With Latvia’s economy outgrowing the rest of Europe’s, returning to its 2007 peak, the Baltic country is prepared to enjoy the benefits of the euro currently not really enjoyed by the European south.
Beneath the success of these individual stories is a somewhat odder truth: the Baltics only fit the European Union slightly better than they did the Soviet one.
Latvia did not rely on sainted austerity for its recovery. Its economy is still fragile. Its banking sector is a mess waiting to happen. It cannot cut off foreign investment, and yet it must.
A petition is making the rounds in Latvia to dismantle a World War II memorial that commemorates the Soviet “liberators” who brutally pushed out the Nazis after brutally occupying the state years before.
Presumably if the government gave out more free money, economically productive people would stick around?
Riga demonstrated that it was a credible and trustworthy economic partner with its tough austerity program in 2008 and 2009, which brought the country out of a serious economic crash.
It is ironic that another achievement in democracy for Latvia will be accomplished in the manner of European democracy — by the people’s elected representatives, and despite the people’s will.
The EU is not the Soviet Union; these fears are overblown. Latvia is nevertheless an example of how a state can democratically bind itself to an undemocratic result, and democratically place itself beyond any chance of escape.
Riga has garnered widespread support within Europe, which is desperate to shore up the besieged currency. However, Riga’s entry looks like rats running onto a sinking ship to many Latvians.
In Riga, former Waffen SS members drawn from Latvia — and, in a worrying development, younger generations — march in the streets in remembrance of the people who killed Jews and Slavs as equally bereft of humanity.