Latvia goes green in Berlin

Latvia's stand at the 80th International Green Week 2015 (IGW) was officially opened in Berlin Friday, a day after Latvia played a central role in the opening of the overall event.

Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs was in attendance, emphasizing that Latvia’s 'leitmotif' for the week is “Latvia – take your time”, as the country pushed its credentials as one of the greenest in the world.

“Those who have already been to Latvia will confirm that Latvia is a hospitable and beautiful country with a wonderful nature, not significantly altered by man... Moreover, Latvia is also one of the recognized destinations of eco-tourism in the world," Dūklavs said.

Latvia is being promoted as a country where there are state-of-art, strong and sustainable agricultural and food sectors as well as diverse small producers and a thriving eco-tourism sector.

Speaking to LSM from the stand itself, Eva Staltmane of the rural tourism association Lauku Ceļotājs said:

"It's really a success - we're getting huge interest from official delegations, journalists and members of the public.

"A lot of people are coming to the stand saying they are impressed and now really want to visit Latvia. They have strong local traditions of their own and they are interested in ours.

There are around 500 products from Latvia represented, giving producer "a great chance" to meet German partners and reach a wider audience, Staltmane added.

"For us in tourism this is completely new - tourism expos are nothing like on this scale."

On Thursday Latvian President Andris Berzins wowed the crowds by speaking at length in German, she said.

"The fact that he spoke in German was really appreciated by the locals - he got a big round of applause at the end."

While this is Latvia’s twentieth time taking part in the expo, this year it is getting much more attention as the state currently presiding over the Council of the EU, which means it is also the partner-state for Europe’s largest food and gardening industry gathering.

To promote Latvia’s sector industries at the same time as serving to co-launch this year’s Green Week, huge posters touting life in the land adorn this year’s expanded stand, folk dancing and music groups performed, and there were plenty of mentions of Latvia during the speeches at the opening ceremony, which assembled thousands of people, from the interested public to VIPs among politicians and high-level agricultural officials.

Altogether up to half-a-million people are expected to attend the event until its closing on January 25.

Andra Ūdre, a representative of the organizing committee told LSM:

“We’re reflecting all of Latvia, not just agriculturally, but for the general tourist as well,”

"Latvia’s forests get a special stand – green, full of trees and attractions for kids, a barefoot path. Something good for everybody. We’re showing off our agriculture with milk products and meadows. Products organized by themes and characteristic objects that Germans love,” she said.

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