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25.04.2005   'When did the war end?' - Latvian President's controversial comments

Brussels, 04 March 2005, EFA press release by Tatjana Zdanoka MEP

Latvian MEP Tatjana Zdanoka has expressed regret that Latvian President Vike-Freiberga chose to try to draw the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, into the President's attempts to re-write history.

Now in a written answer to a Parliamentary question by Ms Zdanoka, the European Commission has cast doubt on the Latvian President's claim that Sr Barroso supported her point of view.

Ms Zdanoka, whose party represents the substantial Russian speaking minority in Latvia, commented:

"The President of Latvia claimed that she had Mr Barroso's support for her controversial statement claiming that the Second World War only ended for Latvia after independence in 1990.

This kind of revisionism is unhelpful in building a peaceful and just society that recognises the rights of everyone who lives in Latvia.

It is unfortunate that Ms Vike-Freiberga should choose to claim the support of Mr Barroso in this way. The answer to my Parliamentary question clearly shows that Mr Barroso's comments were nowhere near as unequivocal as she earlier suggested. This is regrettable and unhelpful to Latvia's position in the European Union."

Tatjana Zdanoka will hold a press conference in Riga today (Friday) to highlight her concerns about the President's actions on such a sensitive topic.


The full question and answer is copied below:

for Question Time at the part-session in February 2005
pursuant to Rule 109 of the Rules of Procedure
by Tatjana Þdanoka to the Commission
Subject: Statements by the President of the Commission at the event to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp

A press release issued by the secretariat of the President of Latvia concerning the event to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp includes the following statement: 'The State President spoke to José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, who … said that … he supported the view concerning the end of the Second World War expressed in the State President's declaration'. A declaration issued by the State President on 12 January 2005 on the subject of 9 May 2005 expressed this view: 'In June 1940 the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Latvia … I would also recall with great sadness the repeated Soviet occupation of my country … for Latvia the beginning of the end of the Second World War came many decades later, on 4 May 1990 … there must be no repetition of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Yalta and the Potsdam Conference …'. Is it true that Mr Barroso expressed support for this interpretation of the history of the Second World War by Mrs Vîíe-Freiberga, including the assertion that the Soviet Union again occupied Latvia in 1945 and that for Latvia the beginning of the end of the Second World War came in 1990?


The Commission can effectively confirm that the President of the Commission, Mr Barroso, met the President of Latvia during the ceremony to mark the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.

On that occasion, the President of Latvia referred to the history of her country during the 20th century, a particularly complicated, turbulent and tragic history. As a committed European and having himself lived under a totalitarian regime, President Barroso expressed his understanding for what these people had lived through, expressing his compassion.

For President Barroso, the 1st of May 2004 marks the enlargement of the European Union and marks above all the reunification of Europe after a half century of artificial divisions.


For further press information, please contact:
Steven Cornelius
EFA Press Officer
The European Free Alliance in the European Parliament
Mobile: +32 473 56 09 67


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