President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and Dr Pentti Arajärvi made a state visit to Latvia on 7-8 June 2010. At the beginning of the visit President Halonen held bilateral talks with Latvian President Valdis Zatlers. Among other things they discussed bilateral relations, the current economic situation and global challenges.
"Relations between Finland and Latvia are excellent. Besides the fact that our presidents and political leaders meet frequently, contacts among businesses and citizens have grown closer. We have become part of the Baltic Sea family," President Halonen said at a press conference that was held after the talks.
The Presidents noted that there is already a lot of cooperation between Finnish and Latvian companies, but it could still be expanded. Owing to the economic situation trade has declined lately, but expectations concerning the future are cautiously positive.
"Latvia is an interesting cooperation partner for Finland because of its geographical proximity and skilled labour. Our membership of the EU ties us to common goals, helps us network effectively and increases the resources available for different projects," President Halonen said at the Finnish-Latvian Business Seminar that was arranged in the afternoon.
The programme on the first day of the visit also included the laying of flowers at the Freedom Monument, a working lunch hosted by the Speaker of the Latvian Parliament and a banquet at the Presidential Palace.
On Tuesday, 8 June, President Halonen met with Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis. President Halonen and Dr Arajärvi then had lunch at the Latvian President's residence in Jurmala and learned more about rural development. The programme included stops in Tervete and Dobele, where the Presidents visited a horse farm and an orchard.
The President of the Republic was accompanied by Minister of Housing Jan Vapaavuori. He met with Latvian Minister for Economics Artis Kampars and Deputy Mayor of Riga Ainars Slesers and took a closer look at Riga's architecture.
President Halonen made a state visit to Latvia in 2001 at the invitation of President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who in turn made a state visit to Finland in 2006. Both countries' heads of state have also made several working visits. Most recently President Valdis Zatlers visited Finland in February to attend the Baltic Sea Action Summit.