RIGA- Latvian Defense Minister Vinets Veldre statedthat patriotism is a necessity and it should be strengthened.
"We already now owe to our future, therefore patriotism movementand people's sense of belonging to their country should be strengthened,"Veldre said in an interview with Latvian daily Latvijas Avize.
He believes that there are several ways to achieve it and one of them isawareness of legislation and political planning.
"We have several integration programs, ensuring inclusion ofminorities. There are education programs at schools in the competence of theEducation and Science Ministry, military patriotic program for the youth guardin the competence of the Defense Ministry," he said.
He said that at this stage there also might be a failure as people mightmisinterpret this as cultivation of nationalism and chauvinism.
"I am sure that any citizen could be a Latvian patriot, even if hedoes not speak Latvian at home," said the minister.
Veldre said that the youth guard movement is developing gradually.
"It is great that in our society there are still people whoremember the time of the Latvian state between the world wars, the relationsbetween a person and the country. But I am more interested in the feelings ofpeople at present, especially the young people. I have heard many interestingstatements and questions from the youth -- for example, for how long should Ibe a patriot? As if patriotism is a good in a store with its expiration date,"said Veldre.
He also said that he has noticed a "patriotism in need" --when it is convenient a person says that he is a huge patriot of Latvia, butthen he goes to a Maxima store and buys Lithuaniancheese and German beer.