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Usakovs does not see any problem with his attempts to meet with NATO representatives

RIGA - Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony) met with NATO representatives to discuss various current matters, the politician's press secretary Laila Ivana told LETA.

She said that Usakovs meets with politicians from various countries on a regular basis, as well as representatives from various institutions and organizations, to exchange opinions and discuss current matters, and this was not exception.

Ivana said that Usakovs met with NATO representatives as the head of Latvia's largest political party.

The mayor's press secretary did not give any more comments about the matter, nor whether Usakovs has been invited for a discussion with Latvian security services.

As reported, Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs, the leader of Harmony, had attempted through the European Socialist Party to organize a private meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and come to an ''unprecedented agreement'' on local government cooperation with NATO, which leads to some believing of hidden political objective by the Riga mayor, the newspaper Neatkariga wrote last week.

Usakovs had sought out contacts within the European Socialist Party to set-up a private meeting with Stoltenberg, as the NATO secretary-general was once the leader of the Norwegian Labour Party, which is a full-fledged member of the European Socialist Party. According to unofficial information, Usakovs had contacted leaders from the European Socialist Party and asked them to help him set-up a private meeting with Stoltenberg. It is also believed that some of these European Socialist Party leaders agreed to assist Usakovs in his request.

''He was received as any local government representative would have been received,'' an anonymous source said, meaning that the Riga mayor met with a lower rank alliance representative at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Furthermore, adhering to regular procedure, the NATO administration informed of this meeting to Latvia and representatives from Latvia's diplomatic service were invited to the meeting.

The Latvian diplomats present were surprised when Usakovs expressed the desire for cooperation between the Riga municipality and NATO. The Riga mayor had hoped that alliance soldiers would become involved in the Riga City Council's educational and integration program for students. Usakovs had hoped that the soldiers could visit Russian-speaking schools, to talk to students about NATO's presence in Latvia to bring them closer to Western values and facilitate more trust to this organizations. Usakovs' request was denied.

As the newspaper writes, taking into account Harmony's reputation, it is assumed that this was a provocation attempt, to stir up trouble in wake of the educational reforms currently being discussed, and then use the visit of NATO soldiers to these schools for propaganda purposes and present the whole situation in a diametrically opposite way than what Usakovs himself had proposed. Latvian security services have also been informed of the meeting.

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