Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Mrs. Sandra Kalniete

24.03.2004. 14:57

Leaders of 8 NATO member countries have made a joint statement calling for Europe and America to stand united in resolving the Iraq crisis. Latvia supports this call. Latvia believes that the transatlantic link embodied by NATO is of vital importance. The US plays a crucial role in the European security. European allies stand together with the US to defend the common values against the shared threats.

Latvia has repeatedly stressed that Iraq must fully comply with its international obligations and get rid of its weapons of mass destruction, which present a clear threat to the world peace and security. The UN Security Council has demanded Iraq's disarmament, and the Security Council should see to it that Saddam Hussein does what he is obliged to do. Over the last 12 years there have been 16 UN SC resolutions on Iraq, which have not discouraged Iraq from its weapons programs. It is time for Baghdad to comply, and it is time for the UN to take care of its credibility and enforce the compliance.

UN SC resolution 1441 has offered Iraq the last chance to fulfill its previous commitments and disarm. It is the responsibility of Saddam's regime to prove that this disarmament is taking place. Inspectors- job is not to play "hide and seek" with Iraqi authorities, inspectors are there to register the disarmament. Latvia urges Iraq to take advantage of this last chance presented by the UN SC resolution 1441, if Iraq does not want to take upon itself responsibility about military solution to the present crisis.

Latvia will stand together with its allies as the international community enforces disarmament of Iraq. Allies can count on Latvia's participation in the resolution of the crisis. Latvia's air space will be available for the purposes of the coalition operations. We have considered our military resources that we can offer to such and operation, and we will be ready to contribute, should the need arise.

(end of text)