Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia

24.03.2004. 14:57

On March 20, the disarmament of Saddam Hussein's regime by military means has begun.

Twelve years of prolonged effort by the international community to disarm the Hussein regime by peaceful means have ended in failure; diplomatic resources have been exhausted.

Since 1990, the UN Security Council has adopted 17 resolutions demanding the disarmament of Iraq and its cooperation with the United Nations. On 8 November 2002, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1441, offering Saddam Hussein the final opportunity to finish his twelve-year long confrontation with the international community and willingly and unconditionally comply with the demands of the UN Security Council to fully disarm. The Iraqi regime is solely and exclusively responsible for the consequences of its actions.

It is the responsibility of the international community to eliminate the threat posed by the uncontrolled proliferation of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and the danger that they could fall into the hands of international terrorists, to be used against the peaceful inhabitants of any nation in the world. The flouting of UN Security Council resolutions, which undermines the authority of the United Nations and the international order, cannot be allowed to occur.

The Parliament of the Republic of Latvia has taken the decision "On the Support of the Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution Nr 1441" pledging support to and readiness to join the efforts of the international coalition aiming at disarmament of Iraq. We support the military forces of our coalition partners who, in risking their lives, are averting threats to peace and international security.

Latvia stresses that the utmost possible must be done to avoid civilian casualties in the course of the military operation. The people of Iraq have already suffered heavily as a result of the crimes of the Hussein regime.

Latvia will offer humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, take part in the rebuilding of the country and work to eliminate the legacy of totalitarianism.

Latvia regrets that Saddam Hussein has managed to split the international community, making any further diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation impossible. Latvia will support the involvement of the UN in the post-conflict rebuilding and establishment of a democratic Iraq. We are convinced that active involvement by the UN following the conclusion of military action in Iraq will secure the authority of the UN in the international community.

(end of text)