Latvia recalls military attaché over scandal

Latvia’s military attaché in Sweden, Major Normunds Bērzkalns, has been recalled and relieved of his duties, apparently over an incident in Stockholm involving a woman and the police, the newspaper Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze reported July 25.

The Ministry of Defense, Bērzkalns’ employer, has described the incident as a “personal matter” between the attaché and the woman, a Latvian citizen living and working in Stockholm, the newspaper reported.

Swedish police are pursuing charges against Bērzkalns, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Atis Lots told Latvians Online by telephone from Rīga.

The Bērzkalns affair is the latest scandal involving Latvian diplomats in recent months.

In June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs investigated a complaint about the alleged bad behavior of Māris Klišāns, Latvia’s ambassador to Norway. The Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Commission had recommended Klišāns’ removal after it received a letter from a representative of the Latvian Society in Norway, who complained about the ambassador’s use of alcohol and other unbecoming behavior during official events, according to news reports.

But after an inspection visit to Norway, the ministry concluded that the matter involved a personal dispute between the ambassador and the author of the letter.

“We had no basis to recall the ambassador,” Lots said.

Meanwhile, the ministry has taken no action in the case of Mark Anthony Sammut, Latvia’s honorary consul in Malta, who was arrested in April after airport security personnel found a loaded gun in his hand luggage as he was attempting to board a flight from Malta to Great Britain.

Lots said Maltese authorities still are investigating the incident. Until they reach a conclusion, the foreign ministry is taking no action.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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