May 27 - 28, 2005, Riga
The first session of the conference was dedicated to an analysis of the 15 years of democratic transformation in Latvia and Russia, as well as the relations between the two countries in that period in the context of the democratic reforms. Juris Rozenvalds, professor of political science at the University of Latvia, announced the conclusions of a study on democracy in Latvia. This study sought to evaluate the democratic credentials of the country's institutions; identify what must be done to improve the quality of democracy in different aspects of public life; and inform policy proposals aimed at improving Latvia's democratic institutions. The study highlighted positive and negative aspects of democracy in Latvia.
On April 28, 2005 the Baltic Forum and the Representation of the European Commission in Latvia, with the support of the Ebert Foundation in Latvia organized the seminar "The Lisbon Strategy in Latvia: Between Investment in Human Capital and Economic Growth". The seminar contributed to the public debate on the issue in two ways: first, it increased the awareness in Latvia of the pan-European debate and visions on Europe's future. Second, the seminar gave a chance to discuss the Latvian way towards implementing the European visions and the Lisbon strategy.
In the recent years, the development of the EU has been marked by two concurrent trends. On the one hand, the European cooperation has been enlarged to include several post-Communist states which have adopted rather liberal monetarist strategies to pursue economic growth. On the other hand, the EU increasingly stresses the interdependence of economic, social and environmental progress as the only way towards a dynamic and sustainable economy, a Europe of excellence. This presents a dilemma for the new member countries. The priorities of the EU, most clearly expressed in the Lisbon agenda, demand from each country to ensure a certain level of investment in human and social capital. With the limited resources available to the new EU states, the choice seems to be between supporting short-term economic growth and investing in long-term economic and social sustainability. This challenge is every bit as acute for Latvia as for any other state.
To address this challenge, the international think tank the Baltic Forum and the Representation of the European Commission in Latvia, with the support of the Ebert Foundation in Latvia were organizing the seminar "The Lisbon Strategy in Latvia: Between Investment in Human Capital and Economic Growth".
Several questions were in the focus:
The target audience of the seminar was Latvian decision makers at different levels as well as the representatives of civil society and media interested in the issue.