis of
the Bond Alliance as new Prime Minister.