Latvia. The coalition government led by Prime Minister
Andris Skele fell in April due to internal divisions
surrounding the privatization of state-owned enterprises.
Prime Minister Andris Skele of the People's Party, who
wanted to speed up the sale, dismissed Finance Minister
Vladimir Makarovs. Her party Fosterland and Freedom then
withdrew their support for Skele, who was forced to resign.
COUNTRYAAH, President Vaira Vīke-Freiberga appointed Riga's mayor
Andris Berzins as new government leader. In May, he was able
to present a four-party coalition with his own party
Latvia's Road and the parties Fosterland and Freedom, the
People's Party and the New Party.
The conflict over privatization policy followed into the
new government. The motherland and freedom as well as the
New Party voted with the opposition and prevented the sale
of the state's energy company Latvenergo. At the same time
as privatization stalled, however, the economy showed good
For much of the year, the political establishment was
pursued by a spectacular public debate around a pedophile
heritage. In February, MP Janis Adamsons accused then-Prime
Minister Andris Skele and Justice Minister Valdis Birkavs of
being involved in the scandal. Both denied the allegations,
and the Justice Minister hungered to speed up the
investigation of the charges.
The prosecutor's investigation showed after six months
that Adamson's claims were unfounded. The state prosecutor
wanted to indict Adamson for slander and abuse of power, but
a majority in Parliament voted against revoking his
Latvia's tense relations with the Russian Federation were
further strained at the beginning of the year when they were
served in the first war criminal trial in free Latvia. A
77-year-old Russian and former anti-Nazi adversary was
sentenced to six years in prison for the murder of civilians
in 1944. But during the year worked Latvian authorities also
obtained an extradition from Australia of a Latvian-born
man, who was accused of assisting the Nazis in the
extermination of Jews in Latvia in the early 1940s.
During the year, Russian President Putin repeated his
representative's warnings against NATO's plans to
incorporate the three Baltic countries as members. The
Latvian president reacted in October to two Swedish
generals' statements that Baltic NATO membership would
adversely affect Sweden's security. The Swedish Commander in
Chief distanced himself from the statement.
In the fall, Latvian authorities received warnings from
the Russian security service that members of a right-wing
Russian movement, the National Bolsheviks, planned
provocations in Latvia. In November, several of the movement's
members, who had entered the country illegally, were
In March 2004, Latvia joined NATO. And on May 1, the
country, along with 9 other Eastern and Central European
countries, was admitted to the EU.
In October, Indulis Emsis' coalition government fell when
its fiscal bill was voted down by 53 votes to 30. Emsis
therefore had to file its resignation request. In late
November, Vīke-Freiberga appointed Aigars Kalvitis as new
Prime Minister. A few days later, Parliament reaffirmed
Kalvitis' new government with 75 votes to 23.
In May 2005, US President George W. Bush visited Riga.
That same month, President Freiberga was the only
representative of the Baltic countries in the Russian naval
parade in Moscow. In June, Parliament ratified the new EU
constitution by 71 votes to 11. The ratification took place
a few days after the constitution was dropped by referendums
in France and the Netherlands. Despite the defeats in these
two countries, Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks declared that
the European constitution was not dead. In October, the
Interior Minister resigned after disagreement with the
government about the appropriations for police. In December,
it was the defense minister - and former prime minister -
Repše's turn to resign, in the midst of an extensive
investigation of his personal business activities.
In July 2007 Parliament elected Valdis Zatler as the
country's new president. Zatler was supported by the
government coalition, which consists of 4 center-right
parties. In December, Ivars Godmanis was appointed by the
president as the country's new prime minister. He is
chairman of the Party of Latvia's Road. He had been Minister
of the Interior since November 2006.