Saying her health prevents her from participating in the political process, Latvia’s Minister of Culture Helēna Demakova has submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis.
Demakova has served as culture minister since 2004. She submitted her resignation Jan. 12.
A founding member of the People’s Party (Tautas partija), Demakova has tapped actor Juris Žagars to be her replacement. In a press release announcing her resignation, Demakova said her replacement “must be a person with a national and politically conservative presence,” but should also have authority in the cultural sector and experience in culture management. If party leaders agree, they would nominate Žagars to the prime minister.
Demakova has been diagnosed with a bone infection.
Demakova’s resignation came after President Valdis Zatlers criticized as “amoral” a decision to sign a LVL 6.77 million contract for design of a new concert hall at a time of government belt-tightening.
The contract was signed by the state agency Jaunie Trīs brāļi, part of the Ministry of Culture. Formed in 2005, the agency has been responsible for the planning, design and construction of the new Latvian National Library, the Rīga Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The same day Demakova handed in her resignation, the ministry also announced that the Jaunie Trīs brāļi agency will be liquidated and its functions given over to the Ministry of Finance.
Construction of the library, known as the “Gaismas pils” project, continues, but construction of the concert hall has been put off until at least 2011. The art museum is still being planned.
Work on the three projects is one of the achievements of her time in office, Demakova said in the press release. During her tenure, she said, the cultural sphere in Latvia has grown from an “orphan” and “beggar” to one that receives funding that is in keeping with being a European nation.
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