Latvija in brief - 2004-08-05

  • 2004-08-05
Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks outlined new foreign policy goals for the Baltic state by saying they should be "more aggressive in a positive way." He added that Latvia should develop its own proposals instead of simply following the flow and increase participation in international organizations, like the U.N. and the OSCE. He also said that Latvia should support pre-accession talks with Turkey and lobby against EU tax harmonization.

Police detained three men in possession of two kilograms of methamphetamines. According to the police, the illegal drugs made their way into Latvia via Lithuania and had a street value of 24,000 lats (35,000 euros).

Prime Minister Indulis Emsis provided the anti-corruption bureau with evidence of corruption in the medical sector, stressing that he wanted to see concrete action in the fight against corruption from bureau chief Aleksejs Loskutovs, who has been criticized for investigating former bureau head Juta Strike and not fighting corruption.

The Cabinet of Ministers approved amendments to the budget law to provide for additional expenditure worth nearly 54.5 million lats (83.85 million euros). The total budget for 2004 will be 2.1 billion lats if the expenditures are approved by Parliament. Around 17 million lats, or almost one-third, of the new expenditures would go to the agricultural sector, which is represented in the government via the Greens and Farmers Union. Other funds would go to a number of ministries, including over 100,000 lats for the repair of the Dome Cathedral, as well as funds for new embassies in Turkey and Kazakhstan.

Twenty left-wing MPs signed a petition to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the state, to examine the legality of the coming education reform scheduled for Sept. 1 and which mandates that 60 percent of classes be taught in the state language. A general school strike has been called for by opponents of the reform.

The public policy portal celebrated its three-year anniversary. Since the beginning of the year the portal has averaged 20,000 visitors a month. In 2003 the portal was listed as one of 25 persons and organizations on the American Web site PoliticsOnline that "change the world of Internet and politics."

A new flight from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to Riga will soon be up and running and will continue on to New York, Uzbekistan Airlines announced. The flight will be biweekly and will be the first transcontinental flight to take place out of Riga International Airport.

Judicial expert Uldis Kinis will travel to Georgia along with experts from several European countries to join the EU Rule of Law mission aiding in criminal law reform. He said that Latvia's knowledge of the region and language skills, as well its own history of reform, could prove valuable. "We have introduced a new system but have not yet forgotten the previous one," he was quoted as saying.