With document handoff, Latvia joins NATO

Latvian Prime Minister Indulis Emsis submitted his nation’s NATO accession documents to the U.S. State Department on March 29 in Washington, D.C., making official Latvia’s entry into the defense alliance. The United States is the official repository for NATO documents.

Emsis, along with Defense Minister Atis Slakteris and other Latvian officials, then headed off to a White House ceremong to celebrate with U.S. President George W. Bush and leaders from six other nations, according to a statement from the White House. Besides Latvia, the other new members of NATO are Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Members of the local Latvian community also were present at the ceremony.

Before returning home, Slakteris is scheduled to meet with U.S. and NATO military officials to discuss Latvia’s role in the defense alliance, according to a press release from the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, which will include raising the Latvian flag, is scheduled April 2.

NATO now stands at 26 member states, including Canada and the United States, as well as much of Europe.

Latvia’s permanent representative to NATO is Imants Viesturs Lieģis, who was born and raised in the Latvian exile community in the United Kingdom.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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