RIGA - Latvia has been selected to host the NATO summit next year in November, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga announced on Dec.7, adding that it was "a sign of great recognition."
The choice to use Riga as the venue for NATO's debate on meaning and future prospects, the president said, showed that Latvia was able to meet Alliance requirements. It is "proof of Latvia's full maturity and political weight," she added.
Vike-Freiberga emphasized that the summit would be a priceless promotion for Latvia, and that investments would most definitely yield return. "It will also be an investment in infrastructure," she said.
Estonian President Arnold Ruutel, currently on official visit to Riga, congratulated Latvia on its honorable selection.
Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks' spokeswoman, Inga Saleniece, told the Baltic News Service that "signals" suggesting Riga as the summit venue were received. NATO foreign ministers, she said, would make a formal decision on the matter this Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Latvian foreign minister discussed the issue with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The two also spoke about organizing the Riga-scheduled NATO summit.
The conference could cost Latvia 15 million lats (21.3 mln euros), of which the government has already allocated 10 million under this year's budget. Five million lats have been earmarked under next year's budget.
Part of the money will go toward the renovation of buildings reserved for the NATO summit. Afterwards, the public would also benefit from these upgraded facilities.