Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com MOST TOPICAL NEWS FROM LATVIA, LITHUANIA, ESTONIA Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:16:13 +0000 en hourly 1 Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/poland-hopes-turkey-would-join-eu-173284 http://bnn-news.com/poland-hopes-turkey-would-join-eu-173284#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:14:14 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173284

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Polish President Andrzej Duda (R) shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Polish President Andrzej Duda, meeting his Turkish counterpart shortly before an European Union-Turkey summit, has expressed a hope that the country located at the cross-roads between Europe and the Middle East would join the EU some time.

 

«Poland has supported and today supports Turkey’s EU accession efforts. (..)I hope Turkey and the EU will continue on the same path … leading to a full membership for Turkey,» Duda stated during a press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Warsaw.

 

Reuters news agency reported that Turkey’s 12-year-long accession talks, already slowed down by arguments on a range of topics, have stopped in progress since the summer of 2016, when Ankara launched a post-coup crackdown, resulting in more than 50,000 people being jailed pending trial and some 150,000, including judges, journalists and soldiers, have been dismissed or temporarily suspended from their jobs.

 

The Turkish President stated in the press conference that the EU should announce the end of talks if it does not actually want to accept Turkey, repeating his criticism of the EU’s accession policy.

Ref: 111.111.111.5094

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/number-of-people-at-risk-of-poverty-in-baltics-in-higher-than-the-average-in-eu-173280 http://bnn-news.com/number-of-people-at-risk-of-poverty-in-baltics-in-higher-than-the-average-in-eu-173280#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:20:29 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173280

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe ratio of people subjected to poverty or social exclusion risk in Baltic States is higher than the average in the European Union, according to Eurostat data compiled for 26 out of 28 member states in 2016.

According to this data, 28.5% of Latvia’s residents (550,000 people) are subjected to the risk of poverty or social exclusion. In Estonia, this proportion is 24.4% (320,000), whereas this proportion in Lithuania is 30.1% of residents (870,000).

In the EU, on the other hand, the average index for residents subjected to poverty or social exclusion risk is 23.4 or 117 million residents.

The proportion of people subjected to poverty or social exclusion risk is the highest in Bulgaria (40.4%), Romania (38.8%) and Greece (35.6%), as well as Croatia (28.5%), Spain (27.9%), Cyprus (27.7%), Hungary (26.3%) and Portugal (25.1%).

The proportion of people subjected to poverty or social exclusion risk is lower than the average in the EU in Britain (22.2%), Poland (21.9%), Belgium (20.17%), Malta (20.1%), Luxembourg and Germany (19.7% in both), Slovenia (18.4%), Sweden (18.3%), France (18.2%), Slovakia (18.1%), Austria (18%), Netherlands (16.8%), Denmark (16.7%), Finland (16.6%) and Czech Republic (13.3%).

Information is not available for Italy and Ireland.

Among the people subjected to poverty or social exclusion are those who fit at least one of the following criteria: poverty, poor economic state and low labour work intensity in the household – people living in the household and under the age of 59 had worked 20% less than their potential work time in the past year.

Material deprivation level is determined based on nine factors – the ability to handle unexpected costs, pay for a week-long vacation away from home, cover bills and debts, eat a meal every other day consisting of meat and fish or their vegetarian counterpart, financially support their home’s heating, have enough finances to afford a washing machine, television set, phone and car. If a person cannot afford at least four of those nine things, the person’s living conditions are to be defined as poverty.

In accordance with Eurostat methodology, people are considered subjected to poverty risk if they live in a household whose income is below the poverty threshold, which is set at 60% of the average income in a country.

Ref: 225.109.109.5251

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/e-voting-defended-in-estonia-after-criticism-from-party-leader-173278 http://bnn-news.com/e-voting-defended-in-estonia-after-criticism-from-party-leader-173278#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:56:44 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173278
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Chairman of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia Mart Helme

Responding to claims from a leader of an Estonian political party that the country’s e-voting system lacks transparency, the head of e-Government Academy’s e-democracy department explained it was possible that the voters of one party are more active e-voters than supporters of other parties.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the chairman of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia Mart Helme evaluated on Sunday, October 15: «I can’t take it seriously if one party wins almost half of the electronic vote. Something definitely smells fishy here».

Lia Hänni, head e-Government Academy’s e-democracy department, argued in case a party’s public opinion that e-voting cannot be trusted, then their voters not using the system less compared to other parties can be expected.

Priit Vinkel, the head of the Estonian State Election Service, added: «All votes that make it to our servers are checked in such a way that we can assert mathematically that those same votes are actually counted as well, that nobody has added something, or taken something away».

Ref: 111.111.111.5085

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/residents-mood-worsens-people-become-more-critical-about-their-finances-173275 http://bnn-news.com/residents-mood-worsens-people-become-more-critical-about-their-finances-173275#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:20:56 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173275

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOver the course of the past month, residents’ general mood has worsened significantly – declines have been noted on all positions analysed by the survey. Residents were critical the most in the survey about their material state – the index in this category declined from -9 to -11, according to the latest Baltic International Bank Latvian Barometer.

With appropriately autumn-like weather residents’ general mood also became drearier – all categories covered by the barometer (general situation, economy, family’s material state, chances of finding work and government work) suffered a decline of three points.

When it comes to their family’s financial state, only 17% of respondents were optimistic in their responses. 15% of respondents responded negatively, adding that they have no expectations for the situation to improve in the future. Predictions for changes of the family’s financial state have suffered a more serious dip over the course of the month – one month ago it was four points higher.

Barometer results show that the smallest changes have been noted for the development of the assessment of the general situation and economic state – each position declined by one index point. Looking at the possible development of the current situation, 25% of respondents said it is developing in the wrong direction.

When asked to evaluate work performed by the government, 77% of respondents said they are dissatisfied. This category is currently at the bottom when it comes to society’s given score (-43 points).

People are also rather negative when it comes to the labour market – 61% of respondents believe it is not possible to find a good job in Latvia. The general assessment of the state of Latvia’s economy has also declined (-22 in July and -25 in August). The index regarding residents’ predictions for the future has also declined (from 0 to -3).

Ref: 225.109.109.4141

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/antane-saeima-s-national-economy-committee-has-heard-the-transit-industry-s-cry-173272 http://bnn-news.com/antane-saeima-s-national-economy-committee-has-heard-the-transit-industry-s-cry-173272#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:35:55 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173272

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUInga Antāne, president of Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics, is satisfied with the decision that was made at the recent meeting of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee, asking the Transport Ministry to develop and present a sustainable development strategy for the industry and putting an emphasis on raising the competitiveness of railway tariffs.

«Transport Ministry’s and Latvijas Dzelzceļš’s act that everything is fine in the transit industry has become very dangerous for Latvia’s national economy. An analysis of statistical indexes for the past three years, the volume of cargoes handled by Latvian ports has been declining sharply. On top of that, there are no signs that would suggest the situation may improve in the near future,» notes BATL president.

Continuing, she adds: «To avert a crisis in the transit industry, Transport Ministry and the government should act now and make decisions that would improve the industry’s competitiveness, otherwise consequences caused by a crisis would have a negative impact on the national economy as a whole, as well as budget revenue and residents’ welfare. The meeting of the Saeima committee proves that the industry’s cry has finally been heard.»

BATL notes that the size of the fee for railway infrastructure use has earned a great degree of criticism. This is because the fee forms 70-75% of the end price, limiting carriers’ options to offer clients competitive prices. A country’s transit corridor’s efficiency depends on the country’s long-term policy. In its current form, it is hard to call it successful, because there is a lack of a unified policy that would fit the real situation.

The association also presented the Saeima committee with its proposed action plan to help raising the industry’s competitiveness.

BATL has also asked the committee to consider the actual situation in the industry, not the volatile «relatively small cargo volume increase». If the government does not make important decisions and start acting fast, it is likely it will be necessary to reconsider budget expectations and consider new social support programmes for people working in the industry.

«It is foolish to think that a worsened situation in the industry will not create serious problems for Latvia’s economy. Latvia is a railway superpower – we are a leader in Europe when it comes to railway length per capita. For Latvijas Dzelzceļš to afford such an infrastructure, it is necessary to carry 60 million tonnes of cargoes every year. According to our estimates, we are already 15 -25 million tonnes short. We also expect this gap to grow even more in the coming years,» says Antāne.

BATL president also notes that «this is why the government should consider coming up with more competitive tariffs and analyse if different mega-investment projects, such as the electrification project, leave an impact on tariffs. EC report on tariff competitiveness released several years ago pointed to problems with Latvia’s tariffs.»

BATL had previously reported submitting its action plan to the prime minister, transport minister, economy minister, finance minister and the council of Latvijas dzelzceļš earlier in September. This was done because the talks with Transport Ministry had reached a dead end. The association, having assessed the situation on the market and the region, cannot agree with the ministry’s opinion that the situation is stable and that there is no need to perform any additional steps to save it.

«For years now Transport Ministry continues acting unknowing of the problems present in the industry and become involved in political and inter-governmental activities, as it is done in neighbouring countries. Incompetent and ruinous decisions, formal responses, lack of communication with the industry has led to a situation when Latvia’s second largest industry, which contributes a considerable amount to the GDP and employs tens of thousands of people, is on a brink of a crisis,» BATL previously said.

BATL also allows that documents prepared on a government level were prepared chaotically and based on outdated and far too optimistic analysis of the situation in the industry. On top of that, the industry is governed by unfair competition conditions for different ports, and there is a lack of political desire to sort the industry and turn down, at least temporarily, different risky and unreasonable investment projects. It is also necessary to improve participation of government and high-rank officials in the attraction of new strategic partners, not merely take part in different ‘red ribbon’ events.

Ref: 225.109.109.2441

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/october-17-in-pictures-2-173240 http://bnn-news.com/october-17-in-pictures-2-173240#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:51:08 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173240

BNN offers you to take a look at topical, interesting and simply beautiful pictures of the day.

Anyone can participate in the creation of our Galleries of the Day! Send your photos to our e-mail redakcija@bnn.lv, with «Pictures of the Day» as the topic.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/latvian-s-attitude-towards-combating-cancer-in-late-stages-seems-irresponsible-173267 http://bnn-news.com/latvian-s-attitude-towards-combating-cancer-in-late-stages-seems-irresponsible-173267#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:15:12 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173267

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe attitude towards combating cancer in late stages in Latvia remains very low, says former healthcare minister of Latvia Ingrīda Circene.

She says the number of cancer cases in Latvia is enormous. Every year approximately 11,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in the country. The most common form of cancer among women aged 35-64 is breast cancer. This diagnosis is one of the main causes of death in the aforementioned age group, Circene said.

«Unfortunately, people’s own attitude towards their health plays a major role in all this, and people in Latvia are rather irresponsible. For example, only 30% of women respond to invitations to undergo state-funded cancer screenings. Attitude towards the option to reduce serious diseases in late stages, when medical assistance is often ineffective, is also low. Around 35% of all breast cancer cases are diagnosed in 3rd or 4th stage in Latvia.»

Circene reminds that breast cancer is hard to spot in its early stages, because symptoms are practically non-existent. This is why breast cancer control should be performed in advance and before complaints first appear. ‘Unfortunately, breast cancer-wise Latvia is 3rd from the end among OECD member states – we are only ahead of Chile and Mexico,’ says the doctor.

The point of cancer screening is diagnosing health changes as soon as possible. By the time women discover cancer by accident, the tumour will have reached a size of 3-3.5 cm. But if women regularly undergo breast cancer screenings, tumours are usually discovered when they are around 2 cm. To diagnose breast cancer earlier than that, women should undergo mammography. Mammography can uncover tumours when they are around 1.5 cm in size.

Circene also reminds that each woman should follow several important health principles. It is worth starting undergoing regular breast cancer screenings from the age 20 – at least once a month. If any cancer tissue is found through screening, it is important to seek professional assistance, the doctor advises.

She says that women aged 35-40 should undergo mammography for the first time. At the age of 40-50, it is worth undergoing mammography every other year. «I urge women to not ignore invitations sent by the National Health Service to undergo state-funded mammography. This service is organized and financed by the state for women aged 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68.»

Women diagnosed with breast cancer, Circene invites to be responsible towards the treatment process and follow instructions provided by their doctor, as well as actively use assistance, including psychological assistance, offered by non-governmental organizations.

Ref: 224.109.109.5400

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/hydrogen-powered-transport-technology-a-reality-in-latvia-173237 http://bnn-news.com/hydrogen-powered-transport-technology-a-reality-in-latvia-173237#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 10:00:09 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173237

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThere are plans to establish a hydrogen refuelling station in Riga before the end of 2017. A publicly available H2 refuelling station in Riga would secure an inter-state network of hydrogen refuelling stations: the closest other station will be established in Pernava, says Association Zero Emission Mobility Support chairman Arnis Bergs.

He continues: «A public H2 refuelling station in Riga, Vienības gatvē 6, next to the 2nd trolleybus park will create an opportunity to start using hydrogen-powered cars in Latvia.»

Testing of the H2 refuelling station will be presented at the e-mobility stand of the Environment and Energy 2017 expo, which will be taking place at Kipsala Hall throughout 19th – 22nd October, said Bergs. Toyota Mirai will be used for testing. With a full tank, the car can cover 500 km in five minutes.

It is noted that H2 refuelling station’s construction will be performed as part of H2Nodes project. It will be available for public transports and public use.

Rīgas satiksme acts as H2Nodes project’s coordinator. This project will be realized in Riga, Pernava and Arnhem.

Ref: 225.109.109.2562

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/estonian-ministry-to-collect-270-000-euros-from-it-company-over-failure-to-build-information-system-173234 http://bnn-news.com/estonian-ministry-to-collect-270-000-euros-from-it-company-over-failure-to-build-information-system-173234#comments Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:48:40 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173234

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Tieto Estonia, the Estonian branch of Finnish IT firm group Tieto will compensate the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs 270,000 euros for the failure of the SKAIS2 project, the aim of which was the development of a new information system for the Estonian social insurance authority, but was deemed a failure in August.

«The implementation of the SKAIS2 project has been difficult, and it makes sense to end the cooperation on the current basis. As a result of intense negotiations, we have arrived at an outcome that allows us to do it,» stated Ain Aaviksoo, deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs charged with development of e-services and innovation.

When the compromise comes into effect, Tieto Estonia will have paid the ministry 450,000 euros as on top of the 270,000 euros negotiated now, Tieto also paid 180,000 euros late in 2016.

Building of the new information system started in collaboration between IT companies Tieto and Icefire in 2014, but from the end of 2015, the developer has been Tieto Estonia.

Ref: 111.111.111.5091

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/latvia-invites-iran-to-act-constructively-to-ensure-security-173231 http://bnn-news.com/latvia-invites-iran-to-act-constructively-to-ensure-security-173231#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:13:59 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173231

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs participated in a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, where he discussed about the role of Iran in the region and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in light of the upcoming report from US President Donald Trump to the Congress on Iran’s progress realizing the plan.

The minister welcomed Iran’s continued cooperation with IAEA in the realization of JCPOA. IAEA’s reports state that Iran responsibly complies with its commitment to limit its nuclear programme. With that, Latvia expects JCPOA to remain in force. Preservation of JCPOA is important for non-distribution process of nuclear weapons. Considering the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, there is a need for continued and constructive participation of all sides in realization of JCPOA.

«Latvia invites Iran to demonstrate constructive action towards regional stability and security. In the context of political uncertainty, it is important to refrain from actions that may result in termination of this agreement,» said Rinkēvičs.

Ministers present at the meeting also discussed the situation with the rule of law and compliance with basic human rights in Turkey and its own role in the region.

At the same time, Rinkēvičs also pointed attention towards Turkey’s role in NATO. He also welcomed EU-Turkey cooperation in the agreement regarding migration.

«EU-Turkey cooperation talks should be continued, because it is a platform that can help resolve many matters, including compliance with human rights, rule of law and democratic standards, emphasized the Latvian foreign affairs minister.

Ministers also discussed the realization of the EU human rights policy and effective use of existing instruments. Rinkēvičs expressed support for accomplishments made by EU Special Envoy in improving EU human rights policy. The minister also pointed towards the troubling situation with human rights in Crimea, especially the discrimination of Crimean Tatars.

Ref: 225.109.109.4240

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/vigil-held-in-malta-over-killing-of-investigative-journalist-173228 http://bnn-news.com/vigil-held-in-malta-over-killing-of-investigative-journalist-173228#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:15:44 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173228
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Several thousand people in Malta have taken part in a vigil held after news broke of the killing of an investigative journalist, who blamed Maltese government for corruption.

British public broadcaster BBC reports, citing local police, that Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was killed when the car she was driving exploded shortly after she left her home in Bidnija, Malta.

The Prime Minister of the Mediterranean country, Joseph Muscat denounced the killing: «I condemn without reservations this barbaric attack on a person and on the freedom of expression in our country».

Earlier in 2017 Caruana Galizia alleged that Muscat and his wife are linked to the Panama Papers scandal, which prompted the Maltese Prime Minister to call an early election, which was won by Muscat’s Labour Party.

Ref: 111.111.111.5090

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/american-exchange-indexes-reach-record-high-values-oil-prices-on-the-rise-173225 http://bnn-news.com/american-exchange-indexes-reach-record-high-values-oil-prices-on-the-rise-173225#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 07:55:28 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173225

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIn response to price rise of bank stocks, three leading indexes of US exchanges reached new record heights on Monday, 16 October. In addition, US Federal Reserve System manager Janet Yellen’s prediction regarding a soon inflation rise has increased confidence that base interest rate will increase in December.

Stocks prices of leading banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, grew by approximately 2%. Yellen’s prediction also enhanced US dollar’s value before other currencies.

Euro value may decline more «in the unlikely event Catalonia is allowed to go independent, as this outcome is probably not priced in the markets,» said Forex.com analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

«Otherwise, the single currency generally looks strong, owing to improvement in economic conditions across the eurozone, including Spain,» he added.

At the same time, oil price grew at New York and London exchange.

Euro value before US dollar declined, British pound sterling value before US dollar declined, whereas US dollar value before Japanese yen increased.

New York exchange’s WTI brand crude oil price for November supplies grew by USD 0.42 to 51.87 USD/barrel on Monday. London exchange’s Brent brand crude oil price for December supplies grew by 0.65 USD to 57.82 USD/barrel.

Dow Jones Industrial Average index grew 0.3% on Monday, reaching 22,956.96 points. Standard & Poor’s 500 index grew 0.2% – to 2,557.64, whereas Nasdaq Composite index grew 0.3% – to 6,624.00 points.

London exchange’s FTSE 100 index declined 0.1% on Monday, dropping to 7,526.97 points; Frankfurt exchange’s DAX 30 index grew 0.1%, reaching 13,003.70 points, whereas Paris exchange’s CAC 40 index grew 0.2% – to 5,362.88 points. Madrid exchange IBEX 35 index declined 0.8% – to 10,181.4 points.

Euro value before US dollar on Monday declined from 1.1822 to 1.1796 USD/EUR, British pound sterling value before US dollar declined from 1.3291 to 1.3252 USD/GBP, whereas US dollar value before Japanese yen grew from 111.86 to 112.21 USD/JPY.

Ref: 225.109.109.4356

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/54-14-more-alcohol-exported-from-latvia-most-of-it-to-russia-173222 http://bnn-news.com/54-14-more-alcohol-exported-from-latvia-most-of-it-to-russia-173222#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 06:52:06 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173222

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIn the first eight months of 2017, a total of 102.259 million litres of alcoholic drinks was exported from Latvia, which is 54.14% more when compared with the same period of last year.

89.2% of this volume was exported mostly to Russia. 10.8% was exported to European Union member states, according to excise tax circulation indexes compiled by Latvian State Revenue Service.

Exports of alcoholic drinks from Latvia grew 64.11% in the first eight months of 2017. 91.9 million litres of alcohol was exported from Latvia in the first nine months of 2017, as opposed to 55.57 million litres in 2016.

11.07 million litres of alcoholic drinks was exported to EU member states, which is 2.74% more than 2016, when 10.77 million litres was exported.

Aside from beer, 29.91 million litres of alcoholic drinks was produced in Latvia in the first eight months of 2017. Compared with the first seven months of 2016, 0.76% less alcoholic drinks were produced this year.

Ref: 224.109.109.5222

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/in-pictures-ireland-hit-by-worst-storm-in-50-years-173219 http://bnn-news.com/in-pictures-ireland-hit-by-worst-storm-in-50-years-173219#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 06:42:51 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173219

Three people have been killed in Ireland in the storm Ophelia, which cut off electricity networks to 120 000 homes and businesses in the country.

According to British news portal the Guardian, gusts of wind in Ireland on Monday, October 16, had reached the speed of 44 metres per second.

The three victims have died under fallen trees.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has stated that Ophelia has been the worst storm in the last 50 years, which also forcing to close education institutions.

Ref: 111.111.111.5085

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/tragic-wildfires-in-portugal-and-spain-173164 http://bnn-news.com/tragic-wildfires-in-portugal-and-spain-173164#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:49:13 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173164

No less than 30 people have died in wildfires in Portugal and Spain.

British-Canadian news agency Reuters reports that in the evening of Monday, October 16, a total of 145 fires were raging in Portugal and another 100 – in Spain.

Authorities in both southern European states have said that many fires have been caused by arsonists and fanned by the strong winds from storm Ophelia.

Ref: 111.111.111.5085

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/aseradens-to-leave-latvian-government-at-the-end-of-november-173161 http://bnn-news.com/aseradens-to-leave-latvian-government-at-the-end-of-november-173161#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:35:25 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173161

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens intends to leave the government after approval of the 2018 budget in the Saeima, which is scheduled for the end of November, as confirmed by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

It is planned to perform the first viewing of the state budget and accompanying documents on 25 and 26 October. The second reading is scheduled for 22 and 23 November.

Kučinskis says this agreement was reached with Ašeradens this morning. He also added that the coalition supports this proposal.

According to the prime minister, approval of the next year’s budget is this year’s ‘main event’. Also the government has a number of other matters on its agenda, such as providing a response to Telia about LMT and Lattelecom, the future of Liepājas Metalurgs and Inčukalns underground gas storage facility.

Ašeradens told journalists that the coalition supported Unity’s proposed economy minister candidates and will coordinate approval of the new minister in accordance with proper procedures.

It is planned that Unity’s board will decide on the candidate this evening. The candidate will then be sent for approval to coalition partners.

According to unofficial information, among the potential candidates are Riga City Council deputy Vilnis Ķirsis, Foreign Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica and Welfare Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Karina Ploka.

On Monday, 16 October, Kučinskis told LTV that in his last conversation with Unity leader and Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens the two discussed this matter. The two agreed that following Unity’s decision, assessments regarding specific candidates will not be provided. Ašeradens promised a decision from the board of Unity would come on Monday. He also added that there is not 100% guarantee that an appropriate candidate would be found by then.

Ref: 224.109.109.1441

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/islamic-extremists-blamed-for-tragic-terrorist-attack-in-somalia-173158 http://bnn-news.com/islamic-extremists-blamed-for-tragic-terrorist-attack-in-somalia-173158#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:08:03 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173158
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Somali government forces and civilians gather at the scene of an explosion in KM4 street in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia

The death-toll in a tragic terror attack in the eastern African state of Somalia has reached 320 people and local authorities have stated that a key member of the cell that allegedly launched the attack on Mogadishu has told them that al-Shabaab was responsible for the crime.

British news portal the Guardian reports that hundreds more people were injured on Saturday, October 14, when a lorry loaded with explosives was blown up in the Somali capital.

«This is the Somali 9/11. The man we arrested has confessed. He is proud of what he has done. He says it was for jihad,» one local official was cited as saying.

Earlier in 2017, Al-Shabaab, which is an Islamist extremist group, vowed to increase its attacks after Somalia’s recently elected President announced new military efforts against the group, but it has not claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/rigas-namu-parvaldnieks-gets-new-management-173154 http://bnn-news.com/rigas-namu-parvaldnieks-gets-new-management-173154#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:05:32 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173154

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFrom now on Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks will have a new chairman: once the head of Latio Namsaimnieks has been appointed as the new head of the company. The other vacant post has been given to Ardis Pāvilsons.

Gontarevs will replace the current head – Ivo Lecis – as the new chairman of Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks.

According to the city council, Gontarevs has higher education in real estate management and assessment. He has two Master degrees – in law and business management. Until now, he worked was chairman of Latio Namsaimnieks. In the past he also worked as the chairman’s advisor in matters of development of strategic services in Latio and board member in Topo7 and Metrum, where he worked as a lawyer.

Pāvilsons has been working in real estate management since 2007. He was a board member at CS Komercserviss and Labo namu aģentūra, manager of apartment homes department in Civinity Latvian Group companies and apartment house management office of Hausmaster.

Both newly-elected RNP board members confirmed their intention to leave their posts in other companies.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/catalonia-misses-ultimatum-deadline-spanish-government-vows-to-act-after-thursday-173152 http://bnn-news.com/catalonia-misses-ultimatum-deadline-spanish-government-vows-to-act-after-thursday-173152#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:02:55 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173152
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont

The separatist Spainish region of Catalonia has missed the deadline to clarify, if it has declared independence and Madrid has received a letter from the President of the autonomous region, which still needs analysis.

British-Canadian news agency Reuters reports that Madrid had given Puigdemont until Monday, October 16, ten o’clock in the morning, to explain his position on independence with a «Yes» or «No», and until Thursday, 19, to change his mind if he insisted on a split – saying Madrid would suspend Catalonia’s autonomy if he chose secession.

Spainish Justice Minister Rafael Catala stated on Monday that the response Puigdemont had given in a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was not clear, the government was analyzing the letter and would take steps once the Thursday deadline has passed.

In his letter, Puigdemont wrote that he and the Spanish Primie Minister Mariano Rajoy should meet as soon as possible to start a dialogue: «Our offer for dialogue is sincere and honest. During the next two months, our main objective is to have this dialogue and that all international, Spanish and Catalan institutions and personalities that have expressed the willingness to open a way for dialogue can explore it»..

Ref: 111.111.111.5085

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/what-will-be-the-consequences-for-companies-that-cheated-with-electricity-production-permits-173146 http://bnn-news.com/what-will-be-the-consequences-for-companies-that-cheated-with-electricity-production-permits-173146#comments Mon, 16 Oct 2017 13:20:03 +0000 BNN / LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173146

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBusinesses that were caught using fake permits for electricity production in mandatory procurements will not have their permits extended, says Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

The minister says the matter regarding mandatory procurement component is a fundamental problem. «MPC system was formed in such a way that its introduction was not monitored. On top of that, all kinds of surprises appeared later down the line. This is why I have ordered Construction State Control Office to ask construction supervisors to voice their position on supervision of those objects and check their function. An administrative base has been formed and BVKB inspectors have performed inspections at two or three stations,» said the minister.

During the planned week of inspection, it is planned to visit the following companies: SIA Briedis būve, SIA Madonas Eko, SIA Tektus, SIA M parks, SIA E Strenči, SIA E Seda, SIA Elektro rīdzene, and SIA Rīgas enerģija.

The minister allows that these companies have yet to commence energy production. «It is clear that they have yet to commence energy production. If a container is rented and carried to an open field after being taken to other fields, it cannot be qualified as start of production,» says Ašeradens.

He explains that to receive a permit for production of electricity within mandatory production, companies have to complete two conditions – commence production of electricity and only then receive support. «However, we have found that production has yet to commence. This is why I have ordered inspections at all stations in which violations have been discovered so far to check the actual situation and decide what should be done. One thing is clear – permit will not be extended,» said the minister.

The situation with Rīgas enerģija, according to the minister, is «much more complicated».

«Unlike the situation with the aforementioned companies, a diesel generator was brought here. It has been connected to the system and named a functioning station. I talked with Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis today. An application to law enforcement institutions will be written in association with this situation. It is clear there is no relation to the object’s commissioning,» admits Ašeradens.

On Sunday, 15 October, Latvian economy minister contacted the management of Latvenergo. According to available information, certain Sadales tīkls officials have been dismissed.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/october-16-in-pictures-173112 http://bnn-news.com/october-16-in-pictures-173112#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:44:05 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173112

BNN offers you to take a look at topical, interesting and simply beautiful pictures of the day.

Anyone can participate in the creation of our Galleries of the Day! Send your photos to our e-mail redakcija@bnn.lv, with «Pictures of the Day» as the topic.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/daylight-saving-time-history-and-what-it-means-for-industries-173141 http://bnn-news.com/daylight-saving-time-history-and-what-it-means-for-industries-173141#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:35:01 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173141

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvia and many other countries around the world will transition from daylight saving time on 29 October. All clocks will be switched one hour back.

In Latvia, the transition will be carried out at 04:00 on Sunday, 29 October. The transition back to daylight saving time will be carried out on 25 March 2018.

History

The idea for daylight saving time appeared for the first time at the end of the 18th century. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin, who was then the US envoy in France, wrote an essay An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light, which he then sent to his friend who worked as an editor at Journal of Paris. The idea for the transition to daylight saving time appeared in Franklin’s mind when he was suddenly awoken by a loud noise at six o’clock in the morning.

When he woke up, Franklin was surprised to see bright light illuminating the room. A simple mathematical calculation helped Franklin calculate how much money Parisians spent by going to bed at midnight and waking in the afternoon and burning candles and oil lamps.

A century passed after Benjamin Franklin’s initial idea. In 1907 English builder William Willet mentioned DST again. Willet proposed switching the clock 80 minutes forward and by 20 minutes on every Sunday in April and doing the same in September, only the other way around. Willet’s proposal was ultimately rejected, but in 1916 the British parliament approved the law in accordance with which clocks were to be switched one hour forward to Greenwich Time in summer.

Daylight saving time was used for the first time by Germany, Britain, Ireland and France at the beginning of WWI. Its initial goal was saving energy.

During WWII, England introduced so-called Double Summer Time, which differed from Greenwich Time by two hours.

USA approved the law on transition to daylight summer time in 1918 to save resources for participation in WWI. This law remained in force for seven months between 1918 and 1919 because it was unpopular among Americans.

DST in Latvia

Information from the Latvian National Archive details that transition to DST in Latvia dates back to 1919 and 1920. Regular transition to DST among EU member states was introduced in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, but the transition schedule differed from country to country. A similar situation was noted in Latvia, when the Soviet Union joined other countries around the world on 1 April 1981 and adopted regular transition to DST.

In Latvia, this transition was introduced for the first time in 1981. From 1997, DST is in force from the last Sunday of March until the last Sunday of October.

What do Latvian residents think about DST?

In March 2014, Latvian Economy Ministry performed an internet survey, asking residents to voice their opinions about the practice of transitioning to and from DST. A total of 6,244 respondents had participated in the survey. 4,917 of them voiced their dissatisfaction with this practice. Representatives of business organizations, NGOs, state and municipal institutions voiced their opinions on the effect of DST on different sectors.

Results of the survey showed contrasting opinions about the pros and cons among different group and sectors. Disruption of natural biorhythms was mentioned as one of the most serious problem that affects and individual’s ability to work. Some of the most often mentioned benefits included longer evenings and saving energy.

Agricultural activities are seasonal and the time one can use efficiently for work is very important. During the summer season, especially in heat waves, agriculture workers can start working early, when air temperature is relatively lower than it is during the day. DST does, however, have a somewhat negative effect on poultry and dairy industry. No real changes are noted for plant production.

In the energy sector, transition to daylight sunlight time helps save energy. Although individually private persons feel the difference in their bills, the overall difference in the country is negligible.

For construction industry, DST has a positive effect – considering the relatively short construction season in Latvia, transition to DST has a positive effect on productivity and allows organization of work in two shifts. At the same time, businessmen note that cancelling transition to DST would increase construction costs.

Healthcare specialists say more daylight in the afternoon improves psychological and physiological health – D vitamin synthesis, and longer evening hours increase the opportunity for residents to spend time doing outdoor physical activities. At the same time, it is noted that DST does cause sleep problems, which can, in turn, have negative impact on attention. The switch affects people with psychological disorders more than others.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/latvian-tourist-accommodation-facilities-experience-increase-of-overnight-guests-173111 http://bnn-news.com/latvian-tourist-accommodation-facilities-experience-increase-of-overnight-guests-173111#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:35:29 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173111

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe number of nights tourists and other guests spent in Latvian hotels and other tourist accommodation facilities in the first eight months of 2018 has grown 12.2% in comparison with the same period of last year, reaching 3.524 million.

The number of nights spent in Latvian hotels and other accommodation facilities by foreign tourists has grown 11.4% in comparison with 2016, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

In total, Latvian tourist accommodation facilities have services 1.819 million guests in the first eight months of 2017. This is 11.2% more than last year. In addition, the number of foreign guests has grown 11.8%, reaching 1.246 million.

Statistical data also shows that the number of nights spent in Latvian hotels and other tourist accommodation facilities grew 14.6% in summer, reaching 1.976 million. The number of nights spent by foreign tourists in summer grew 12.3%.

The total number of guests serviced by Latvian hotels and accommodation facilities in this year’s summer months was 1.013 million, which is 10.4% more than last summer. This includes 687,100 foreign guests (+11.1%).

In 2016, Latvian hotels and other tourist accommodation facilities serviced a total of 2.304 million guests, which is 7.7% more than 2015.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/antane-transit-industry-has-been-on-thin-ice-lately-173108 http://bnn-news.com/antane-transit-industry-has-been-on-thin-ice-lately-173108#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:00:06 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173108

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«The transit industry has been on thin ice lately. Russia’s decision to divert all cargoes to its ports will only smash the ice. The government and state policy-makers have two choices – wait for the ice to break completely and watch the industry drown until finally stepping in, or act now to at least reduce the crisis for the country’s national economy, workers and their families,» says President of Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics Inga Antāne.

She says that hoping that the situation’s continued decline does not reflect on Latvia’s economy goes against the basic principles of economy.

She also notes that the future progression of the industry’s developed action plan to help save the situation will become clearer this week – it will either drown in the ocean of paperwork or it will be carried for detailed discussions. BATL notes that on Tuesday, 17 October, Saeima’s National Economy Committee will review matters associated with the industry’s competitiveness. On Wednesday, 18 October, the action plan will be accepted as one of the main topics on the agenda of the Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council meeting. This council is led by Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics organized a press-conference at Bergs Hotel on Wednesday, 13 September. During this conference, the association reported on the proposed action plan with specific objectives and deadlines for the government.

Members of the association also invited Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis to take charge in talks with industry representatives, considering that talks with Transport Ministry and minister Uldis Augulis have reached a dead end.

After the official portion of the conference, in which BATL president Inga Antāne, Ventbunkers economy and budget office manager Ivars Landmanis, Baltic Expresis chairman Māris Bremze and Ventspils Commercial Port board member Jānis Hāze discussed topical problems in the industry and answered questions from the audience.

It is important to emphasize that Antāne, opening the discussion about the industry’s problems, said: «It is not just about transit, but also about Latvia’s economy as a whole. The industry provides 8,000 jobs and brings the state budget around one billion euros every year.»

The conference pointed to the trend for processed cargo volumes to decline. «This is the reality,» said BATL president. She added that it is necessary to review costs, the current loan volume and the tariff, which is set to grow by 7% next year.

Antāne emphasized the widely criticized matter regarding the electrification of Latvia’s railway: «Latvia cannot afford electrification at the moment. We have proposed modernizing existing infrastructure multiple times in the past. Unfortunately, our cries fell on deaf ears.»

«Wars broke out because of lack of communication, and I don’t want to fight. We believe the prime minister should take over talks,» said Antāne.

«Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently publicly said that no more cargoes from Russia will be sent to Latvian ports next year! The transit industry already feels the effect from this because coordination of transport schedules with Russia is already poor. This decision from Russia will have a strong impact for the transit industry, the country’s tax revenue and employment,» BATL employees previously said.

«Transport Ministry, which is responsible for the industry, has pretended to be deaf to the industry’s pleas for years. Incompetent and ruinous decisions, formal declines, lack of communication with the industry and continued inaction over the years has led to a situation when the country’s second largest national economy sector, which provides a considerable contribution to the GDP and employs thousands of people, stands on the brink of a crisis,» experts added.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/kucinskis-evasive-in-evaluation-of-unity-s-economy-minister-candidates-173105 http://bnn-news.com/kucinskis-evasive-in-evaluation-of-unity-s-economy-minister-candidates-173105#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:45:36 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173105

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis remains evasive when it comes to assessing Unity’s Economy Minister candidates.

According to unofficial information, among the potential candidates are Riga City Council deputy Vilnis Ķirsis, Foreign Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica and Welfare Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Karina Ploka.

On Monday, 16 October, Kučinskis told LTV that in his last conversation with Unity leader and Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens the two discussed this matter. The two agreed that following Unity’s decision, assessments regarding specific candidates will not be provided. Ašeradens promised a decision from the board of Unity would come on Monday. He also added that there is not 100% guarantee that an appropriate candidate would be found by then.

Talks will commence once there is solid topic to discuss, said the prime minister and added that he will ask candidates about ‘major projects’ and completion of the government’s action plan.

On Monday, 16 October, Unity plans to decide on a specific Economy Minister candidate. Unity has to pick a new candidate because Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens has decided to step down to replace Solvita Āboltiņa and become chairman of Unity’s Saeima faction.

«Unity has no plans to give the minister’s post to any other party. I will support the chosen candidate to the best of my ability. The final decision as to which of the three candidates we pick will be made on Monday, 16 October. I can say right now that all three come from our party,» Ašeradens said.

Kučinskis has said that Ašeradens will not sign his resignation once the candidate becomes known.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/amid-alleged-sexual-harassment-scandal-roivas-leaves-post-in-riigikogu-173101 http://bnn-news.com/amid-alleged-sexual-harassment-scandal-roivas-leaves-post-in-riigikogu-173101#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:59:38 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173101
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Former Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas

The former head of Estonian government Taavi Rõivas, who has been pointed to as allegedly having groped a woman during a visit to Singapore, has denied the claims, but has nevertheless decided to leave the of the second deputy speaker of the Estonian parliament.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR cited Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht as writing that at an after-work party of a trade delegation in Singapore, a delegation member, the newspaper implied – Rõivas, had pulled up a woman’s dress and groped her.

The former Estonian Prime Minister and ex-leader of Reform Party, commented to ERR that this had not happened, but behaviour was that he had «danced too close» to one of the women present, which had made her uncomfortable.

«And though I didn’t understand it at the time, though I thought at the time that it was a relatively innocent dance, it was too much for her. (..) I don’t really know if this is enough to resign, but I think that beyond someone getting hurt, if this is turning into such a big scandal that it affects my colleagues then to me this resignation isn’t painful,» explained the politician.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/de-facto-only-one-person-was-convicted-of-corruption-in-politics-by-knab-in-15-years-173098 http://bnn-news.com/de-facto-only-one-person-was-convicted-of-corruption-in-politics-by-knab-in-15-years-173098#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:50:15 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173098

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIn the past fifteen years, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau completed only one political corruption case, as concluded by De Facto programme of LTV.

A prison sentence was given to once the Mayor of Jurmala Juris Hlevicskis in the so-called Jurmalgeit case. Meanwhile other major cases either remain in development or have long since ended without conclusive proof. No politicians have been put on the accused bench in criminal cases regarding significant bribes discovered in public sector procurements, the programme reports.

LTV notes that this contrasted greatly with what was reported by foreign representatives at KNAB’s organized 15th jubilee anti-corruption conference last week. The main topic at the first day of the conference was fight against political corruption.

«I like Brazil’s example very much. Of course, Brazil is a very big country. Latvia much smaller in comparison, however. As chief of KNAB, I can say that there are some similarities nonetheless. This is why there is a need for KNAB to resolve those matters,» said KNAB Chief Jēkabs Straume, commenting on Brazilian prosecutor’s presentation on the so-called Car Wach case, which is considered the largest corruption scandal in the democratic country’s history to this day.

Corruption charges in Brazil have been presented to the current and three former presidents. Multiple current and former parliament leaders are either on the accused bench or in prison already. The former governor or Rio de Janeiro, several ministers, officials and businessmen are already in prison. Charges have been presented to several hundred other people – politicians and influential businessmen. When attempts were made to change laws to make the investigation harder, people took to the streets, forcing politicians to step down, De Facto reports.

Sérgio Bruno Cabral Fernandes, prosecutor of the Brazilian Federal District, admits – an investigation on such a scale would have been impossible to conduct several years ago. «The majority of the Congress is involved in this illegal scheme. This is a very sad reality, but it is true: the majority of our politicians are corrupt. […] Such crimes were committed in the past, but I think there has been a change in Brazil’s mentality since then. We now know that a corrupt policy can be changed. We have young and idealistic professionals working in the public sector to change the country. Of course there have been several important changes made to our laws, which makes things easier for us, but I believe the most important change is the one associated with our mentality,» says the Brazilian prosecutor.

The programme also reports that it is unclear where Straume sees similarities between Latvia and Brazil. For example, accomplishments of Latvian law enforcement officers are a far cry from their Brazilian colleagues, notes De Facto, adding that in the past fifteen years KNAB has finished only one political corruption case – the so-called Jurmalgeit. The now former Mayor of Jurmala Juris Hlevicskis was put in prison as a result of this case.

Jurmalgeit 2 took place five years later. Review of this case in the court continues to this day. The sentence to a different Mayor of Jurmala – Raimonds Munkevics – has yet to come into force.

De Facto reports that KNAB also investigated cases regarding bribes worth millions in relation to procurement procedures or territory planning changes. The so-called Riga City Council bribery case has been reviewed by the court. Daimler case remains in development. The same can be said of the Latvenergo infrastructure procurement cases. However, to this day there are no high-ranking officials among the accused in those criminal cases.

For example, in the Latvenergo criminal case on TEC-2 reconstruction, which was submitted to court in January, there are twelve accused individuals, including former company president Kārlis Miķelsons, but there isn’t a single politician among them.

This is admitted by prosecutor in charge of the case Viorika Jirgena: «Aside from other incriminated crimes, three former Latvenergo officials are accused of bribery. It is already known that there isn’t a single person accused in this case who can be called a politician. I don’t deal in assumptions. No proof was found of any payments being performed to politicians. With that, I would rather not speculate on what may have been. In any case, no charges were raised because there was no proof found.»

Why didn’t KNAB, an institution formed specifically to combat high-level corruption, including political corruption, fail to accomplish much in such criminal cases? An optimistic version is that politicians in Latvia are more honest than the ones in Lithuania, which has experienced impeachment of its president after a corruption scandal, or Estonia, where Mayor of Tallinn Edgars Savisars now sits on the accused bench. The more pessimistic version is that Latvian law enforcement officers are simply too inexperienced to combat political corruption on a scale found in Brazil. De Facto journalists say.

Also LTV notes that the truth is somewhere in the middle based on what Straume said: «This Brazilian example points to a catastrophic level of collaboration among politicians and business interest groups, as well as enormous monetary exchange between the ruling power and opposition. I think the situation is not as bad in Latvia. But this other factor – the necessity to improve capabilities of relevant law enforcement institutions, including KNAB – is vital for the improvement of the situation.»

Political corruption is not limited to paying bribes to offices in exchange for a specific vote. Political capture is also a form of corruption, says OECD political analyst Jukihiko Hamada: «Political capture is a phenomenon when public policy is systematically captured or skewed as a result of unbalanced external influence. This is not limited to involvement of mega-corporations, it can be done by a small but influential group of people. It is not important who tries influencing political processes. What is important is that public interests are left unaddressed and politics are instead used to serve the interests of few.»

OECD representative reports that public decision-makers can be involved in corrupt processes indirectly, without them knowing it. Those who perform political capture can use friendly ties with legislators and manipulate them by providing false information. There is no single way to combat this phenomenon. Preventing it requires a whole spectrum of different activities, including protection of whistleblowers, regulations against lobbying activities and transparent financing of political parties and election campaigns.

De Facto reports that two criminal processes mentioned by KNAB as accomplishments in the fight against political corruption are associated with violations of political parties financing regulations. A criminal process was launched this year. KNAB has yet to reveal a thing about it. A criminal case was launched last year. As part of it, authorities detained Mayor of Jurmala Gatis Truksnis and millionaire Jūlijs Krūmiņš. A shadow of suspicion is also cast on the Union of Greens and Farmers and To Latvia from the Heart.

«Based on information available to me from the investigation, this case is planned to be completed before the end of the year and have it sent to the prosecutor’s office at the beginning of next year,» says KNAB deputy chief for combating matters Jānis Roze.

But why hasn’t KNAB made much progress with combating political corruption in the past fifteen years? Straume refuses to comment on this because he has only recently become chief of KNAB. He is more open in regards to his vision for the future of KNAB: «It should serve as a watchdog. There has to be an institution whose independence is clear and unquestionable, one that would not be pulled into political fights and one that is not financially influenced by different budget talks. […]» he said.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/centre-party-victorious-in-estonian-local-government-elections-173095 http://bnn-news.com/centre-party-victorious-in-estonian-local-government-elections-173095#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 07:52:54 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173095

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

In the Estonian municipal election, held on October 15, the largest overall support has been won by Centre Party that is also the ruling party in Estonian central government.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the centrists, who have officially cooperated by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in the past, lost six mandates in Tallinn and 4.6% around Estonia compared to the 2013 municipal elections, yet the Centre Party still got 27.3%.of all votes across all of Estonia’s voting districts.

Second came independent candidates and election coalition lists with a total of 26.8%, but the liberal Reform Party received 19.5% of the overall vote.

In the capital, Centre Party won 40 of the 79 mandates on the Tallinn city council with its mayoral candidate Taavi Ass being overshadowed by one of the city’s deputy mayors, Mihhail Kõlvart, who received 24,712 personal votes.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/week-to-kick-off-warm-in-latvia-weather-to-become-colder-down-the-line-173089 http://bnn-news.com/week-to-kick-off-warm-in-latvia-weather-to-become-colder-down-the-line-173089#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 06:45:06 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173089

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAt the beginning of the week, several cyclones will pass over Scandinavia. Cyclones will also dictate weather in Latvia. Atmospheric fronts will pass over the country multiple times throughout the week. Nevertheless, the sun will appear every now and then, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Wind will draw in from the west and south-west. Wind speed will reach 15 m/sec along the coast. With warmer masses of air entering the country, air temperature will reach +18° C during the day.

High atmospheric pressure will appear in the middle of the week and calm the wind. Weather will be cloudy for the most part. There will be little precipitation and only in certain areas. Colder masses of air will be carried into the country later in the week. Because of that, air temperature will drop to +4° C… +9° C at night and will not exceed +8° C… +13° C at day.

Cyclone activity will increase again at the end of the week. Several wide precipitation zones will pass over Latvia on Saturday and Sunday. Because of that, Latvia will experience heavy rainfall and strong wind – up to 15-17 m/sec.

Ref: 225.109.109.6526

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/ceo-of-samsung-electronics-resigns-citing-unprecedented-difficulties-173092 http://bnn-news.com/ceo-of-samsung-electronics-resigns-citing-unprecedented-difficulties-173092#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 06:44:35 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173092
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Kwon Oh-hyun

At the world’s second largest electronics firm Samsung Electronics, its co-chief executive officer Kwon Oh-hyun has stepped down, pointing to management problems in the massive South Korean company.

British public broadcaster BBC reports that his resignation came last week, on the same day the Samsung Electronics forecast record quarterly profits, citing higher memory chip prices.

Kwon one of three co-chief executive officers explained: «As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company [to] start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry».

Samsung Electronics one of 60 interlinked companies making up the Samsung Group conglomerate. The latter’s heir apparent Lee Jae-yong was this August convicted of bribery and corruption and punished to five years in prison.

Ref: 111.111.111.5084

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/accreditation-fees-for-sign-language-interpreter-programmes-may-be-reduced-in-latvia-173086 http://bnn-news.com/accreditation-fees-for-sign-language-interpreter-programmes-may-be-reduced-in-latvia-173086#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 06:09:47 +0000 LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173086

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Welfare Ministry intends to work with Education and Science Ministry to find a solution for the situation with accreditation fees in the existing sign language interpreter programme, as reported by Welfare Ministry’s representative Aiga Ozoliņa.

She says the ministry intends to support the continuation of the sign language interpreter programme at the Social Integration State Agency. The accreditation term for the existing programme will end soon, and development of a new programme would be very expensive.

Ozoliņa adds that SIVA will also work with Education and Science Ministry to find a way to reduce costs. She also says that some time ago, when Welfare Ministry found out about the costs of development of a new programme and small number of students participating in it, the institution asked Education and Science Ministry to secure this programme for some other 2nd level higher education institution. This request received a rejection from the ministry.

Welfare Ministry has invited chairman of Latvian Society of the Deaf Sandra Gerenovska to join a meeting of the National Invalids Council, which was also attended by Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis, to help search for a solution to this matter.

Aldis Dūdiņš, deputy director of the Social Services Department of Saeima’s Social and Employment Matters Committee, had previously said that it would be worth introducing sign language interpretation programmes in other education facilities in Latvia.

At the moment, there is only one institution that prepares sign language interpreters in Latvia – SIVA College in Jurmala. Graduations are also rare for this programme – only four out of sixteen people pass on average.

Ref: 224.109.109.5259

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/austrian-government-expected-to-be-headed-by-31-year-old-kurz-173083 http://bnn-news.com/austrian-government-expected-to-be-headed-by-31-year-old-kurz-173083#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 05:50:24 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173083
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Top candidate of the People’s Party (OeVP) Sebastian Kurz attends his party’s victory celebration meeting in Vienna, Austria

In the Austrian parliamentary election, held on Sunday, October 15, victory is projected to the right-wing Austrian People’s Party and its leader Sebastian Kurz could be become Europe’s youngest head of government.

British public broadcaster BBC reports that according to projections, the People’s Party was set to win more than 31% and it is so far uncertain, if the Social Democrats or the far-right Freedom Party will finish second.

Addressing supporters after the vote, Sebastian Kurz, who has already served as the Austrian Foreign and Integration Minister, stated: «It is time for change in this country. Today is a strong order for us, to change this country, and I say thank you to you all who made this possible».

Immigration was the dominant issue in the run-up to the vote, and Kurz appealed to conservative and right-wing voters with promises to close migrant routes to Europe, limit benefit payments to refugees and ban immigrants from receiving benefits until they have lived in Austria for five years.

Ref: 111.111.111.5083

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/week-in-lithuania-lithuania-buying-norwegian-air-defence-systems-173077 http://bnn-news.com/week-in-lithuania-lithuania-buying-norwegian-air-defence-systems-173077#respond Sun, 15 Oct 2017 09:24:38 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173077

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Lithuanian defence officials have announced intention to buy Norwegian medium-range air-defence systems NASAMS in hopes of patching one of the biggest defence gaps.

Published last week, the state budget draft envisages 122.379 million euros for acquisition and modernization of medium-range air defence systems within the next three years, with about equal amounts earmarked in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Lithuania’s Armed Forces should reportedly have the system available by 2020. Air defence is one of the weakest points in the Baltic states. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia currently only have short-range anti-aircraft defence systems with a range of 3-5 km. Meanwhile, ten Norwegian missiles fly a few dozen km and take down targets at an altitude of 15 km.

PM offers Vilnius as venue for regional World Economic Forum event

Amid Lithuania’s plans of developing the infrastructure of electric cars, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis suggested hosting a regional event of the World Economic Forum in Vilnius. Skvernelis made the offer to Klaus Martin Schwab, the forum’s founder and board chairman, at a meeting in Vilnius on Friday, October 13. He also emphasised the importance of cyber and information security, Lithuania’s aspirations of joining the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and planned active cooperation with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Lithuanian dairy firm clashes with Estonia’s Estover

Žemaitijos Pienas, one of Lithuania’s largest dairy companies, has initiated a dispute with Estonian milk processor Estover over a sign of string cheese. Žemaitijos Pienas said it had filed a suit with an Estonian court over the Pik-Nik brand, demanding that Estover should be banned from using a similar sign in Estonia where it sells its production.

Ignalina N-plant gets go-ahead for tests

Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) has given a green light to the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is no longer operational, to start hot tests of the radioactive waste sorting and storage complex. If the tests are successful, the plant will start storing the waste in the new complex in 2018. Ina Daukšienė, spokeswoman for Ignalina, informed that the complex would store 2,500 cubic meters of short-term waste, which will require nearly 1,200 concrete containers, and 2,000 cubic meters of long-term waste that will need 840 metal containers. The processes waste will be stored for up to 50 years before burial in burial sites, which still need to be constructed. The nearly 200-million-euro complex was built by a Russian-capital German company Nukem Technologies.

Landsbergis awarded Lithuanian Diplomacy Star

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius on Thursday, October 12, bestowed the ministry’s sign of honour, the Lithuanian Diplomacy Star, to Vytautas Landsbergis, the chairman of the country’s Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas who is often titled as the first-post independence state leader. Landsbergis received the ministry’s highest award for his outstanding merits to Lithuania’s statehood and international recognition, the Foreign Ministry said. The Lithuanian Diplomacy   Star award has been conferred since 2010 for Lithuanian and foreign citizens and organizations for promoting Lithuania’s name and fostering interstate relations.

Seimas approved increased presence in foreign missions

The Parliament on Thursday, October 12, gave a green light to dispatch of more troops to international missions abroad, including increased participation in efforts against the Islamic State group. The bid was supported by 87 parliamentarians, with no votes against or abstentions. Under the resolution, Lithuania will be able to send up to 40 military and civilian members of the defence system to the Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield operations headed by the US-led coalition. Currently, up to 30 troops can be sent to Inherent Resolve. Six instructors have been sent to the mission and they can be sent for training of Iraq’s Armed Forces. Currently, about 90 Lithuanian soldiers serve in nine international operations and missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Ukraine, Mali, the Central African Republic and the Mediterranean Sea.

Delfi.lt news portal gets new editor-in-chief

Rasa Lukaitytė-Vnarauskienė will replace Monika Garbaciauskaitė-Budrienė in the post of editor-in-chief of Lithuania’s most popular delfi.lt news portal, the portal said on Thursday, October 12. Garbaciauskaitė-Budrienė said she had decided to reshuffle her professional priorities and focus on journalistic and creative work, pledging to continue her cooperation with delfi.lt. Lukaitytė-Vnarauskienė has graduated the Vilnius University with a degree in journalism and master’s degree in economics, she has been working for delfi.lt since 2006. After a few years as a reporter of economic news, she has been heading the business news desk for the past two years and serving as deputy editor-in-chief.

MP: inflation won’t eat up revenue growth

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that people are more sensitive about inflation than they should be, adding that the price hike would not be steep enough to outdo growing salaries.

«We will definitely not have (inflation of) 5 percent, from what we project, salaries in the private sector should grow by 10 percent and in the public sector by 6 percent this year. In light of the next year’s budget, inflation will not eat it all,» Skvernelis told Žinių Radijas news radio on Thursday morning.

The annual inflation stood at 4.8 per cent in September, as compared year-on-year, while the average annual inflation was 3 per cent (4.4 per cent and 2.6 per cent in August, respectively). Lithuania’s Finance Ministry projected in September that the average annual inflation for 2017 would be 3.5 per cent in light of the faster increase in prices for services, which is 0.1 percentage points above the spring estimates.

Government grants railway company 36 mn euro

Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG), which were recently slammed a fine of nearly 28 million euros from the European Commission (EC) for competition offense, should next year receive close to 36 million euros in compensation for passenger transport losses. Transport and Communications Minister Paulius Martinkus said the decision to compensate the losses incurred by the state-run railway company from carrying passengers had been taken in spring of 2017.

«When the budget drafting was started in spring, the decision was taken to move in the direction to cover for special obligations from the budget, at the same time, Lietuvos Geležinkeliai will be required to pay dividend. This is the practice from now on,» Martinkus said.

The 2018 state budget draft envisages 35.752 million euros for the railway company.

Mantas Dubauskas, spokesman for LG, said the losses incurred due to carrying passengers had not been compensated by the state until now.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.5085

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/photos-of-the-week-13-10-2017-173076 http://bnn-news.com/photos-of-the-week-13-10-2017-173076#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 12:29:12 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173076

BNN offers you to take a look at topical, interesting and simply beautiful pictures of this week.

Anyone can participate in compiling of our galleries of the week! Send your photos to our e-mail redakcija@bnn.lv, with «Photos of the Week» as the topic.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/dryer-and-warmer-weather-expected-173047 http://bnn-news.com/dryer-and-warmer-weather-expected-173047#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:04:57 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173047

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

This weekend and next week, dryer and warmer weather is expected in Latvia, according to forecasts by the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

«As the weekend starts, we cannot forecast significant changes in the weather: on Saturday, rain is still expected in many areas. With the evening getting nearer, the weather will improve and Sunday could be without significant precipitation. Temperatures during the day on Sunday will be between +10 and +14 degrees C,» the centre wrote on Friday, October 13.

In the first half of the coming week, warmer air will enter the territory of Latvia and there will be more sunshine, making days significantly warmer than this week.

Temperatures are expected to reach +14 to +16 degrees.

The middle and the second half of the week will see south-western and western wind grow faster at times reaching 15 to18 m/s, yet the weather will stay comparatively dry.

Ref: 111.111.111.5085

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/orkla-foods-latvija-invests-122-000-euros-in-new-production-line-and-design-173044 http://bnn-news.com/orkla-foods-latvija-invests-122-000-euros-in-new-production-line-and-design-173044#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:12:11 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173044

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Juice and sauce producer Orkla Foods Latvija owned by the Norwegian conglomerate Orkla Group is investing 122 000 euros in a new production line and in the development of new product packaging design.

Representatives of the firm unveiled: «In the factory located in Spilve, Babītes novads, works have been launched to install a new production line. It is planned to produce salad sauces (dressings) and mayonnaises in bottles of a new design for Latvian and export markets».

Orkla Foods Latvija noted that the products will be filled in 305-mililitre and 425-militre plastic bottles.

According to the company, export markets for its Latvian-made products are the Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Nordic countries, Russia, Ireland, Slovakia, Germany, Ukraine, the UK and the U.S.

Ref: 111.111.111.5083

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/return-to-military-conscription-discussed-in-latvia-173041 http://bnn-news.com/return-to-military-conscription-discussed-in-latvia-173041#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 08:37:02 +0000 BNN / LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=173041
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Latvian Defence Ministry State Secretary Jānis Garisons

The restoration of mandatory military service would need three preconditions – the need expressed by the military, political will and public support, evaluated Latvian Defence Ministry State Secretary Jānis Garisons at an academic discussion on the necessity to restore conscription.

At the discussion held by the academic society Austrums on Thursday, October 13, Garisons stated that the renewal of conscription is not planned in long-term defence plans.

«Two things are important, namely, we haven’t said we’re against mandatory military service, but currently we cannot afford it. Secondly, we have to work on national defence being the task of the society as a whole. Unfortunately, the geopolitical situation is the way it is. Five or ten years ago, I would have agreed to change something or to experiment,» explained the Latvian Defence Ministry State Secretary.

In early 2017, the Latvian Defence Ministry wrote in a press release that apart from a large increase in funding, the restoration of conscription would need a considerable number of personnel to work as drill instructors and officers, which, in turn, means fully disbanding the existing professional service and the best members of the Latvian Land Guard (Zemessardze).

Ref: 111.111.111.5084

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/london-housing-rent-prices-have-risen-sharply-to-low-income-renters-study-finds-173038 http://bnn-news.com/london-housing-rent-prices-have-risen-sharply-to-low-income-renters-study-finds-173038#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 07:41:56 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173038

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

UK low-income renters currently on average pay 28% of their monthly income on housing rent, which is a considerable increase from 21% in the mid-1990s, researchers have found.

British public broadcaster BBC reports that the British Institute for Fiscal Studies found in a study low-income tenants have been hit by substantial cuts to housing benefit, with government support expected to fall «further and further behind» the cost of housing.

Over the same period of time, the proportion of people renting homes privately has increased from 8% to 19% and average private rents have gone up 33%.

According to the IFS analysis, funded by the British social policy research charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation: «Renters are paying considerably more for their homes than 20 years ago. (..) In real terms, the median private rent paid in London was 53% higher in the mid-2010s than in the mid-1990s, while in the rest of the country, it was 29% higher».

Ref: 111.111.111.5083

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/italian-court-sick-pay-applies-to-woman-who-cared-for-her-ill-dog-173035 http://bnn-news.com/italian-court-sick-pay-applies-to-woman-who-cared-for-her-ill-dog-173035#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 07:34:33 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173035

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

A woman in Italy has won a trial on right to receive sick pay for being absent from work to care for her dog after surgery.

British public broadcaster BBC reports that the woman, a publicly unnamed academic at Rome’s La Sapienza University took two days off to look after Cucciola, an English Setter, in the days following Cucciola’s surgery.

A judge agreed to the woman’s opinion that the university should put the absence down to «serious or family personal reasons».

Her lawyers from Italy’s Anti-Vivisection League pointed out a rule in Italian law according to which people, who leave an animal to «grave suffering» can be imprisoned for a year and fined with up to 10,000 euros.

Ref: 111.111.111.5082

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/passenger-trains-in-latvia-to-have-wireless-internet-173031 http://bnn-news.com/passenger-trains-in-latvia-to-have-wireless-internet-173031#comments Thu, 12 Oct 2017 13:50:35 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173031

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Wireless internet is to available in all passenger trains in Latvia operated by the state-owner railway passenger carrier Pasažieru vilciens.

According to the company, receiver equipment of the 4G mobile internet of the Latvian state and Scandinavian-owned telecommunications firm LMT and wireless network rooters have been installed in all carriages of diesel trains and in all motor carriages of electric trains.

Representatives of Pasažieru vilciens added: «Please take into account that the speed of data traffic depends on the distance between the respective computer device and the rooter, the number of users and from the location of the train towards mobile communications towers».

The availability of wireless internet provides not only the chance to spend time usefully or to enjoy web entertainment content, but also facilitates buying or showing an e-ticket to a controller inside the train.

Ref: 111.111.111.5081

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/with-central-banks-keeping-mum-talks-of-re-bubble-deemed-unfounded-173028 http://bnn-news.com/with-central-banks-keeping-mum-talks-of-re-bubble-deemed-unfounded-173028#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 13:19:03 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173028

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The Baltics‘ real estate (RE) market remains bubbly and robust, but the exuberance the market shows seems worrisome to some. Yet the majority points to the Baltic central banks. Unless they send a message of distress, followed with the tightening of lending, there’s nothing to worry about.

A total of 368 million euros were pumped into commercial property acquisitions in the Baltic countries in the year‘s first half, according to Ober-Haus, one of the Baltics‘ leading real estate players.

At the mark, the acquisitions were 18 per cent down, year-on-year. The total of 18 investment transactions concluded in the first half-year in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia encompassed the purchase of over 312,000 sqm of commercial property, including modern offices, retail, warehousing and industrial buildings and premises, at least of 1.5 million euro in value, according to the real estate’s company report.

«Lithuania shared the major portion of the investment in the first half of the year, 198 million euro or 54 per cent of the overall number. Real estate sales Estonia in the first half of 2017 amassed 91 million euro or 25 per cent of the overall investment. Meanwhile, Latvia saw the smallest share of investment over the period totalling 79 million euro,» Saulius Vagonis, Ober-Haus Head of Valuation & Analysis, said.

The largest investment transactions in Lithuania during the period were the acquisition of the shares in Baltic Retail Properties and the acquisition of the Vertas and Pentagon office buildings in Vilnius.

Among the noteworthy purchases is namely the latter – the Swedish investment company Eastnine (former East Capital Explorer) signed the deal in June 2017.

The other stand-out is the purchase of an almost completed office building in Ozas Park from the ICOR Group by the Finnish property investment and management company Technopolis.

The transaction involved the purchase of both the office building and the parcel of land next to the building. The total transaction value is about 32 million euro.

The largest investment transactions in Estonia involved the sale of three retail centres managed by Kesko to Baltic Retail Properties, the acquisition of the shares in Baltic Retail Properties mentioned above, and the sale of the Prisma Shopping Centre in the city of Narva. The shopping centre was purchased by the French property management company CORUM for 16.7 million euro from EfTEN Kinnisvarafond AS.

According to the Ober-Haus representative, the major portion of RE investment in Latvia accounted for the sale of 4 retail centres managed by Kesko to Baltic Retail Properties and subsequent sale of the shares of Baltic Retail Properties to CPA®:17 – Global.

According to Ober-Haus, of the total 368 million euro invested in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, 69 per cent went to the retail property sector. A total of 25 per cent investment was made in offices and the remaining smallest portion, around 6 per cent, was traditionally invested in warehousing facilities. The largest transaction in the warehousing property segment was the purchase of 21,000 sqm logistics centre in Vievis with Rimi as the anchor tenant by the Estonian investment company United Partners Property from Sirin Development.

According to Ober-Haus, over the past 17 years, investors from 15 different countries have invested in the developed commercial property in Lithuania and this number has not changed since 2015.

Meanwhile, some foreign banks increasingly point out to what may evolve sooner or later into a housing bubble.

Swiss bank UBS, for example, has reported about the rising risk of the kind in some major cities across the world. According to the bank’s drawn Global Real Estate Bubble Index, the bubble risk has grown in Toronto, Stockholm, Munich, Vancouver, Sydney, London and Hong Kong. In contrast, housing is fairly valued in Milan, New York, Singapore and Boston.

Commenting the findings, Raimondas Reginis, senior market analyst of Ober-Haus, noted that a big interest in housing, both from foreign investors and local market participants, positive expectations about future housing prices, and historically low mortgage costs rapidly increase housing prices.

«In some cases, they have already reached or are in excess of the price levels of a decade ago. The demand for buy-to-let property and slow supply of new housing significantly increase the gap between the big cities and the remaining regions of the countries, and at the same time reduce the possibilities of the residents of major cities buying residential property,» the expert said.

Meanwhile in Lithuania, similar trends have been observed since 2010: a growing gap between the housing prices in Vilnius and other regions of the country, demand for buy-to-let property, record low mortgage interest rates, and largely moderate or positive expectations about future housing prices.

«These factors determine housing price growth in the country, particularly in the capital city. However, our most active regions are protected against greater price changes by sufficient supply of new housing and the real implementation of macroprudential policy. Although over the past seven years housing prices in Vilnius increased by 25 per cent on average, even faster wage growth keeps the housing affordability levels record high,» Reginis said.

According to a report by Ober-Haus, today an inhabitant of Vilnius can purchase 5.9 sqm in a medium class apartment for his average net annual salary. This indicator is nearly twice as high as that in 2006–2007, since both nominal and real prices are far behind the price level recorded 10 years ago.

«However, with faster growth of housing prices, the Bank of Lithuania may introduce stricter lending criteria for mortgages in an attempt to cool the housing market. The rise of «frozen» interest rates could also be effective in naturally controlling both the Lithuanian real estate market and the markets of the regions at risk of a bubble,» Reginis emphasised.

For Eimutis Židanavicius, a real estate broker in the Lithuanian Baltic resort of Palanga, actions by Central Bank of Lithuania and the commercial banks are to be watched out first.

«Unless banks tighten mortgage conditions, there is nothing to worry about. However, it is very unlikely,» he told BNN.

Yet the builders, according to him, will have to slow down their construction pace due to high emigration.

«There might be not enough people soon to buy any real estate,» the RE agent inferred.

in Lithuania, noted that flat sales are more robust in the lower-price segment.

In his words, in Palanga, young families seek flats in the range of 70,000 euros.

«The other major group of buyers are rich Lithuanians who obtain their second home in Palanga,» he said.

Lasta Maslinskienė, a managing partner at Capital, a real estate company, also downplayed the concerns of the market’s overheating.

«Flat sales are good and that many buyers are willing to buy not fully completed flats demonstrates that the market is robust,» she told BNN. «I don’t see any signs of a real estate market bubble, however the market is saturated. Especially in capital city Vilnius,» the broker underscored.

According to her, flat lease prices have a tendency to edge down due to the abundance of offered rentals.

«A couple of years ago, many people would buy up houses expecting to earn from the lease. But with the lease prices on a lower end, the buying can be affected, too,» Maslinskienė emphasised.

Things in bucolic Lithuania are a lot grimmer, however.

«The supply in Alytus is 10 time higher than the demand. If you were to look through the ads, the pages are full of ads placed by those who want to sell flats. It tells all,» Žilvinas Rėklaitis, a RE broker at JSC Maribustas, real estate company in southern town of Alytus, told BNN.

According to him, only those who are born after the restoration of independence in 1990 show interest in buying flats and medium-size houses in the once industrial hub.

«Ten years ago, our expats were also very eager to obtain real estate in their hometown Alytus. Not these days, as they simply do not see any prospects here anymore. The size of population of Alytus has decreased from 80000 at the peak to ca 35000 inhabitants now,» Rėklaitis accentuated.

There are no major real estate developments in the city, he added.

Ref: 111.111.111.5077

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/october-12-in-pictures-2-173025 http://bnn-news.com/october-12-in-pictures-2-173025#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 11:43:51 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=173025

BNN offers you to take a look at topical, interesting and simply beautiful pictures of the day.

Anyone can participate in the creation of our Galleries of the Day! Send your photos to our e-mail redakcija@bnn.lv, with «Pictures of the Day» as the topic.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/poll-ethnic-minorities-feeling-closer-to-latvia-express-limited-support-on-nato-172994 http://bnn-news.com/poll-ethnic-minorities-feeling-closer-to-latvia-express-limited-support-on-nato-172994#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 08:10:11 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=172994

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

The majority ethnic minority residents in Latvia feel a deep or a very deep sense of belonging to the country in 2017, which is an increase by 4% since last year and a 16%-increase since 2015, showed results of opinion polls by the Latvian Ministry of Culture.

Opinion polls conducted as part of the study Ethnic Minority Participation in Democratic Processes in Latvia showed that among ethnic Russians, the sense of pride of belonging to Latvia has broadened. In 2015, 44% of ethnic Russians recognised they feel they belong to the Baltic country, but in 2017, the rate has reached 59%.

At the same time, the negative assessment of the Soviet mass deportations of Latvian population in 1940 has become more widespread from 42% in 2015 to 58% in 2017.

Asked to express their opinion about the NATO, only 23% of the respondents noted they are positive or very positive about the military alliance. At the same time, 62% expressed a positive or a very positive opinion about Russia.

Ref: 111.111.111.5078

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/latvian-economy-minister-to-leave-post-172991 http://bnn-news.com/latvian-economy-minister-to-leave-post-172991#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 07:40:02 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=172991
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Latvian Minister of Economics, Deputy Prime Minister Arvils Ašeradens

The Latvian Minister of Economics, Deputy Prime Minister Arvils Ašeradens has decided to leave the post in the government and assume the mandate of a member of the Saeima so he could chair the parliamentary faction of his party Unity.

The official has on Wednesday, October 11, offered to his fellow party members his candidacy for the post of the chairperson of the Unity’s Saeima faction and received their backing. The party plans offer a new candidate for the post of the Minister of Economics in the coming weeks.

The current head of Unity’s Saeima faction is Solvita Āboltiņa, a long-time leading politician turned deeply unpopular, who plans to leave her seat in the Saeima and to return to her previous career in the Latvian diplomatic service.

Ašeradens managed several large Latvian media groups before engaging into politics in 2010.

Ref: 111.111.111.5077

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/facebook-dreaming-big-aims-at-converting-billion-people-to-virtual-reality-172988 http://bnn-news.com/facebook-dreaming-big-aims-at-converting-billion-people-to-virtual-reality-172988#comments Thu, 12 Oct 2017 07:11:17 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=172988

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

As Facebook continues its push for making virtual reality headsets popular, the U.S. internet giant has presented Oculus Go, a virtual reality device that works without a smartphone and would go on sale in 2018.

British public broadcaster BBC reports, citing Facebook chairman and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg as unveiling on Wednesday, October 11, that the device, priced at USD 199 (EUR 168) in the U.S., would be the «most accessible VR experience ever».

Sales of the firm’s virtual reality hardware have been slow since launching the first Oculus Rift headset in March 2016, while an alternative budget way to get Facebook’s VR is the Samsung Gear VR at USD 129 (EUR 109), which needs an expensive Samsung smartphone in order to operate.

Addressing the audience Facebook’s annual virtual reality developers conference in San Jose, the U.S., Zuckerberg admitted the technology has been slow to adopt to date, but he noted his company’s goal was that one day to attract one billion people to VR.

Ref: 111.111.111.5077

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/madrid-issues-ultimatum-to-catalonia-spain-celebrates-national-holiday-172985 http://bnn-news.com/madrid-issues-ultimatum-to-catalonia-spain-celebrates-national-holiday-172985#comments Thu, 12 Oct 2017 06:18:59 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=172985
Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

Spain is celebrating on Thursday, October 12, its Fiesta Nacional de España, but Madrid has issued to separatist Catalonia an ultimatum to clarify if its regional government has really declared Catalan independence, which could result in the Spanish government imposing direct rule over the autonomous region.

British public broadcaster BBC reports that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stated on Wednesday, October 11, in the Spanish parliament he has given Catalonia’s separatist leader Carles Puigdemont five days to clarify whether or not independence has been declared and another three days to withdraw the declaration.

If the independence declaration is not withdrawn, Madrid would employ Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allowing it to suspend the region’s autonomy and impose direct rule.

Reportedly, the President of the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, has signed a declaration of establishing an independent republic of Catalonia, but has suspended the declaration from coming into effect to negotiate.

«We call on international states and organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state,» Puigdemont stated at the Catalan regional parliament on Tuesday, October 10.

He also added: «I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks in the coming weeks without which it is not possible to reach an agreed solution».

Puigdemont stated on Sunday, October 1, when the Catalonian independence referendum took place: «With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic. My government, in the next few days will send the results of today’s vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum»

Catalan officials later announced 90% of those who voted backed independence in Sunday’s vote and that the turnout was 42.3%, even though hundreds of voters were injured as police used force to try to block voting.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has remained defiant and stated: «At this hour I can tell you in the strongest terms what you already know and what we have seen throughout this day. There has not been a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia»

Ref: 111.111.111.5075

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/top-3-fears-of-latvians-loss-of-loved-ones-illnesses-and-war-172980 http://bnn-news.com/top-3-fears-of-latvians-loss-of-loved-ones-illnesses-and-war-172980#respond Wed, 11 Oct 2017 13:21:07 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=172980

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

The most wide-spread fears people in Latvia have, according to an opinion poll conducted by Swedbank, are the fear to lose their loved ones (63% of respondents), the fear of incurable illnesses (46%) and the possibility of a war (35%).

The Swedish-owned bank also found in the poll that as the economic situation stabilises in Latvia, there people are less concerned about the possibility of losing their jobs (from 17% in 2011 to 12% in 2017).

Likewise, since 2011 the number of persons, who consider that in the event of a crisis they would be out of money, has got considerably lower (from 33% six years ago to 23% in 2017).

The bank also asked its respondents, what are the things people avoid most, and the poll results revealed that 31% of respondents avoid going a doctor, 21% avoid carrying out their dreams and 20% avoid taking up sports or switching to healthy eating and food.

Ref: 111.111.111.5075

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/2018-to-be-painful-to-30-of-latvian-fishermen-say-experts-172977 http://bnn-news.com/2018-to-be-painful-to-30-of-latvian-fishermen-say-experts-172977#respond Wed, 11 Oct 2017 12:43:56 +0000 BNN / LETA http://bnn-news.com/?p=172977

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

To a third of Latvian fishermen the year 2018 will be «painful» because of the European Union’s fishing quotas to Latvia in the Baltic Sea, but most of the entrepreneurs in the industry will be winners, evaluated the Latvian National Fisheries Producers’ Organisation.

Inārijs Voits, the board chairman of the Latvian National Fisheries Producers’ Organisation, noted that the total allowed catches of cod in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea have been cut by 8%, instead of the initially planned -28%, which is a significant achievement to four Latvian fishing companies only having opportunities to fish in the Baltic Sea.

«The quota reduction in the amount of 28% as planned by the European Commission would be a threat that the next year would be the last to one of these four firms,» Voits commented.

He also evaluated that the cut by of the allowed total catches of Baltic herring in the Baltic Sea Gulf of Riga next year is a negative development that will affect five Latvian fishing companies that do not have the chance to fish in the open Baltic Sea.

Ref: 111.111.111.5073

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/october-10-in-pictures-3-172973 http://bnn-news.com/october-10-in-pictures-3-172973#respond Wed, 11 Oct 2017 12:03:08 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=172973

BNN offers you to take a look at topical, interesting and simply beautiful pictures of the day.

Anyone can participate in the creation of our Galleries of the Day! Send your photos to our e-mail redakcija@bnn.lv, with «Pictures of the Day» as the topic.

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Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia http://bnn-news.com/latvian-unemployment-decreases-to-6-6-172944 http://bnn-news.com/latvian-unemployment-decreases-to-6-6-172944#respond Wed, 11 Oct 2017 09:34:39 +0000 BNN http://bnn-news.com/?p=172944

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

The rate of registered nationwide unemployment in Latvia decreased by 0.3 percentage points in September to 6.6%, estimated the Latvian Employment State Agency.

In early September, the 63 717 unemployed persons had been registered in the agency. By the end of first month of autumn, the number was lower by 2,256 workers.

Regionally, the lowest employment rate in the end of September was in greater Riga, 4.2%, with the highest traditionally being in Latgale, 15.7%. Kurzeme region in western Latvia had 7.2% of its workforce unemployed, while the north-eastern region of Vidzeme – 7.1% and the south-central region of Zemgale – 6%.

In late September 2016, the nationwide rate of registered unemployment in Latvia was 7.9%.

Ref: 111.111.111.5073

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