A reduction in defense funding to under 1 percent of gross domestic product may create the wrong impression that Latvia is not fulfilling its obligations; therefore a gradual increase in defense funding by at least 0.1 percent of GDP must resume, the Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee says in a letter to the government, reports LETA. Defense funding must be increased in accordance with the National Defense Concept, which says that if the economic situation improves in the country, funding for defense must be renewed, explains the letter. The letter, signed by Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee Chairman Ainars Latkovskis, also states that the committee previously called on the prime minister and finance minister to solve the problem of soldiers and defense officials’ social guarantees by including the guarantees in the national budget’s expenditures. The letter is one of the documents that the government will review, along with other documents accompanying the 2014-2016 state budget, during an extraordinary meeting on Aug. 8.
Most Latvian residents are convinced that the European Union plays an important role in the world, according to the Eurobarometer 79 spring survey, reports LETA. Seventy-nine percent of Latvian residents agree that the voice of the EU is taken into account worldwide, while 15 percent disagree, and 6 percent have no opinion. Latvia is also among the countries whose residents consider the EU a key player in global politics. Only the residents of Luxembourg (81 percent), Sweden (82 percent) and Denmark (85 percent) are more convinced about the bloc playing a huge role in global politics. Seventy-eight percent of Estonian residents believe that the voice of the EU is taken into account all around the world, compared to 72 percent of residents in Lithuania. At least 50 percent of residents in each member state believe that the voice of the EU is important worldwide. The lowest figure is in Italy - 50 percent. In Croatia, the bloc’s newcomer, the figure is at 65 percent. Overall, 67 percent of EU residents believe that the bloc’s voice is important worldwide. The Eurobarometer 79 spring survey was carried out between May 10 and 26, interviewing 32,694 persons in EU member states and candidate countries.
Latvia’s oldest town of Ludza (in eastern Latvia) marked its 836th anniversary with a number of various events on Aug. 3, said public relations manager Svetlana Rimsa, reports LETA. The celebrations included a traditional crafts fair, handball, volleyball and chess competitions, a concert by children’s dance ensembles and choirs, painting and photography exhibitions, a major party in the evening, and many other events throughout the day. The celebrations were to continue through the next day, featuring various sports competitions and concerts.