RIGA, Latvia, Jan. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An AJC leadership delegation just concluded a two-day visit to Latvia, where they had an hour-long meeting with President Raimonds Vējonis.
The seven-member group also met with Parliamentary Secretary of Foreign Affairs Zanda Kalninja-Lukasevica; State Secretary of Defense Jānis Garisons; U.S. Ambassador Nancy Bikoff Pettit; Israeli Ambassador Lironne Bar-Sadeh; and the Mayor of Riga, Nils Ušakovs, who was one of the first European mayors to join AJC's Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism campaign.
Moreover, the visit included a tour of the Jewish Museum and dinner with the leaders of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia, with which AJC has maintained a longstanding association agreement and which is led by Arkady Sukharenko.
Among the principal topics discussed in the meetings were: the multi-faceted regional security situation facing Latvia; the 25th anniversary of Western recognition of Latvia's restored independence; Latvian-U.S. and Latvian-Israeli bilateral relations; and current pressing issues in the European Union, including migration and resettlement.
"AJC attaches great importance to our relationship with Latvia, whose democratic independence, NATO membership, and accession to the EU we've enthusiastically supported," said AJC Chief Executive Officer David Harris. He has visited Latvia several times and was decorated with one of the country's highest honors by then-President Vaira Vike-Freiberga in 2007.
During the visit, Harris was invited to give a keynote speech on U.S. presidential elections and American foreign policy at a standing-room-only event, hosted by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. Former President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers, who served from 2007 to 2011, warmly and very personally introduced Harris. The audience included a number of ambassadors; members of the Latvian Parliament; government officials; foreign policy specialists; and university students.
AJC engages with Latvian diplomats across the U.S. and Europe, and the global Jewish advocacy organization meets with senior Latvian officials each year on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
In August 1991, AJC was the first major Jewish organization in the world to call for American recognition of the reestablishment of independence for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Moreover, AJC later helped lead the effort to support the expansion of NATO membership to the three Baltic nations, and welcomed the full integration of the three countries into the EU in 2004.
In addition to Harris, the AJC delegation included Executive Council Members Ned Dubilo and Henry Dubinsky; National Leadership Council Member Michael Sachs; AJC Europe Director Simone Rodan-Benzaquen; Director of Eurasian Jewish Affairs Sam Kliger; and Chief of Staff to the CEO Joey Resnick.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee