Latvian foreign policy after enlargement: Continuity and change

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Latvia’s transition from Soviet republic to restored nation-state has been most clearly seen in the transition to democracy and the market economy. Externally, however, the Baltic State has had to negotiate complex challenges in both the local and wider security complex. In this essay I argue that the development and evolution of Latvian foreign policy illustrates a transition to post-existential politics and illuminates the nature of geo-politics in the Baltic subregion in general. Initially, Latvia had to create a foreign policy agenda with limited resources such as knowledge and capacity. The 1995 Latvian foreign policy guidelines formally established the move to the ‘West’ generally as well as membership of the EU and NATO specifically. The guidelines show that the nature of insecurity in the region was by and large dictated by Russian dominance and political transition. With the accession into the EU and NATO, we can see that Latvia’s foreign policy objectives have shifted away from balancing in the subregion to integration in the larger security architecture. This includes fulfilling the niche capabilities in the North Atlantic infrastructure as well as engaging with other post-Soviet States as they move towards the ‘West’. Furthermore, Latvia’s objectives have moved beyond the subregion to include military missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. Overall, I argue that a review of Latvia’s foreign policy development illustrates the evolving nature of cooperation and conflict on the threshold between East and West.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-462
Number of pages20
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


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