Latvija in brief - 2004-07-22

  • 2004-07-22
The Foreign Ministry has announced that it was still in support of resuming work by the Latvian-Russian intergovernmental committee, which has been in limbo, not convening for the past seven years. The ministry answered to a note submitted by the Russian Foreign Ministry, stating "We have not changed our attitude - we have always called upon Russia for joint efforts, unfortunately Russia had not shown the will to resume work [of the inter-governmental committee]," Andris Teikmanis, deputy state secretary of the ministry, said.

According to the Education Ministry, scholarships to study in Denmark were the most sought after for Latvian students. The opportunity to study in English was given as one reason why Latvian students often choose Denmark for study. There are now three applicants for every scholarship spot. The desire to study in Russia was exceptionally low. Danish scholarships will cease to exist in the future since the EU has expanded, the ministry said.

In the first half of this year the Latvian state border patrol fired 14 border guards, 11 of which were dismissed for drinking. The remaining three were let go for disciplinary reasons, the border patrol said. Last year 18 guards were removed, nine of whom were also let go for drinking.

AirBaltic chief Bertolt Flick arrived in Ventspils in a 50-seat plane, saying that Ventspils was ready for small domestic flights. AirBaltic flights to the western port city would not begin this year, Flick said, but may in the future. Ventspils might also be ready for short international flights in the near future.

Over 200 people were evacuated from Riga Airport due to a bomb scare on July 20. A souvenir clock, apparently left behind by a tourist, was mistaken for a bomb. The airport's president expect the police to open an investigation.

The situation with traffic accidents in Latvia has become so appalling that the head of the Human Rights Office has intervened to offer his proposals for increasing safety. "If transgressors of traffic safety opt for disrespect, impudence, brutality, aggressiveness and posing a threat to the lives of other motorists, the community that respects the law and the rights of other drivers should launch an unsparing battle against these transgressors," Olafs Bruvers, the head of the office, said after meeting with Public Order Police Chief Aivars Grigulis to discuss the problem.

Some 1,250,000 packs of contraband tobacco products were found in an airplane hangar outside the central city of Jekabpils. The bust was the largest in its history for Latvian police. The value of the illegal products was placed at 6.35 million euros, if sold in Western Europe. Two men were detained in connection with the contraband tobacco products.