A Belgian King in Riga
Belgium's King Albert II arrived in Riga Monday and will stay for three days in Latvia's capital. This will be the first time that a Belgian monarch has visited Latvia, making it a historic event for the country's citizens. Along with the King will be Queen Paola, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht and a delegation of 20 academics and businessmen, all arriving to work towards the goal of strengthening relations between Belgium and Latvia.
The Belgian King will meet with Latvia's Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis and speaker of the Latvian parliament, Indulis Emsis. In addition, he will take part in several academic and economic forums, including one at the University of Latvia, and will visit several important sites in Riga, including the Freedom Monument and the Museum of Occupations.
Both Latvia and Belgium, as members of the EU, have much to gain from good relations; historically, Belgium has been a supporter of the Baltic state, having diplomatic relations since 1921, though severed by Latvia's incorporation into the Soviet Union, which Belgium did not recognize. In 1991, when Latvia regained its independence, diplomatic relations between the two countries were renewed.