Latvija in brief - 2008-02-13

  • 2008-02-13
Latvia replaced its two most important ambassadors on Feb. 12, when President Valdis Zatlers met with both the incoming U.S. Ambassador Charles W. Larson and incoming Russian Ambassador Alexander Veshnakov. During his meeting with the new U.S. ambassador, Zatlers praised the strong relations between the two countries and discussed cooperation in the peace-keeping missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. In his meeting with the incoming Russian ambassador, Zatlers emphasized improvements in economic cooperation, and said Latvia is interested in forming "respectful and constructive bilateral relations with its neighboring country." The U.S. and Russian ambassadors replaced the outgoing Catherine Todd-Bailey and Alexander Kalyuzhny.

The State Language Agency unveiled plans on Feb. 8 to start a radio campaign aimed at popularizing communication in the state language. The advertising agency Sireall is running the project, and has already created six commercial clips 's three for native speakers and three for non-native speakers. The commercials geared toward Latvians are meant to promote the everyday use of the Latvian language, while the other advertisements include incentives to learn the language.  The campaign, which will cost a total of 20,000 lats to implement, will run on six different radio stations from Feb. 11 to March 2.

The government decided on Feb. 12 to continue with the plan to build a massive new national library. Though there is still no date set to begin construction, government representatives said the project would be finished by 2012.  In a statement released later that day, Three Young Brothers, the company in charge of planning and constructing the library, said they would be able to begin construction later this year. The first round of construction will cost an estimated 16 million lats, while the latest estimates for the final cost of the project hovers around 164 million lats.

The government on Feb. 12 decided to recall a police officer stationed in Afghanistan for dire breaches of discipline. Interior Minister Mareks Seglins asked the Cabinet to include the question of whether to recall Edgars Trapss on the agenda of a government meeting after Trapss reportedly arrived for a meeting heavily drunk during the minister's last visit to the country. Trapss was given a breathalyzer test and registered a blood alcohol level of 1.2 ppm. He will be replaced by railway police Colonel Aivars Zilinskis. Trapss was one of two police officers stationed in the country, working alongside 98 servicemen.

An evangelical Lutheran clergyman from the northern-Latvian town of Valmiera was dismissed from his duties on Feb. 8 for leading an immoral lifestyle. Valters Koralis, a clergyman at St. Simanis Church, was dismissed by the Bishop's board based on the conclusion that he had repeatedly and over a long period of time broken the Ten Commandments and the clergymen's code of ethics. Koralis told the Baltic News Service that while he led an immoral lifestyle in the past, he thought that the Bishop's board had ulterior motives in dismissing him.