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.
Latvia’s likely success in joining the eurozone flies in the face of almost every possible indicator — and it again comes back to Berlin, who wants a symbol of austerity’s success to use against Southern Europe.
Not everyone is certain that this is a wise decision. Nevertheless, Latvia has followed policies which make its economic success likely irrespective of the fate of the Euro.
With Europe in recession, the East will face continued tough times. However, even today some countries and some companies are doing well. With the right policies, the region can prosper in spite of the West’s difficulties.
In the first half of 2012, private equity firms raised more money in Central and Eastern Europe than they did all last year, the greatest increase since 2008. Investors obviously expect future growth in the region.
The Eurozone continues to go from bad to worse. Greece may be on its way out. Spain wants a bank bail-out. Buried amongst this depressing cascade of impending catastrophe is some good news. The Baltic States have demonstrated the art of economic reform.