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Ceturtdiena 24.08.2017 | Name days: Boļeslavs, Bērtulis
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Five prime ministers – fivefold optimism

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From left: Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and their Finnish counterpart Jyrki Katainen

Today, September 16, the capital of Latvia held the annual Riga Conference 2011, the largest security and foreign policy forum in Northern Europe. Prime Ministers of Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland opened the conference. They all spoke about their homelands’ achievements in overcoming the crisis, at the same time singling out Dombrovskis’ performance in tackling the economic downfall that successfully.

For the delight of NATO. An elite fight club

Valdis Dombrovskis, Prime Minister of Latvia, pointed out that the key issue of today is to achieve more with less means available. He went on to give a brief account of the severe situation in 2009 – the recession. Back then, tax collection fell 30%, while fiscal consolidation – 13 to 16% of GDP. “We had to cut all costs, including in health care, education and public administration. As the saying goes – reforms start when money ends. It is exactly what happened with us,” he said.

According to Dombrovskis, the crisis served as a catalyst to start reforms. He could not help but mention that reforms launched in the national armed forces were highly approved by NATO, which even decided to borrow some of them.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk began his speech with a grim picture of the eurozone debt crisis. According to him, the clouds are thickening and no one knows what will happen next. “We must be courageous. Latvia showed all of us what courage truly means.” Tusk was glad he was the prime minister of a country struck by the crisis quite minimally. In this regard, he called the Baltic countries an elite club of fighters against the recession, “Just look at their GDPs now! This is a result of joint action and close cooperation,” he added.

Having heard out such good words about Latvia, moderator of the conference John Peet, editor of The Economist, suggested reading Dombrovskis’ book published just recently. According to him, it offers a wonderful recipe of how to lead a country out of an economic crisis.

Holy faith in tax collection and security

Andrus Ansip, Estonian Prime Minister, boasted about his country having been well prepared for the crisis. However, neither did Estonia escape consolidation, tax increase and reforms – a familiar story. But it is doing well today – the unemployment rate is shrinking faster than in other countries, while both the budget deficit and the sovereign debt are among the smallest ones in the European Union. Ansip shared his own recipe of overcoming the crisis, “I do not trust in all these euro bonds. I believe in structural reforms and efficient tax collection.”

He also highlighted a paradox witnessed by Latvia, “Carrying out reforms right before the elections is political suicide. Such a government would unlikely come to power again. But that is exactly what happened in Latvia when Dombrovskis was re-elected.” Isn’t that a miracle or what?

Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said at once he would do without speakign of his country’s achievements. He was more interested in the security issues of the Baltic countries. He went on to name three major instruments to ensure it. The first – financial stability. “If you want to know what to do during an economic growth period – ask Ansip, but if you are interested more in how to tackle a crisis – ask Dombrovskis. According to him, good infrastructure is the second most crucial thing, because the Baltics should not be isolated from the rest of the EU. In terms of the third aspect, Kubilius believes that NATO should pay special attention to these countries that are so close to Russia.

“Collaboration” was the key word of Finnish Prime Minister Finland Jyrki Kataynena’s speech. According to him, countries should be friends with one another also because the U.S. is much interested in Europeans paying greater attention to their security issues. Kataynena did not hesitate to flatter the Baltics a little. He forecasts the region will soon become the most dynamic in the whole Europe.

BNN assumes that the audience of this online conference, watching it from their homelands along the Baltic Sea, might be feeling less optimistic than these five top officials. And at least one of all people in front of their computer screens – an ordinary man – could not help but wonder at the fact that this evening turned into an excellent pre-election politic advertising for the Prime Minister Dombrovskis. Right in the eve of the 11th Saeima elections.


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