Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee members are on a visit to the United States from March 22 to March 25 to strengthen political contacts and promote the U.S.’ cooperation with Latvia. The delegation will have meetings with congressmen, senators, representatives from the U.S. Department of State and other officials, reports LETA. “We will visit the United States to renew political contacts and establish new ones, to maintain the U.S. political circles’ interest about Latvia and the Baltic region,” explained the committee’s chairman Andris Berzins (Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way). The program for the visit is to cover as many matters that are important to Latvia as possible. Also a meeting will take place with Michael Strautmanis from the U.S. president’s administration, who has a special interest in Latvia as he was raised in a Latvian family, said Berzins. The Saeima members who will be making the trip are Berzins, Janis Eglitis (People’s Party), Vaira Paegle (Civic Union) and Uldis Ivars Grava (New Era).
The government approved Nelija Jezdakova’s candidacy for the new chief of the Latvian tax authority - the State Revenue Service. Competition for the post was announced because the government, on Feb. 2, agreed to support Finance Minister Einars Repse’s (New Era) proposal to transfer former chief Dzintars Jakans to another post within the Finance Ministry, reports the Latvian Institute. Repse pointed out that “Jezdakova is the most competent and suitable candidate and with her work she has proven to be able to perform the functions. The State Revenue Service must become a service orientated institution, changing its operation model from repressive agency to a client-orientated institution. The service must become an example for honest relationships with clients [throughout the] finance system.” Jezdakova acknowledged that “I am ready with full responsibility to undertake obligations in these times, when the country’s further development is dependent on the state revenues.”
President Valdis Zatlers on March 18 sent a letter to Speaker of Saeima Gundars Daudze, proposing Brigadier General Raimonds Graube as the next commander of the Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF). The term of current NAF Commander Juris Maklakovs will expire in June 2010. The candidate must be approved for a four-year term by the parliament, reports the Latvian Institute. Defense Minister Imants Liegis said “I highly value Graube’s candidacy, because he has already successfully proven his professional abilities in the post of commander.” Current NAF Commander Juris Maklakovs was also positive about Graube’s candidacy for this post: “As the military attache to NATO and later as the executive secretary of the Defense Ministry, he has proved himself as a professional officer, who is familiar with the situation in the armed forces and NATO. Graube has a vision for the future of the armed forces, their role in defending the state, as well as the necessary improvements in soldiers’ training and daily life.”