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    RIGA, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - The Latvian parliament adopted Thursday a law on the country's joining the North Atlantic Treaty. 77 deputies voted for it, six were against, five abstained.

    Latvian Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete, speaking at a plenary session of the parliament on this issue called the decision "historical." In her words, having adopted a law on joining NATO, Latvia "again took its proper place in the family of European states." "Today, having voted for joining the North Atlantic alliance, you have left for good in the past tens of years of occupation, as well as those times when Latvian citizens could not feel safe and protected in their motherland," she said. (Latvian authorities call Latvia's being part of the USSR the country's occupation).

    In his turn, deputy from the opposition Socialist Party of Latvia, Alexander Golubov said that having voted for joining NATO, deputies have voted for "Latvia's occupation." "After recent statements of NATO military leaders in Latvia we can expect foreign troops here soon," he said.

    The adoption of Latvia, as well as six other countries in NATO is planned in early April 2004.

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