RIGA, Latvia, Jan. 19, 2018 /CNW/ - President Vējonis - what a pleasure to be here and thank you for welcoming me to your capital, Riga.
It is the first visit to your magnificent country by a governor general of Canada and a special honour for me to be here on the 100th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Latvia. On behalf of all Canadians, let me extend our sincere and warm congratulations to the people of Latvia on this happy occasion! You have much to be proud of, and to celebrate.
Canada is proud to be a diverse society, and the presence of 28,000 people in the Latvian-Canadian community strengthens our country immeasurably. It is one of the largest and most active Latvian populations outside of your borders. We share a love of winter sports and in particular, of hockey.
The depth and quality of our relationship goes beyond our people-to-people ties. Trade and commercial ties are also vibrant and will certainly expand in the years to come. Latvia was the first European Union member state to ratify the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement. Canada deeply appreciates Latvia's strong support for this agreement, which is expected to increase commercial exchanges between our two countries.
As we just discussed during our meeting, Canada and Latvia enjoy an excellent relationship. We share common interests in a rules-based international order, common values of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We also have a desire to increase prosperity for all.
These shared interests and common values are reflected through Canada's long record of support for Latvia's sovereignty. In fact, Canada was the first G7 nation to recognize Latvia's restored independence in 1991, after initially recognizing it in 1921. And our country was among the very first to ratify Latvia's accession to NATO in 2004.
Mr. President, let me take this opportunity to reaffirm Canada's strong commitment to peace and security in this region. This is why we have significantly expanded our defence cooperation in recent years with a renewed Canadian military presence in Latvia through NATO. We now have more than 450 troops deployed in this country, and later today I will go to Camp Ādaži and witness the work done by our Canadian Armed Forces through Operation REASSURANCE.
Canada is very proud of playing the lead role in a multinational NATO battlegroup, with Poland, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia and Albania joining us in our efforts. And I want to thank you, Mr. President, for your incredible work in building necessary infrastructure and capacity to host us. Our presence and training function would not be possible without this crucial collaboration between all involved.
Canada and Latvia are allies, friends and partners in many ways, and I am honoured to be here today, Mr. President, to further strengthen our relations. I very much look forward to continued friendship and collaboration. And thank you again for the warm welcome.
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SOURCE Governor General of Canada
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