Only one state language - Zatlers

  • 2007-08-08
  • From wire reports
RIGA - President Valdis Zatlers has denied any possibility of Russian 's or indeed any other language 's joining Latvian as an official state language.

In an interview to Russian radio station Eho Moskvi, Zatlers drew a clear distinction between the language of state and freedom of expression: "Two things should be distinguished  the state language and the right to use [any] language. There is only one state language 's Latvian - and it will never change," he said.

The president painted a picture of Riga as an international city, saying: "If you live at least a week in Riga, you will find that it is a very cosmopolitan city, as you can hear five or six different languages."

Unlike his predecessor, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President Zatlers is a fluent Russian speaker and caused a minor sensation when he responded to a Russian journalist's question in Russian at one of his first press conferences.

Later in the interview, Zatlers invited Russians to explore Latvian cultural heritage and in particular, Latvian song and choral traditions.

"For us it is what could be called a brand. We are the nation that sings. If you want to get acquainted with something really good, it is Latvian choral music, starting with chamber choirs and finishing with song festivals," Zatlers said.