PM participates in Paris show of unity

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma stood alongside world leaders in Paris on January 11 as part of a huge show of unity by public and officials alike in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings of January 7.

"The Prime Minister extended condolences to President of France François Hollande and expressed Latvia’s solidarity with the people of France on the day of national unity manifestation," a statement by the government press office said.

"During informal meetings with the leaders of many countries - France, Germany, Nordic countries, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Georgia, European Parliament, as well as the European Commission and NATO – the Prime Minister pointed out that we feel sad for the victims but determined to defend European values."

Also on Sunday culture ministers from all 28 European Union member states - including Culture Minister Dace Melbarde - issued a joint statement defending the freedom of the press saying:

"In this time of profound sadness and grief, we, the ministers of culture of the European Union, condemn this senseless barbarity, which attempts to undermine our essential values in the most violent way. 

"We unanimously express our belief that artistic freedom and freedom of expression stand firm and unflinching at the heart of our common European values.

"France and her allies in the EU safeguard these values and promote them in the world. We affirm our determination to continue to do so in the future.

We, the ministers of culture of the European Union, do not accept terrorists’ attempts to impose their own standards.

Since time immemorial, the arts have been an inspiration for reflection giving rise to new ideas and fighting against intolerance and ignorance. It is the freedom of expression in a culturally diverse environment that brings these ideas into meaningful dialogue.

"We, the ministers of culture of the European Union, stand in solidarity to defend the freedom of expression and vow to protect the rights of artists to create freely."

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