News archive - Cooperation with the Western Balkan Countries from Latvian Perspective

The family of European countries is becoming richer in terms of the number of its members, but most importantly in terms of experience, knowledge, diversity and ideas.

Research and education programmes offered by the European Union to the post-communist countries in the beginning of 1990 were targeted at countries, which had to transform the entire education and science system. Today, EU members and their partners are facing a new turn – it is a creation of networks of partnerships that should enrich all involved parties. Latvia’s involvement in the Communities’ programmes is linked to the country’s foreign policy priorities. For Latvia, for obvious reasons, the most important partners are post-soviet countries,  namely, Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. But it does not mean that other regions are neglected. The WBC area becomes more and more important for Latvia what can be exemplified by some cases.
In education Latvia has several priorities, but among the most important areas are life-long learning programmes. For small countries with limited human resources and rapid economic growth the ability to establish an  educational system, which is flexible, inclusive, open and creative, is a matter of the survival of the nation. The experience, which Latvia has accumulated over the past decade in life-long learning, has become attractive to the FYR of Macedonia and Croatia. These countries expressed their willingness to participate in collaborative projects. Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro are involved in TEMPUS projects. In the area of research relations between the WBCs and Latvia started under the EC’s 6th Framework Programme.
The leading country was Croatia (participating in 53 projects with Latvia), followed by Bosnia Herzegovina (5), Serbia (5), and Albania (3). There are more joint projects on the way under the 7th Framework Programme.
How can Latvia contribute to the WBCs’ research policies? First of all, it is the knowledge about regional co-operations in the research area. It is almost an axiomatic statement that regional co-operation has only positive outcomes.
Unfortunately, there are some problems and possible contradictions that should be considered. Secondly, it is the specifics of co-operation among different regions. Inter-regional co-operation quickens its pace and in the
future it will have more potential than narrow regional interaction. It means that co-operation and competition will go hand in hand. Thirdly, the expansion of the European Research Area will need participation and contribution from the EU member states and from partner countries as well. Collaboration between the WBCs and Latvia regarding the ERA will increase the possibility of the representation of regional interests in the project. Fourthly, the experience of EU integration and its impact on the research policy that Latvia gained over almost 20 years. Latvia has gone through this complicated process of learning what kind of opportunities and shortcomings there are.

Latvia is ready to share its knowledge with the region of the WBCs.

Article published in the e-journal autumn 2008.

Source: Zaneta Ozolina

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Entry created by Elke Dall on November 5, 2008
Modified on November 11, 2008