State of Affairs in Latvia: Fresh Government Adjusts Priorities
The first 100 days of the new Latvian government led by Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma have passed and the difficulties challenging the nation have altered.
Straujuma took office after the previous PM resigned after the Riga store roof collapse tragedy, and speaking Thursday after her 100th day in office, she said security has become the most pressing issue, ETV reported on Thursday.
The government has pledged to increase defense spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2020. That would be in line with Estonia and the minimum required by NATO membership. The current figure is only 0.9 percent. Straujuma recently said an extra 800,000 has been earmarked for the Zemessardze, the national guard.
The Latgale region, on the border with Russia, is also a concern, as the Ukraine crisis could further hit the economically weak area, and people could become discontent. An increase in pensions is penciled in for October but a planned salary increase for teachers will depend on economic growth.
The Bank of Latvia recently kept growth forecasts for the current year at 4 percent. Estonia has cut its previously predicted 2-3 percent growth projection by half.
Latvia is leading a project to create a Baltic-wide Russian-language TV station, to combat information from Russia.
Latvia will hold parliamentary elections in October this year.
Estonian prime minister Taavi Rõivas is in Latvia this morning to meet with Straujuma on security, and energy and transport links. They will also discuss the IT field and digital signatures.