When Europe and Asia collide | Aivars Lipenitis

When Europe and Asia collide

By lipenitis 0 Comment 16/04/2020

Originally published on Medium on October 29, 2019.

What do we want from another country?

Have been thinking of this often when traveling to close deals or negotiate partnerships. Seeing what happens in global politics (or economics), one does not have to guess if there is love between DIFFERENT people. So is that just money, and

isn’t there enough money back home?

A while ago, I participated in Latvia — India business forum, with India VP and Latvia President taking part. A high level event with around 25 businesses from India and a bit more from Latvia side among participants… and what I saw were mostly Indians speaking to other Indians and, yes, you can guess, Latvians speaking to other Latvians. A great (inter)national networking event.

I spend much time in the UK, not only in London but also in regions, including those in which people often hate foreigners. I am a foreigner to them, of course. No matter how intelligent British gentleman is speaking to me, he will struggle with my name on the first meeting, will often compliment my English speaking skills taken I am an Eastern European, will be surprised when I say my motherland is in Northern Europe (OK so you are Nordic now), maybe will ask where I’m originally from cause, you know, people from my motherland usually look different.

If we go for some beer as a usual Briton does, and will stay for some more beers if the conversations are exciting, the gentleman will most likely get to asking how is Latvia’s relationship with Russia, and what do I think about too many fellow countrymen being in their land.

Actually, you don’t need to go to other country to feel as not fully belonging. With a mix of blood, my appearance is not really Nordic, which leads to people sometimes asking:

So tell me honestly, where are you originally from?!

Going to Kuwait, I feel they want something from me, and that is not a friendship. It not money either. Knowledge? Maybe. But still I have to remember, that people from that region are sure humanity started and developed there.

Going to Central Asia, I feel they want money. They want to know if I have it or someone I know has it. A lot. Also, they want to know if someone I know know someone who has money. Not all of them. Some of them are richer than anyone in my homeland. Also, they think, we are strange. We don’t honor guests, we don’t have housekeepers usually, we are not rich or poor, it is hard to understand who has money.

When going to China, I know they don’t need much of me. It’s not money, they have it. It’s not knowledge, they know already. It’s not friendship as it’s too many people around. Sometimes, they want something luxury, and luxury is something we have made. Sometimes, they want technology, sometimes they are interested if our women are so attractive as media state, or if living there is cheap. And sometimes they just want to sell.

So what does India want from Latvia? Or what Latvia sees in India?

I heard stories of Latvia willing to have more Indian students, or same as Indians having more Latvian investment, or importing Indian goods.

Latvia-India business forum.
Latvia — India business forum. Riga, Latvia

Of course, it is about international partnership and global economy, which I am actively on for, being an advocate of globalization and internationalization. But do people really want that?

Why did Russia or Turkey want to join EU? Why Costa Rica likes when companies from USA set up in San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital)? Why wouldn’t China just take back Hong-Kong in full by force? And why do France care about illegal immigrants (often refugees from Western Asia or Africa) in Italy? Is this because everyone is friends in global economy?

Me like