New Prime Minister calls for stability in first address

  • 2014-01-07
  • From wire reports, RIGA

Laimdota Straujuma has called for the new government to ensure stability in Latvia (photo

Latvia's first ever female Prime Minister has outlined her plans for the next term.

Laimdota Straujuma, a former agriculture minister, was appointed PM by President Andris Berzins after weeks of talks. She replaces Valdis Dombrovskis who stepped down following the Maxima supermarket roof collapse that killed 54 people last year.

Speaking to reporters, the new PM said: "The government should continue the same macroeconomic policy which has been implemented so far," the Reuters news agency quotes.

The next government will have to ensure stability, added Straujuma.

"One of the key priorities, that is "of major importance for businessmen and society", is preparing a program on absorption of European Union funds for Latvia. The European Commission should approve the program by mid-2014 so absorption of the funds could begin in the second half of the year," emphasized Straujuma.

Another matter of key importance is the investigation of the Zolitude tragedy, the PM outlined. Construction  and rescue operations reguations need to be revised as a result.

Straujuma, who holds a doctorate in economics, also touched on issues of education, as well as reducing social inequality.

By Tuesday evening, members of the pending coalition must nominate their candidates to task forces that will work on the new government's declaration; the delegates will meet on Wednesday to reach agreement on the main tasks for the next government, said Straujuma.

She added that new coalition partners had different opinions on several issues including residence permits, making Latvian the only instruction language in all schools and  the preamble to the Constitution.

On Jan. 8, coalition partners will begin talks on what matters may be solved through consultations and what matters should be postponed until after the Saeima elections, said Straujuma.

It currently appears that the next ruling coalition will be made up of the current government parties - Unity, All For Latvia-For Fatherland And Freedom/LNNK, the Reform Party and the group of independent MPs, as well as the Union of Greens and Farmers, currently an opposition party. All these parties have expressed support for Straujuma as the next prime minister.

Saeima is to confirm the new government in two to three weeks.