Saeima on April 15 confirmed Brigadier General Raimonds Graube as the next National Armed Forces commander, reports LETA. 84 Saeima members voted for Graube, six voted against and three abstained. Four candidates were appraised by the National Security Council for the position: former military representative at the Latvian Permanent Representation at NATO, Graube, who had already held the post of the Armed Forces commander: current military representative at the Latvian Permanent Representation at NATO, Brigadier General Juris Kiukucans; the Baltic Defense College Commander Gundars Abols and the head of the Armed Forces Joint Staff Andis Dilans. Graube received unanimous support from the National Security Council’s members. The current Armed Forces Commander, Major General Juris Maklakovs’ term of office will expire in July this year.
Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis and the leaders of the coalition partners have agreed to also consider non-partisan candidates for ministerial posts left vacant by the departure of the People’s Party, reports the Latvian Institute. Replacements are being sought for ministers of Foreign Affairs, Health and Justice. The LPP/LC based its decision not to join the government on an expressed desire to cooperate and “act loyally to the state,” but the party believes the period of time until the election is too short to bring any changes to the government’s work. The party’s nominated Karina Petersone who was supported by the coalition and approved for the vacant post of the Deputy Speaker of the Saeima.
On April 12, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that “Defense plans for all NATO member states, including the Baltics, are on the alliance’s agenda,” reports the Latvian Institute. He said “the political and military leaders of the Baltic countries know what these security plans mean.” Rasmussen also said that the Baltic countries could rely on long-term military air space monitoring. He also welcomed the Baltic contribution to the NATO military mission in Afghanistan and thanked Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, that despite the consequences of the financial crisis, the Baltic countries had not cut their budgets for participation in these operations.