Latvia became the 18thmember of the euro area when it introduced the euro in cash form on 1 January 2014. This was both a historic step forward for our Baltic partner and an event of major symbolic significance for the entire euro area. The goal of introducing the euro motivated Latvia to adopt courageous policies that helped it to overcome the most severe economic crisis it had ever faced. Furthermore, Latvia’s accession to the euro area provided a clear demonstration of trust in the strength and stability of both the common currency and the currency union – despite the crisis, and precisely in times of crisis. Latvia is pursuing the path of European integration steadily and consistently.
To pay tribute to Latvia for its achievements, the Federal Ministry of Finance invited Latvia to be the guest country at its event series “The Sound of Europe” on 15 December 2013. On this evening, we celebrated both the expansion of the euro family as well as our shared European unity in diversity. The euro is more than just a means of payment, and the European idea embraces so much more than just financial issues.
Europe represents friendship and solidarity, as well as sustainability and the future. Europe is not something to be equated only with crises – Europe is our home, a home that is one of the most culturally diverse regions in the world, and one of the most desirable places to live worldwide.
By combining political and cultural dialogue with musical virtuosity, the “Sound of Europe” event series affirms these positive traits and allows us to celebrate them again and again with our various guest countries. The event showcased our newest euro partner and its international stars Gidon Kremer, his chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica, and Pēteris Vasks. Contemporary Latvian culture was represented by the cello trio Melo-M; the up-and-coming young Latvian culture was represented by the songwriter Elizabete Balčus; and the Balta women’s choir and the kokle virtuoso Laima Jansone represented traditional Latvian culture.