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Since 2008, there has been a substantial increase in the number of NATO combat flights over Latvian skies and near Latvian territorial waters, according to information from the Defense Ministry, reports LETA. Defense Ministry spokeswoman Sandra Brale said, in 2008, that NATO fighters only carried out one combat flight operation in Latvian airspace. Meanwhile, from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 of this year, already 37 such combat flights have been carried out over Latvian skies, which is the most since NATO began patrolling the Baltic skies in 2004. NATO carries out two types of flights over Baltic skies - regular patrol missions, as well as combat flights. Combat flights are carried out when information is received on possible threats, like, for example, and unidentified aircraft is seen on radar.
In early October in Dublin, Latvian Ambassador to Ireland Gints Apals met with representatives of the local Latvian community living in Ireland, where he urged them to be more civically active, reports LETA. The ambassador met with the Latvian community to inform them about current embassy affairs and discussed cooperation with Latvian community organizations, as well as Sunday schools for Latvian children. During the annual meeting, Apals also talked about cultural projects, including promoting Riga as the 2014 European Capital of Culture. In January, several exhibitions promoting Riga as the European Capital of Culture will be held in Ireland, as well as concerts by the Latvian trio of cellists Melo-M. On May 4 in Dublin’s Old Town, Latvian Culture Days will once again be held. The ambassador urged countrymen to remain civically active citizens, by participating in the European Parliament elections, Saeima elections, as well as local government elections in Ireland. He proposed the possibility of opening up polling stations outside of Dublin.
There is no doubt that the education sector in Latvia is need of radical changes, President Andris Berzins said in an interview with LNT television on Oct. 24, reports LETA. Bringing order to the education system is a future task for those intending to enter politics, said the president. Berzins believes that schools are a matter of regional development - people do not live in areas without schools. The president also has the impression that the Education and Science Ministry is no longer in charge of school processes. According to him, the chance of significant changes to the budget in the interest of teachers is slim. Moreover, there is no point in demanding a vision of 2015 and 2016 budgets from people who will most possibly not be responsible for them. Berzins believes that the 2014 budget bill is reasonable and in line with the financial situation in the country, but does not rule out that there still may be disputes during the review of the bill in the parliament.