The contract on the controversial Riga Concert Hall project, signed by the state agency Jaunie tris brali and the AB.SZK architect offices, was officially terminated on April 3. AB.SZK confirmed it had not started design work; therefore termination of the contract would not incur any losses for the national budget. The 6.77 million lat contract was signed on December 30 last year. However, then acting Minister of Culture Edgars Zalans ordered the contract terminated amid cost blowouts and dwindling state resources. It is planned that work on the design project could resume after the economic situation in Latvia normalizes.
Relations between Latvia and Estonia are the best they've ever been, according to the countries' leaders. Latvian President Valdis Zatlers was given a warm welcome by his Estonian counterpart Toomas Hendrik Ilves while on an official visit to the neighboring Baltic State. "The residents of these two neighboring countries are closely connected by many hundreds of years of living side by side," the president's press service said. Zatlers, who arrived in Estonia on a two-day state visit on April 7, held discussions on economic issues, the proposed energy link with Sweden, as well as further cooperation in the areas of culture and defense.
Latvian airline airBaltic plans increase the frequency of flights between Latvia and Lithuania. The airline has announced plans to add direct flights on the Palanga-Riga route. From June 1 airBaltic will increase the frequency to 10 flights per week. The airline will also fly bigger aircraft on the Vilnius-Riga route and provide improved transit options for passengers traveling via Riga to and from Western Europe, CIS countries, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean region. AirBaltic is currently considering new destinations from Riga to be announced after Easter.
Latvian writer and documentary film student Maira Dobele has won the Latvian Annual Literature Award for her debut novel for young readers, "School of Wrong Life." The book explores themes of friendships, self-understanding and sexual awakening as its teenage protagonist attempts to build a relationship with her mother after her father's death. Dobele was born in 1976 and has lived in Helsinki since 2003 where she is studying documentary film at the University of Arts and Design Helsinki. The most highly acclaimed literature prize is awarded by the Latvian Writers' Union.
Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins has confirmed Latvia's continued support for the stabilization and development of Afghanistan. "Latvia's investment in the military operation, in proportion to its population, is one of the greatest among not only NATO forces, but also the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), said Riekstins. The minister confirmed that the international military operation in Afghanistan will remain a priority in Latvia's security policy in the future. The minister was speaking at an international conference "Afghanistan: An Overall Strategy in a Regional Context" which took place at The Hague last month.