ERR in Riga: New Latvian Government Pledges Increase in Defense Spending ({{commentsTotal}})

Latvia unveiled a new Cabinet on the second day of work for its newly elected Parliament, with Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma promising a progressive tax-free minimum, cutting poverty risk of large families by a third, and increasing defense spending.

Unity (23 seats from 100), the National Alliance (17) and the Union of Greens and Farmers (21) signed a coalition agreement on Wednesday, ETV reported. The new government is forged on the lines of the previous government, with only six new faces out of 14 ministers.

“The main goals are economic growth, increasing the quality of life for families and every individual, and to increase security of the nation,” Straujuma said, adding that her Cabinet has enough ideas and strengths to lead the nation for the next four years.

Some experts have said the government is unlikely to last longer than the summer of 2015, when Latvia's term to hold the rotating presidency of the EU is completed.

Opposition forces said the coalition agreement is too hazy and there is little on what actual steps should be taken.

Straujuma said that defense spending must be increased to 2 percent of GDP in the next few years. The Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis added that the home guard Zemessardze, and Jaunsardze, its youth wing, must improve in strength.

The new government also said that secondary of vocational education should be mandatory, and by 2020, Latvia should have a positive population growth.