Latvija in brief - 2005-11-23

  • 2005-11-23
Parliament rejected New Era-proposed Constitution amendments annulling MP immunity from administrative punishment. Parliament was previously expected to vote on the amendments twice, but the coalition failed to gather a quorum. Yet in its third attempt, the proposed amendments were supported by 52 MPs with 22 voting against and 15 abstentions. In order to pass, amendments must be supported by at least 67 out of a total of 100 Parliament members.

Defense Minister Einars Repse has demanded that Gaidis Andrejs Zeibots, commander of the Latvian armed forces, provide explanations regarding irregularities found in army facilities' storage of ammunition. Repse also wants to track down those officials responsible for failing to ensure necessary control.

MP Augusts Brigmanis from the ruling Greens and Farmers Union, who is also the vice-chairman of the parliamentary human rights and social affairs committee, told the Baltic News Service that the committee had examined the Latvian labor market's future situation. The committee did not make any decisions, but concluded that, theoretically, Latvia might need workers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine in four years. "The current labor force is growing old, but the new generation presently goes abroad for work in large numbers," Brigmanis said, adding that it was not yet clear "how many workers from abroad will be necessary, if any."

The government decided to buy a $2.6 million building in Washington D.C. for the Latvian Embassy to the United States. Latvian ambassador to the United States Maris Riekstins will sign the purchase agreement on behalf of Latvia, while Latvia's Foreign Ministry will report to the government on its progress. The current premises are rented for $69,600 a year, but are not appropriate for representation purposes.

A 27-year-old woman gave birth to triplet boys at a hospital in Riga. Natalija Valujeva, a doctor from the Riga Maternity Hospital, said the boys, born by Caesarian, were the first offspring for the family. Valujeva said the babies were born during the mother's 34th week of pregnancy and their health and development corresponded to pregnancy term. The triplets are in the hospital's intensive care unit, but their condition is stable.

Latvia and Serbia and Montenegro's foreign ministers signed the first bilateral agreement about preventing double taxation for income and capital taxes. Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks stressed the need to develop bilateral economic cooperation during talks with his Serbia and Montenegro counterpart, Vuk Draskovic. Pabriks said that, so far, economic cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro had been inactive, but exports to this Balkan country increased sharply this year. Pabriks' spokeswoman, Ina Saleniece, said that the next bilateral agreement could deal with investment protection. The draft agreement was sent to the embassy of Serbia and Montenegro in Stockholm last week.