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In a special reception on April 30 marking ten years since Latvia joined the European Union, President Andris Berzins said that joining the European Union was a symbolic return to space where Latvia had been a part of for centuries, reports LETA.
In his address, Berzins said that ten years ago, the biggest enlargement of the EU's history took place. It was a bold enlargement, taking into account the different development and historical experience of the joining countries,'' the president said.
''At this festive moment I would like to thank all member states of the European Union, which then decided unanimously to open the doors to ten new member states,'' he added.
''I think that my colleagues from Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia would agree that it was a very important and even decisive step in the history of our countries and the region. This enlargement tore down the "Iron Curtain" for real,'' Berzins emphasized.
''Ten years ago the Latvian people made a free choice. I believe that it was the right choice for the existence of our country and securing its freedom. We highly appreciate the fundamental values of the European Union. We agree on the achievement of common objectives, by respecting and appreciating the unique identity of each European Union member state,'' the president said.
Berzins also recalled that since Jan. 1, Latvia is at the core of Europe after joining the eurozone. ''I would like to cite a few figures as well. Latvian gross domestic product has increased by 30 percent during last ten years, while real wages have increased by 45 percent. Owing to the European Union support, 870 km of our roads were built or reconstructed, almost 60,000 grants were allocated to students for professional education, 405 health care facilities were improved. Also agriculture is among the beneficiary branches. Its added-value doubled since 2004,'' he said.
''The European Union is our project! We often wish to consider the European Union as a distant entity, with which we could trade, at which we could be angry or that could be blamed for our misfortunes. But this is our responsibility for decisions we take, suggestions we make, and opportunities we seize. This is us, our attitude and accomplishments that embody the European Union,'' the president went on to say in his address.