According to a recent study by a Latvian university and a research centre, Estonia is the friendliest nation from the Latvian perspective.
The Rīga Stradiņš University, in cooperation with the Center for Geopolitical Studies Riga, explored the views of Latvian society on the countries who are friendly or unfriendly towards Latvia with a nationally representative poll conducted in July 2022 by the SKDS research centre. The survey reached 1,020 respondents in face-to-face interviews throughout the country.
The respondents were asked to name the five friendliest countries and the same number of least friendly countries from a predefined list, including Belarus, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, China, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Given available space, the questionnaire included Latvia’s geographically closest neighbors and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Germany was added as one of the power centers of the European Union, along with Canada, the lead nation of the multinational NATO battlegroup in Latvia. Ukraine and Georgia were added as both have been victims of Russia’s military aggression, and both have been strongly supported by Latvia,” the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a Philadelphia, PA-based think tank, reported.
The friendliest countries, according to the responses, are Estonia (69.2%) and Lithuania (65.3%). Both Baltic neighbours are far ahead compared to other countries. Among the rest, Poland is in the next place and third overall (30.2%), followed by the United States (27.3%), Ukraine (26.2%), the United Kingdom (24.1%) and Sweden (20.9%). Other countries were mentioned by less than 20% of respondents.
The percentages designate the share of respondents naming the respective country in the top five list of either friendliest or least friendly countries, according to the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
Latvia’s Russians find Russia the unfriendliest, too
“On the other end of the spectrum, the list of least friendly countries is more imbalanced, with a clear top three far ahead of others. The three least friendly countries according to respondent perceptions are Russia (70.5%), Belarus (53.7%), and China (29%). Other countries in the list lagged significantly behind; indeed, none reached 20%.”
Among both Latvian and Russian speakers, the top three least friendly countries were identical – Russia, Belarus and China.
“However, the emphasis differed. Latvian speakers called these countries unfriendly more often than Russian speakers did: Russia was listed by 85.5% of Latvian speakers, and 46.5% of Russian speakers; Belarus by 67% of Latvian speakers, and 32.3% of Russian speakers; and China by 33.1% of Latvian speakers, and 22.5% of Russian speakers,” according to the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
“In the list of friends, Estonia and Lithuania came first among both Latvian and Russian speakers: among Latvian speakers, Estonia was named by 75.8% of respondents and Lithuania by 70.7%, while among Russian speakers – 58.7% and 56.7%, respectively.
“The United States received one of the most divisive assessments. It was ranked as the third friendliest among Latvian speakers with 33%, but only seventh among Russian speakers with 18.1%. Among Russian speakers, Poland came third with 27.1%.”