Latvija in brief - 2007-08-22

  • 2007-08-22

President Valdis Zatlers,European Court of Justice JudgeEgils Levits and European Courtof Human Rights judge IneseZiemele all agreed on Aug. 17 onthe necessity to create aConstitutional Commission 'sunder the president's auspices 'swhich would deal with proposedamendments to the constitution.The president stressed that thecommission would be neutraland academic in nature, and saidthat the experts who will participatein the commission will benamed within a month. The newcommission would offer analysisof proposed amendments whilethe actual decision making wouldremain in the hands ofParliament.

In response to concernsvoiced by a number of EU lawmakersabout undesirable investments,particularly from Russia,Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitissaid that the government isclosely following the influx ofinvestments from third countriesand he believes that there isnothing to worry about. He saidthat there is no reason to believeRussia is gaining a foothold onstrategic markets in the Latvianeconomy. He explained that theonly major areas showingRussian investment are inLatvijas Gaze, which is splitbetween German and Russianinvestors, and in the real estatemarket, taking the form ofexpensive summer homes inhigh-class areas.

Archeological excavations innorthern Latvia found a 7,000year old grave containing thebodies of two teenagers duringwork that took place from July 30to Aug. 18. The graves will provideuseful information aboutLatvian spiritual rituals duringthe Stone Age. The excavationwork, which took place aroundBurtnieku Lake, was conductedby Latvian and Swedish archeologists,some of whom were students.The dig uncovered trovesof amber trinkets, and theresearchers believe that there isstill more to be found at the site.

Recent announcements by theLatvian Medical and Social CareEmployee Trade Union and theEducation and Science Ministryhave revealed a massive shortageof specialists in both areas.A report by the EducationMinistry said that Latvia is shortby about 450 teachers. The reportalso noted that teachers areworking approximately 1.2 timesmore than the average workload.Medical institutions are facingan even more drastic shortage ofqualified staff, with LVSADA representativespredicting a"tragedy" approaching due to agrowing number of vacancies inmedical institutions.

A new Web site for theLatvian Institute, a governmentsubsidized organization aimingto promote Latvian culturearound the world, opened on Aug.20. "The LI homepage willbecome an official representationof Latvia online," the institute'sspokeswoman said. The newhomepage will feature informationpertaining to Latvian news,history, the government andpolitical system, the country'seconomic situation and culture.It will maintain the same domainname,, and will nowinclude links to the other staterun Web pages.