The Nature Protection Board issued a record number of permits for transporting wild animals, wildlife souvenirs and other products in 2005. Statistics show that a total of 104 permits were issued for importing, exporting and re-exporting live animals and wildlife products. Kaspars Abersons, a representative for the Nature Protection Board, told the Baltic News Service that since joining the EU, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora requires that Latvia apply for not only export, but also import, permits. In 2005, permits were issued for 137 products made from American alligator skin, 18 accessories made of crocodile skin, two zebra skins, a leopard's skin and head, and a pair of python-skin shoes.
While in Turin, Olympic Committee President Aldons Vrublevskis will present Riga as a potential host of the 13th Olympic Congress and the 121st session of the International Olympic Committee in 2009. In the 1930s, the IOC chose Latvia to host the congress in 1942, but World War II destroyed these plans. Vrublevskis will stress this point while defending Latvia's claim to the 2009 congress.
Considering the recent violence over the controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad published in the Western press, Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks warned the population to "think well" when choosing countries to visit. Pabriks said that, in view of unrest in Syria and other Muslim countries, people should think twice before planning a trip there. "Extra caution would not hurt," said the foreign minister. He pointed out that Latvia had no embassies in Muslim countries, only an office in Turkey, but it was not under threat. The scandal arose after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 allegedly defamatory cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet. A diplomatic crisis ensued, threatening Danish relations, including trade, with the Muslim world.