On Monday, Ossur Skarphedinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, was present at the inauguration of the Iceland square in Riga, with Girts Valdis Kristovskis, Latvia's Minister for Foreign Affairs. The two ministers unveiled a memorial, in rememberance to Iceland being the first state to recognise Latvia's independence, 20 years ago. In his address Kristovskis acknowledged that none of Riga's streets or squares were named after other states, and that this was the first time such appreciation was done. Kristovskis said this was a token of the appreciation the Latvian people have for the Icelandic people for breaking the ice, and in so doing, paving the way to independence, as the minister put it.
In his address, Ossur Skarphedinsson said that Icelanders were deeply grateful to be afforded this honor. At the time, Iceland had only done what was considered to be right, that is to fully support the sovereignty and independence of the Baltic countries. The minister said that it was important for small nations to stand united, especially in a world governed by interests and force. Mr. Skarphedinsson thanked the Latvian people for showing their friendship and support to Iceland during the past years. He said that the memorial in the Iceland square reflected the good relations between the states and that hopefully it would from now on serve as a gathering place for Latvians and Icelanders. The ceremony was attended by many guests, including Nils Ushakovs, the Mayor of Riga, and Georgs Andrejevs, who was a member of Latvia's Parliament during the period leading up to the country's independence.
Earlier on Monday, Skarphedinsson, had a meeting with his Latvian counterpart, where the two discussed, i.a. bilateral relations between the states, cooperation between the Nordic countries and the Baltic countries and international security matters. The ministers discussed the situation with Iceland's accession talks with the EU and the Latvian minister declared his full support to Iceland's application. Skarphedinsson also had a meeting with Latvia's newly elected president, Andris Berzins, who took office on July 8th. Bilateral relations, the international situation with regard to financial markets and European affairs in a wider context, were among the topics of the minister's meeting with the president.