Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Luxembourg!
Excellencies, ministers, distinguished business representatives!
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to Riga today and open this business forum dedicated to strengthening economic cooperation between Latvia and Luxembourg.
We have been living in turbulent geopolitical times for some time now. We had not yet fully recovered from the economic fallout of the pandemic when we woke up on the morning of February 24th to the news of Russia's aggressive military incursion into Ukraine.
This has been causing untold suffering to the people of Ukraine for a year and, at the same time, is affecting the world economy both through the energy crisis and through rapid inflation. Latvia and Luxembourg are united in their support for Ukraine. We are confident that we will soon celebrate the victory of Ukraine.
In this era of economic uncertainty, we need to be particularly bold and innovative. I believe that research and development, as well as technological innovation, can play a crucial role in economic growth and sustainable national development.
Economic relations between Latvia and Luxembourg are characterised by positive trade and investment dynamics. I am pleased to note that Latvian companies have significantly increased their exports to Luxembourg and that Luxembourg companies are very interested in investing in Latvia. I am convinced that the cooperation to date is a good basis for its further development and expansion.
Latvia has set the transformation of the economy as an objective within the framework of the European Green Deal, in particular by supporting knowledge-intensive and high value-added sectors. The main topics of today's business forum - digitalisation and sustainability - are in line with our common goals and the initiatives that our two countries are developing and promoting in the European Union. The themes also reflect our countries' individual priorities and set a clear direction for our bilateral cooperation.
Latvia's scientific capacity and support to business is currently being strengthened in areas such as information and communication technologies, smart energy and smart materials science, as well as biomedicine and the knowledge-intensive bioeconomy. In each of these areas, Latvia and Luxembourg have their own scientific expertise and competitive companies. We can complement each other very well.
We also share common goals in achieving climate neutrality. Latvia's wealth is its forests, which cover more than half of our territory. Luxembourg is also rich in forests. Some of the most innovative companies in our country operate in forestry, so I am delighted that one of the panels at today's business forum will be dedicated to this sector.
Today, forest management is unthinkable without the latest technologies. In Latvia, for example, we have developed a solution for forest management based on satellite data technology. This helps to assess tree species, their height and density, which in turn allows accurate identification of forest stocks and the corresponding areas that can be harvested.
In 2021, Latvia became an associate member of the European Space Agency. Latvia also has innovative companies in the field of space technology. Given Luxembourg's strong potential in space technology and space law, which is also an area of interest for me, we see closer cooperation both within the framework of the already mentioned European Space Agency and Horizon Europe projects.
Your Royal Highness!
I am delighted that today we will visit together some of the most successful Latvian technology companies. You will have the opportunity to meet and get acquainted with representatives of the Latvian telecommunications company LMT, as well as high-tech equipment manufacturers MikroTik and Lightspace Technologies.
I wish you all a successful day and fruitful discussions!
Your Royal Highness, I thank you again for your participation in this forum and for your visit to Latvia!