Zatlers takes the helm

  • 2007-07-09
  • From wire reports
RIGA - Latvia's new President Valdis Zatlers was sworn in at an inauguration ceremony at parliament on Sunday July 8, followed by a multi-denominational ceremony at Riga Dome Cathedral.

"I swear that all of my work will be dedicated to the welfare of the people of Latvia. I will do everything in my power to promote the prosperity of the Republic of Latvia and all who live here. I will hold sacred and will observe the Constitution of Latvia and the laws of the state. I will act justly towards all and will fulfil my duties conscientiously," the new president said, taking the solemn oath of office.

Zalters was elected Latvian president in a parliamentary ballot by 58 votes to 40 on May 31.

The new president, 52, is married and has three children. He graduated from the Riga Medical Institute and has been heading the Hospital of Traumatology and Orthopedics in Riga since 1994.

Zatlers started his career as an accidental-orthopedic surgeon, and later became the head of the accident surgery department of the Riga 2nd Hospital.

The new head of the Latvian state was an activist of the Popular Front that spearheaded the restoration of Latvia's independence. He also participated in rescue efforts after the devastating nuclear accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the 1980s.

Zatlers has been awarded the Order of Three Stars, the highest Latvian state decoration. He speaks fluent English and Russian.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga stepped down on Saturday after serving two consecutive terms as Latvian president. She was first elected Latvian president in 1999, and was re-elected in 2003.