Latvija in brief - 2012-02-09

  • 2012-02-08

“I am a bit angry when I am asked such stupid questions - whether I want two state languages or not. I believe that we already answered the question in 1992 and 1993, and I do not understand why we have returned to it,” emphasized Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks. The newly-elected Commissioner says he will participate in the Feb. 18 state language referendum and vote against making Russian a second official language in Latvia, reports LETA. “I will take part in the referendum and will vote against [having] two state languages,” Muiznieks said. The commissioner is appalled that such a referendum is actually possible in Latvia, since the country, upon restoring its independence, chose Latvian as the only official language.

There was a three percent reduction in the number of babies born in Latvia last year when compared to 2010, reports the daily Diena. In 2011, 18,620 children were born in Latvia, which was by 599 less than in 2010, according to information from the Central Statistical Bureau. Commenting on the situation, Welfare Minister Ilze Vinkele (Unity) said: “Knowing the migration trends in Latvia, as well as the demographic situation, this is not surprising. At the same time, these figures are also very concerning. We must find some sort of solution this year.” Furthermore, when compared to 2008, when 23,948 children were born, there has been a 22 percent reduction in the number of births in Latvia in 2011.

The next school year will begin and end as it does now, Education and Science Minister Roberts Kilis said on Feb. 7 during a Saeima Education, Science and Culture Committee meeting, reports LETA. However, the length of the 2013/2014 school year is still to be evaluated. Kilis previously allowed the possibility that the school year in Latvia could be extended from the next school year already, and will certainly be extended by the 2013/2014 school year. But the minister also emphasized previously that these changes will only be implemented if all the sides involved - parents and teachers - agree to the changes. Kilis said that pupils in Latvia attend school 169 days, whilst in other countries from 181-184 days.

Sixty-two percent of Latvian residents are content with their lives, according to a Eurobarometer survey carried out this past fall, reports LETA. Eleven percent of respondents are “very happy” with their lives, whilst 51 percent are “quite satisfied.” In the spring of 2011, 60 percent of Latvian residents were “comfortable” with their lives. Among the Baltic States, the highest proportion of the people who are content with their lives was recorded in Estonia, at 69 percent. Lithuania ranked last with 57 percent. The average figure across the European Union is at 75 percent. The most satisfied residents are in Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, where their share amounts to 97 percent.