Latvija in brief - 2006-03-08

  • 2006-03-08
Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks urged cinematographers and historians to make feature films and documentaries that would show the nation's history in an objective manner. "We have to explain Latvia's history ourselves so that others won't in an unfavorable way. It is unacceptable that Latvia's history is interpreted in a partial, tendentious way in both the international and local media. State institutions, representatives of cinematography and historians should join to change the situation," Pabriks said, adding that the Foreign Ministry and the Latvian Institute would readily help make and distribute films. The minister said that good film projects might seek financing from the state budget. The minister came up with the proposal after the recent scandal over "The Baltic Nazism," a documentary made by a Russian firm. The film is a severe distortion of Latvia's history.

Sixteen out of 56 games at the 2006 World Ice Hockey Championship, scheduled to take place in Riga this May, have already sold out, with Russian and Belarusian hockey fans buying the most tickets. Organizing committee director general, Guntis Ulmanis, announced the news at a conference dedicated to the sponsorship agreement signed with Samsung Electronics. "Fans can still buy tickets with participation of less famous teams," said Ulmanis. Latvia expects the event to bring in a wave of tourism. The new Arena Riga, which will host most of the hockey-games, was just recently opened to the public.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga addressed the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia and urged NATO to remain open for new member countries and fresh forms of cooperation with partners and regional organizations. The president expressed her support for the EU and NATO's "open door" policy toward countries ready to carry out the necessary reforms for membership. She expressed her support for integrating Romania and Bulgaria into the EU and launching talks with Croatia and Turkey. "We also encourage Macedonia to continue with the reforms it has undertaken as an EU candidate country and potential NATO member. We are likely to support the extension of an invitation in 2008 for Croatia to join the NATO alliance and will support Albania's efforts to fight corruption and organized crime if that country follows reforms as a possible future NATO member," she said.

The National Border Guard signed an agreement on the development of technical designs for an 82,500-euro video surveillance system to be installed at border checkpoints. Once the system is put in place, there will be 24-hour video surveillance at 20 border checkpoints, said the National Border Guard. Existing video surveillance equipment is less than adequate. The border guard last May started implementing the Schengen Convention funding program, aimed at strengthening the EU's new external borders and improving border guard and border control efficiency.