On May 23-30, 2009 the Latvian Transatlantic organisation in cooperation with the Chernomorska Television Company and with the financial support of the Soros Foundation – Latvia organised a visit of the representatives of mass media and non-governmental sector from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine.
The goal of the visit to Latvia was to introduce the Crimean delegation with Latvia’s experience of Euro-Atlantic integration and the current situation in the country, being a new member state of the European Union (EU). Therefore during the week-long intensive programme guests from Ukraine learnt basic values/perceptions of Latvians (citizens of the EU and NATO), Latvia’s general and regional economic development, as well as were introduced with the development of Latvia’s business sector, tourism and farming, work of the local self-government, non-governmental organizations, universities, mass media and other institutions.
On May 25, Crimean delegation was introduced with the experience and work of the European Movement Latvia by its president Mr. Andris Gobiņš. Later a visit was paid to the Baltic Institute of Social Sciences, where one the leading sociologists in Latvia Dr. Brigita Zepa informed about the democratization aspects, development of the civic society, social and ethnical aspects of the societal integration in Latvia. In the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia the guests from Ukraine learnt about the development of the economy of Latvia, investment climate and the use of the EU structural funds for the development of the business sector. In its turn, representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Government informed about Latvia’s experience in completing administrative reform and the use of the EU Structural funds for the regional development. In the end of the day, Crimean delegation visited LATO office, where LATO Board member Mr. Dmitrijs Nikolajevs and Secretary General Mr. Sandis Šrāders introduced the guests with the work and experience of LATO in informing society about NATO.
On the second day of the visit, on May 26, the guests from Ukraine met with Ms. Aiga Grišāne, legal expert of the Tranparency International Latvia – DELNA, visited one of the leading goat milk producer biological farm “Līcīši” located in Jelgava region, where they learnt about the biological farming in Latvia before and after Latvia joined the EU. After that the delegation was introduced with the work of one of the biggest universities of Latvia – Latvia Agriculture University – and visited one of the famous Latvian bakeries “Lāči”, where they were able to taste traditional Latvian bread and learn about the development of the company as well as the use of the EU funds.
On May 27, a delegation from Ukraine met with the management of the Health Compulsory Insurance State Agency, learning not only about the work of the Agency, but also about the health care system in Latvia. In order to get an impression about Latvia’s ecological development, the delegation went to Stopini district, where Getlini EKO Ltd manages the ‘Getliņi’ refuse site, realizing one the biggest environmental projects in the Baltics. In the second half of the day, the guests from Ukraine learned about the work of the Riga City Council, the development of the capital, the involvement of society into the decision-making process as well as visited the Customers Service Centre of the Riga City Council.
On May 28, the Crimean delegation left the capital Riga for the port city of Liepaja in order to learn more about the development of this former military city. In the beginning of the day the delegation met with representatives of the Liepaja City Council, receiving information about the city in general and it development. The next stop was the Liepaja Tourism Information Centre, where its director Ms. Montta Krafte introduced the visitors with its work and services provided both for the tourists and local population. In the afternoon the guests from Ukraine visited the Liepaja Free port and learned about the work of the UPB Holding, located in the Liepaja Special Economic Zone. Later the visit was paid to the tourist attraction site Prison of Karosta. Afterwards the Crimean delegation had an informal meeting with representatives of the Ukrainian society in Liepaja “Svitanok”.
In the concluding day of the visit, May 29, the Ukrainian delegation met with the head of the Riga Energy Agency Mrs. Maija Rubūna, learning about the work of the Agency and ensurance of the energy efficiency in Riga. In the second half of the day the delegation was divided into three groups with individual programmes. The first group paid a visit to the editorial office of the local daily newspaper “Telegraf” and had a meeting with Mr. Dmitrijs Petrenko, Editor-in-Chief of public policy website politika.lv. The second group visited professional rural tourism association “Lauku ceļotājs” (in English – “Countryside Traveller”), tourism enterprise “Amber Way” and Farmers Parliament, which is the strongest non-governmental organization of commercial farmers in Latvia. The third group visited the headquarters of one of the most popular commercial TV Companies – LNT (Latvian Independent Television) and the enterprise Nordic Plast, which is operating in the field of used polythene recycling.
This visit is part of the project “A View of Europe”, jointly realisied by the partners from Ukraine (Crimea), Latvia and Poland. After the visit to Latvia, the delegation of experts and journalists from Crimea paid a visit to Poland, where they had a similar programme. The second phase of the project will be broadcasting of talk-shows by the TV Company “Chornomorska” on twelwe topics related to integration in the EU and experience of “new” member states, where experts from Ukraine, Latvia and Poland will take part. The broadcasting of talk-shows will start in August with six experts from Latvia taking part.