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Sunday 18.11.2018 | Name days: Doloresa, Aleksandrs
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BNN summary of the week: 13th Saeima’s meeting; expensive medicines; continued government formation in Latvia

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Announcement; Expectations; Plea; Decision; Saeima.

PROGRESS: first round of talks has made government formation one step closer in Latvia

The first round of talks with potential cooperation partners has made successful government formation one step closer in Latvia, says New Conservative Party’s prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns.

Politicians told journalists they view the chances of successfully forming the government as 80% to 20%.

Bordāns said the first phase of government formation talks concluded today with all parties eligible to enter the Saeima – KPV LV, Attīstībai/Par!, National Alliance ‘All for Latvia!’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ and New Unity.

During the second talk organized by representatives of KPV LV and NCP on 8 November, both sides affirmed intentions to support one another in the formation of Bordāns’ government, said KPV LV politician Aldis Gobzems. He said his political party generally supports NCP’s offered strategy for talks. The politician stressed that his party will consequently support Bordāns as a prospective prime minister candidate.

When asked about posts in the government KPV LV wants to take, Gobzems said his party has multiple requests and candidates. Bordāns has been informed as much. The politician said he will not mention any specific posts, adding that this is the responsibility of the prime minister candidate, so the question should be addressed to Bordāns. KPV LV representative reminded that the state president has publicly announced his prime minister candidate. Gobzems said he is prepared to work in the Cabinet of Ministers alongside Bordāns.

Full article here

ANNOUNCEMENT: medicines to become more expensive because of new European requirements

Due to the adoption of a verification system to check safety of medicines, medicines are expected to become more expensive, said Juris Bundulis, board chairman of Grindeks.

He says adoption of a verification system will require significant investments from medicine producers. With that, price rise for medicines is unavoidable. «We have to consider how this will affect patients, because medicines will most definitely become more expensive. For example, Grindeks has to invest several million euros to implement serialization requirements. Equipment manufacturers are happy – their business will definitely bloom,» said Bundulis.

At the same time, he says counterfeit medicines are not distributed by legal pharmacies, which are subject to the new system. The internet is used to distribute those products. This is why it is important to explain to patients that buying medicines on the internet comes with risk of purchased medicines having a detrimental effect on their health.

On top of that, it is nearly impossible to identify counterfeit medicines distributors on the internet. If patients purchase low-quality medicines in pharmacies, it is clear who suppliers and distributors are. Additionally, they have to compensate damages caused by their medicines. «Legislation and patients’ rights are very clear and guaranteed,» said Bundulis.

Full article here

EXPECTATIONS: New military court in Estonia could improve discipline in army

Ex-commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Johannes Kert has proposed the reintroduction of a separate military court system that judging by the war-related court proceedings in Ukraine would increase military discipline in the Baltic country.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that Kert, currently an MP, has the support to the idea from opposition Reform Party faction, both the Ministry of Justice and the head of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee are not in favour.

«In Ukraine the first problem was that the mobilisation [of its forces] was extremely chaotic, and the way the civil courts dealt with deserters and service evaders varied greatly,» Kert was cited as saying to ERR’s Vikerraadio. «Punishments ranged from fines to seven, eight-year prison sentences. The uneven application [of the law] and glacial speed of the courts caused a lot of confusion.»

Full article here

PLEA: a new economic crunch is probable but Lithuania can handle it

There are still no clear reasons to send calls of distress, but media, that one in the Baltics too, is abuzz – pundits say is a new economic downturn might not be far. Yet when it comes to assessing the scope of it, the predictions vary as much as the garden-variety experts.

According to analysts from investment bank JP Morgan, for example, the recession in two years’ time will be less damaging than the 2008 crash, yet U.S. shares could drop by 20 per cent, well below the 54 per cent tumble in the S&P 500 index a decade ago.

With the Baltic financial sector executives’ ears tuned to the more or less gloomier forecasts, Vilius Šapoka, the Lithuanian Minister of Finance, insists that one should be ready for anything, and for recession too, but as much important is «not to talk an illness into the body which is still pretty healthy».

«We always ought to get ready for hard times. In Lithuania, we have learnt good lessons from the 2008 economic meltdown and, for the third consecutive year, we are accumulating financial reserves. This is the first time in our history that we see it happening for three years in a row,» Šapoka said last week. «Equally important is not to talk an illness into yourself,» he added.

Mantas Zalatorius, president of Lithuania’s Association of Banks (LAB), is also confident that Lithuanian banks are very well prepared for any financial shake-ups ahead.

Full article here

DECISION: Corruption watchdog requests criminal prosecution of persons of illegal financing of political parties

Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has asked Prosecutor General’s Office to commence criminal prosecution of Jurmala Mayor Gatis Truksnis and businessman Jūlijs Krūmiņš for illegally financing the Union of Greens and Farmers. Krūmiņš is also accused of illegally financing For Latvia from the Heart.

According to the information from CPCB, Truksnis is asked to be prosecuted not only for illegally financing political parties but also forging and using forged documents.

Krūmiņš is asked to be prosecuted for two crimes associated with illegal financing of political parties.

Based on information reported by CPCB, it is assumed an official of Jurmala City Council had agreed with Krūmiņš on using a third person to illegally finance political parties during municipal elections.

Krūmiņš used his bank account to transfer large sums of money to political parties. Truksnis then informed Krūmiņš that ‘donations’ were not received. Krūmiņš contacted ‘supporters’ and their mediators and Jurmala City Council official, revealing the names of said ‘supporters’ and their associates.

Full article here

SAEIMA: 6 November – 13th Saeima’s first meeting

The 13th Saeima will gather for its first meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 November. Representatives of parties and associations elected to the Saeima had agreed on the meeting’s agenda beforehand, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

In accordance with rules detailed in the Constitution, the first meeting of the newly elected Saeima will be opened by 12th Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece. It is planned the President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis will also read a greeting speech to the new parliament.

The first order of business for the new Saeima is electing vote-counters and temporary Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee. Members of this committee check election materials and complaints regarding elections, if such were submitted to the Central Election Commission. This committee also prepares reports for the Saeima about approval of deputies’ authority, the parliament explains.

Full article here


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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian government approves rules for paying whistleblowers

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, November 14, rules for financially rewarding people who provide the authorities with valuable information on illegal activities.

BNN summary of the week: government formation in Latvia, Brexit plans, and Latvia’s 100th birthday

If someone hoped to see Latvia compile a government before the national holiday, they are going to be disappointed – three parties have decided to exit government formation talks headed by New Conservative Party. NCP’s prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns receive criticism for having too ambitious and expensive goals. NCP, on the other hand, says parties did not try to study the party’s offers.

PUC commences dispute between AS Gaso and natural gas consumer

On Friday, 16 November, Public Utilities Commission decided to commence a dispute procedure between a natural gas consumer and AS Gaso in regards to natural gas supplies, as confirmed by the commission.

Latvian parties continue informal talks while next prime minister is being picked

While President Raimonds Vējonis is busy picking the next prime minister candidate, politicians of different parties are performing informal consultations. No official consultations are currently planned.

UN's global migration compact stirs up Estonia's calm politics

The Estonian government has taken a long time to reach a unanimous position on the United Nation's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This has been criticised by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who has to attend a conference in favour of the document in Morocco in December.

Latvian authorities detain CityCommerce Bank co-owner accused of embezzlement

Reinis Tumovs, co-owner of Ukrainian CityCommerce Bank, has been detained in Latvia. He is suspected of embezzling nearly UAH 300 million (EUR 9.5 million), as confirmed by Ukrainian National Police Economy Protection Department on Thursday, 15 November.

Russia ordered to pay damages for Navalny's political arrests by human rights court

Russia has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to repay 64 000 euros in damages and costs for politically-motivated arrests of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Latvian president to consider Gobzems and Pabriks as perspective prime minister candidates

As parties’ efforts to form a new government continue, Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis plans to consider two new prime minister candidates – KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems and Attīstībai/Par! candidate Artis Pabriks.

EC wants to reduce funding for supplies of fruits, vegetables and milk to schools

European Commission’s proposed regulation on organization of agriculture products market provides for reducing EU funding for the support programme on provision of fruits, vegetables and milk for schools by EUR 29.2 million or the same as United Kingdom’s share.

Genocide verdicts handed to Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia

In Cambodia, the two most senior living leaders of the Khmer Rouge Communist regime have been found guilty of their role in the atrocities that resulted in the deaths of at least 1.7 million in Cambodia between 1977 and 1979.

Latvian parties pick candidates to work in Saeima committees

Parties elected to the 13th Saeima have picked representatives to work in the parliament’s standing committees. Final decision will be made 20 November. Harmony may be represented by deputies Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Attīstībai/Par! has picked Artis Pabriks, and Union of Greens and Farmers has picked Uldis Augulis.

EU leaders: No appetite for renegotiating Brexit deal

EU leaders have dismissed talk of renegotiating the draft Brexit deal and warned the UK's political situation could make a «no-deal» more likely.

Some rain expected for Latvia’s centenary; cold snap expected next week

The sky will become clear every now and then. Still, some rain is expected for the country’s centenary. Wet snow is expected in the country’s eastern regions. It will be dry in the country for the most part next week, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvian ministry plans to form Media Ethics Council and develop Latvian Media Ethics Code

Culture Ministry has proposed forming Media Ethics Council. The majority of institutions of the media industry have started working on a self-regulatory council and development of a Single Latvian Media Ethics Code, as reported by the ministry’s public relations office manager Lita Kokale.

Harmony picks representatives in Saeima’s committees

Nikolajs Kabanovs and Jānis Tutins may become Harmony’s representatives in Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee, whereas Valērijs Agešins may become the party’s representative in the National Security Committee.

Lithuania’s corruption buster: firms donating to hospitals stand better chance in tenders

The majority of the winners of the tenders organised by major Lithuanian hospitals have expressed their gratitude to the health providers by making donations to them in the form of financial support.

Employment level in Latvia reached 65.3% in Q3 2018

920.1 thousand people or 65.3 % of Latvia population aged 15–74 were employed in Q3 2018. Over the year, employment rate grew by 1.7 percentage points and number of employed persons by 17.2 thousand.

Unemployment level in Latvia was 7% in Q3 2018

In Q3 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.0 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points, while over the year by 1.5 percentage points.

AS PKL Flote enforces EUR 1.35 million from Riga Freeport authority in court

The Department of Civil Cases of the Supreme Court has ruled that the verdict of Riga Regional Court – one that penalized Riga Freeport authority for breach of Competition Law against PKL Flote – was correct. Now Riga Freeport has ten days, starting with 13 November, to pay the company EUR 1.35 million to cover damages caused by this violation, BNN was told by PKL Flote board chairman Sergejs Odincovs.

British government loses two more members; EU sets date for Brexit summit

In the UK government, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and Northern Ireland's junior minister have resigned in disagreement with the country's draft withdrawal agreement with the EU, already passed by the government.

Saeima deputy: data protection regulation will not protect «KGB associates»

Documents detailing KGB workers’ names, nationality, work place, participation in the Communist party are not covered by the Personal Data Protection Regulation, stresses Saeima deputy Ritvars Jansons from the National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’.

EP: Moldova and Georgia should continue initiated reforms

Members of the European Parliament welcome the reforms Georgia has commenced. At the same time, Moldova was criticized for its worsened state of democracy and rule of law, as reported by EP press-secretary in Latvia Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

Germany economy shrinks for first time in three years

Germany economy has contracted by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2018, a first such result in the largest economy of the European Union in over three years.

Latvian president gives parties holiday break to continue talks

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis calls off nomination of NCP candidate Jānis Bordāns to for government. Talks regarding the next prime minister candidate will continue after the state holiday.

Ireland satisfied with Brexit draft deal in every priority

The government of Ireland has stated that draft withdrawal agreement between Irish neighbour, the UK, and the European Union, Dublin had achieved a satisfying result in all its priorities, also regarding the border on the island of Ireland.

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