American Latvian Association and Joint Baltic American National Committee Representatives Meet with New U.S. Ambassador to Latvia
At the end of September, the United States Senate confirmed career foreign service officer John Carwile as Ambassador to Latvia. Carwile had previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Nepal and in Brunei. He also had served as an Economics officer in the American embassies in Italy, Canada, and Iraq.
Prior to departing for Riga this Fall, Carwile met with representatives of the Latvian-American and Baltic-American communities for a briefing. In a meeting at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on October 15, 2019, the President of the American Latvian Association, Peteris Blumbergs, described the priorities of American Latvians with respect to America’s role in Latvia. Blumbergs stressed that the military and security relationship is of paramount importance, and he urged continued NATO support at the Adazi military base, American troop presence at the Lielvarde air base, and continuing evolution of the Michigan National Guard relationship with the Latvian Ministry of Defense. Also within the security realm, ALA highlighted the importance of fighting Russian disinformation and propaganda and urged support for the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga.
ALA’s Executive Director Marisa Gudra briefed the ambassador designate on Latvian-American cultural and educational accomplishments and the good relationship ALA has with the Latvian Cultural and Education ministries. Gudra also pointed out that the visa process is often cumbersome and requested American embassy assistance. Carwile was particularly impressed with ALA’s Sveika, Latvija tour and Pavadi Vasaru Latvija internship programs.
The Baltic-American community was represented by Karl Altau, the Executive Director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) and Eduards Ozolins, who is interning at JBANC for the year on a scholarship provided by the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF). Altau described some of JBANC’s legislative priorities including funding requests for defense projects.
Since Carwile is an economics expert the conversation also addressed business development issues. The ALA representatives described ALA’s Spotlight Latvia business forums and PBLA’s Pasaules latviesu Ekonomikas un Invocaijas Forum. Carwile was also urged to continue to support the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia (Am-Cham), a leading business group in Latvia.
The meeting concluded with a wish that Carwile continue the progress created by previous Ambassador Nancy Pettit who was a prominent figure in Riga and who expressed and showcased American values well in order to help Latvia.