If a downtown Rīga boulevard could be renamed for Latvia’s first foreign minister, then why not the country’s leading airport? That’s the suggestion of Rīga Mayor Jānis Birks.
Speaking to Latvian Independent Television, Birks on June 17 suggested authorities consider renaming Rīga International Airport to Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics Airport. Meierovics served as Latvia’s first foreign minister and wanted to open the country to the world, Birks said, according to media reports.
Birks’ suggestion comes as the Rīga City Council waits to act on a proposal to rename Basteja Boulevard to Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics Boulevard.
Krišjānis Peters, chairman of the airport’s board of directors, supports the idea of adding the Meierovics name to the airport, but only as a secondary title, according to the Delfi portal. The airport is 100 percent owned by the Latvian government.
Transport Minister Ainārs Šlesers, meanwhile, opposes the idea.
“The airport with its RIX name has earned itself international recognition,” he said in a press release. “It has become a brand as with any respectable company, be it BMW, Audi or Nike. Changing the name would cause miscomprehension and would raise questions if by chance another airport has not appeared in Latvia.”
Meierovics, who became foreign minister when Latvia declared its independence in 1918, died in a one-car accident in 1925.
Basteja Boulevard, which runs at the edge of Rīga’s Old Town, was called Meierovics Boulevard from 1929 until 1941. Current Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš suggested earlier this year that the Meierovics name be restored, an idea supported by President Valdis Zatlers and the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība), among others.
Birks, however, would rather leave the Basteja name, according to media reports. A city council commission overseeing place names is against the change to Meierovics Boulevard, citing the historical significance of Basteja Boulevard.
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