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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Press hails 'convincing' Yes vote
Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga
Latvians agree with President to join EU

Latvian papers welcome the Yes vote in the country's referendum on EU membership. But they also note that the benefits will not come for free.

One paper highlights problems currently facing the governing coalition.

"Latvia returns to Europe. Latvia convincingly votes Yes", says a headline in the leading Diena daily.

The paper says the decisive factor was probably the understanding that a small country cannot survive on its own.

"This is an argument which was heard again and again from those who voted," it says.

Elsewhere, the paper quotes former Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis as saying he feels personally vindicated by the outcome.

"I am pleased that the convictions which I have upheld for the past decade have been confirmed. The old maxim that the people are smarter than the politicians has been confirmed," he says.

On the night of the vote it became very clear that the government has plans only for the immediate future
Rigas Balss

Georgs Andrejevs, the Latvian ambassador to the Council of Europe, warns that this is only a beginning.

"This is a great relief, but it will be followed by lots of work which we must do," he says, according to Diena.

"To be sure, we will get nothing for free, but if we work, we will reap the fruits of our labour, not just crumbs as has been the case until now," he adds.

Dirty linen

Another daily, Rigas Balss, worries that the government may not be up to the task ahead.

"It is clear now that Latvia is a Euro-centric country," the paper says.

"In other words, everything is fine, and today we can roll up our sleeves and get busy," the paper adds.

But it complains that the government has not yet developed a plan to promote Latvia's integration into the EU.

The people were voting on their destiny, not watching another talent competition
Neatkariga Rita Avize

"On the night of the vote it became very clear that the government has plans only for the immediate future," the paper says.

The Neatkariga Rita Avize prefers to focus on a public slanging match aired on Latvian TV shortly after polling stations closed.

The debate erupted after the leader of one of the four governing coalition parties, Eriks Jekabsons, said Latvia was on the brink of dictatorship and that the only way out was to replace the prime minister, Einars Repse.

"It turned out that the huge television audience... proved to be far too tempting for politicians who wanted to air their dirty laundry in public once again," the paper complains.

It says the quarrel among the governing parties occurred at the wrong place and the wrong time, when people wanted to celebrate.

"Even the most selfish and self-righteous politicians should have understood that. The people were voting on their destiny, not watching another talent competition," the paper says.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"Latvians' have put the past well and truly behind them"

Latvia votes Yes to EU entry
21 Sep 03  |  Europe
Latvia wrestles with EU dream
20 Sep 03  |  Europe
Timeline: Latvia
22 Jun 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Latvia
09 Sep 03  |  Country profiles

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