Latvia stands with France in wake of Paris terror attacks

Latvian officials expressed their condolences to France Saturday as details continued to emerge of a series of ghastly terror attacks in Paris on Friday night that claimed many lives.

 

President Raimonds Vejonis said he condemned the terrorist attacks that killed dozens of innocent people saying Latvia expressed sympathy for the victims and their families.

"Such attacks committed against the French capital's residents deserve condemnation as an assault on the core values of a civilized society. It reiterates to the world and each of us that we must together make every effort to fight against terrorism and violent extremism," the President said, before calling a meeting of the National Security Council to take place Saturday afternoon.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said: "This is one of the darkest hours for France and a big challenge for the whole Europe, its people and values. Today we must be strong and united to support each other and work together to tackle the biggest challenges Europe is facing right now."

Riga mayor Nils Usakovs issued a statement expressing his condolences to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

"Riga mourns with you," he said, suggesting that Riga residents should lay flowers and candles outside the French embassy.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry also added its voice, closely echoing the words of President Vejonis:

"It is already quite clear that these vicious attacks targeted residents of the French capital and represent a challenge to public order and the fundamental values of civil society. The ruthless and barbaric attacks in Paris are yet another reminder to the international community of the necessity to act jointly and with all the might at our disposal to combat terrorism and violent extremism," the Ministry said.

No Latvians had yet been identified among the victims of the attacks, the Ministry added, advising travellers to France to be aware of raised security and the reintroduction of border controls after French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency across the country.

The Ministry also provided a reminder that Latvians abroad can call a special emergency hotline:

Even the Finance Ministry added its voice to the calls for dignified remembrance.

By mid-morning Saturday, flowers and candles were already appearing outside the French embassy in central Riga, just as they had after the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier in the year.

Yet even while the identities and backgrounds of the gunmen who carried out the attacks were still being investigated by French police, some Latvian politicians were quick to point the finger of blame at immigrants.

Janis Dombrava, a member of parliament with the right-wing National Alliance, one of three parties in the ruling government coalition said: "Europe must close the gates of immigration. In the name of national security, Latvia must abandon immigrant quotas."

 

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