Latvia in brief - 2006-04-19

  • 2006-04-19
Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks asserted Latvia's readiness to strengthen economic and cultural cooperation with Egypt while on an official visit to the Arab state. Meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Pabriks expressed Latvia's eagerness to open an embassy in Egypt and to foster economic ties between the two countries. Pabriks also voiced Latvia's readiness to develop cultural projects with Egypt and expand business. The Egyptian foreign minister, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction over the rising number of tourists from Latvia.

Former interior minister and former Latvia's First Party leader Eriks Jekabsons said that, within the next two weeks, he would finally decide whether to stay in politics and perhaps run in the parliamentary elections. Jekabsons told the Baltic News Service that "the dilemma is very complicated," and that he was currently considering various plans, including continuing his political career. "Of course, I have a lot of experience... but this is not a popularity competition, it is a large responsibility," said Jekabsons, who has previously hinted at joining a centrist right-winged party. The Latvia's First founder did not reveal which party's ideas he most related to. In November 2005, Jekabsons decided to quit LPP when he discovered that the party board intended to assess his activities. Jekabsons is currently an independent lawmaker.

Border guards seized seven contraband icons on April 14. State Border Guard spokeswoman Dace Udre told the Baltic News Service that seven icons were found in a BMW 735 crossing the Russian-Latvian border. The icons were hidden in the front door's upholstery. The smuggled icons and the 50-year-old driver, a Latvian citizen, were taken to customs officers. The approximate value of the smuggled goods is not known yet.

The number of new HIV cases registered in the first three months this year has reached 95, half of which were registered in March, the AIDS Prevention Center reported. In 2005, medics diagnosed 299 new cases of HIV. By the end of February this year, 48 new cases were registered, and 47 more in March, bringing Latvia's total number of HIV positive residents to 3,427. AIDS Prevention Center spokeswoman Ieva Tuca said the large number recorded in March was just a coincidence.

The European Court of Human Rights received 345 claims from Latvian applicants last year, although more than 100 were not being registered due to procedural violations. The court did register 234 claims - 111 less than received 's according to a report by international human rights institutions. Of the claims registered, the court rejected 92 applications. Until now, the ECHR has ruled against Latvia in seven cases. The court mainly received complaints about violations of personal freedom and security, the right to fair trial, privacy and family life and efficient protection of rights.