Next US ambassador to Latvia: It is important to resist Russia's influence in the media environment

The next US ambassador to Latvia, John Leslie Carwile, plans to address “difficult and complicated issues” such as corruption, money laundering, and the restitution of Jewish communal property. During a hearing at the US Senate, he prioritized security cooperation, mentioning in particular the security of the information space, reported Rus.LSM.lv.

“I intend to strengthen the U.S.-Latvian relationship while advocating for and advancing U.S. interests in Latvia and throughout Europe. I will strengthen our robust security cooperation. I will work to increase our bilateral trade and investment. I will expand upon our already strong cooperation in advancing democracy, rule of law, and development in Eastern Partnership states and across Central Asia.

"Strengthening our relationship also means addressing difficult and complicated issues with Latvia.If confirmed, I will press the Latvian government to develop, enact, and implement reforms addressing critical corruption and money laundering threats that persist in the country. And I will support efforts to address Holocaust-era legacies, such as Jewish communal property restitution,” said Carwile in his official testimony.

The future ambassador also remarked that Latvia has shown itself to be an important ally of the United States, playing a part in various international security operations and being “amongst our most knowledgeable and active partners in combating Russian malign influence not just in Europe, but across the world.”

In the course of the hearing (a video of which is available on the Senate's website), when describing how he, as ambassador, plans to help Latvia deal with Russian threats, Carwile spoke about the media environment, stating that “one of the most important things is to increase media literacy in the country.” He also remarked that there are certain US programs “whose aim is to bring truth to the areas, mostly in the east, that are largely ethnic Russian, to counter that malign [Russian] influence”.

Asked about the support that the US could provide in the military field to ensure Latvia's security, Carwail said that the current presence of the US and NATO in the Baltic States already constitutes sufficient means of defence.

Head of the Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee Rihards Kols (National Alliance) said that the intention to “press the Latvian government” for action was merely an awkward expression, adding that it was unlikely that it meant any kind of interference in Latvia's internal affairs. It is clear, however, that whatever concerns the financial sector is not solely a national problem, but also a regional and global one.

The appointment of a US Ambassador begins with the president nominating a candidate. The nominee has then to be accepted by the US Senate before the president can finally appoint him or her to the post.

The White House announced plans to appoint Carwile as ambassador to Latvia in May. Carwile, a career diplomat, currently serves as the deputy director of the Office of Career Development and Assignments in the State Department. He has previously served at the US embassies in Brunei, Nepal, Italy, Iraq, and Canada. 

The previous US ambassador to Latvia was Nancy Bikoff Pettit, who has retired.

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