Trauma surgeon Valdis Zatlers elected Latvia's president

Other News Materials 31 May 2007 15:05 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - The Latvian parliament elected Thursday former trauma surgeon Valdis Zatlers, 52, as the country's president, to replace Vaira Vike-Freiberga, whose presidency expires June 7.

Zatlers received 58 votes, while only 39 MPs in the 100-member Latvian parliament voted for his opponent, lawyer Aivars Endzins.

"I am honored to receive the confidence, and I promise that I will work in the interests of the entire Latvian nation," Zatlers said in an address to parliament.

The newly-elected president, whose candidacy had been proposed by the ruling center-right coalition, said in his work he would focus on internal policies, including consolidating Latvian society and improving living standards in the country.

Latvia is a country in Northern Europe, which shares borders with Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south - and both Russia and Belarus to the east.

A former Soviet republic, Latvia became an independent state in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has been a member of the European Union and NATO since 2004.