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Wednesday 24.04.2019 | Name days: Nameda, Visvaldis, Ritvaldis

BNN summary of the week: a new government in Latvia; hope for new ministers; EP election preparations

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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: Government; Conflict; Hope; EP Elections; Opinion; Agreement.

GOVERNMENT: Politicians discuss the pros and cons of Kariņš’s government

Latvian politicians have commenced preliminary debates before the vote on New Unity politician Arturs Krišjāņis Kariņš’s forming government’s approval. BNN offers the pros and cons provided by opposition deputies.

In his pre-vote speech, Kariņš said: «The 13th Saeima elections. What was the result? On the one hand people say there was no clarity, but on the other hand the nation has elected people in our nation. The people are our reflection. The key for our government is not fighting each other over power, but looking for common ground. One person cannot do much – we have to combine our forces.»

He also stressed the new government is prepared to look at every single proposal from the opposition. «We will not be the ones to reject proposals simply because they come from the opposition.»

Kariņš said there are seven topics the government will focus on: sorting of the financial system, strengthening of rule of law, continuation of previous government’s initiated healthcare and education reforms, abolishment of MPC system, territorial reformation and resolution of demographic problems.

«By accomplishing these tasks we will implement fiscal discipline principles and maintain a clear euro-Atlantic course,» he said.

Kariņš also mentioned in his speech that «our [Latvia’s] neighbour Russia has become aggressive», adding that «this presents a challenge not only for Latvia but the rest of the world as well».

Full article here

CONFLICT: Jurašs lawyer says raising charges is no longer possible due to statute of limitations

In accordance with requirements of the Criminal Process Law, the prosecutor is required to launch criminal prosecution within ten days of receiving materials of the criminal case from an investigative institutions – in this case State Security Service. However, in the case with Juris Jurašs, the prosecutor received materials of the case on 8 January, but this term is already passed, says Jurašs’ lawyer Aleksandrs Berezins.

He says if the Saeima decides in favour of allowing Jurašs’ criminal prosecution, the prosecutor is no longer able to make the decision on prosecuting him, because the term provided by the law has already run out.

The lawyer explains he does not understand the prosecutor’s decision «if he knows it is written black on white that he has ten days to submit the case to the committee. Now that he has missed the deadline, he [the prosecutor] wants to do something. This is what I am confused about,» says Berezins.

The State Security Service confirmed the criminal process was submitted to the prosecutor’s office on 8 January.

As it is known, the Prosecutor General’s Office to the Saeima in which it is requested to commence criminal prosecution of Jurašs for disclosing and official secret.

Full article here

HOPE: BATL hopes the new transport minister will put an end to ‘feasts’ at ports and LDz

Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics board member Ivars Landmanis says the industry expects the new transport minister in Latvia to sort things out to improve the industry’s international competitiveness. «This includes implementation of rather brave reforms for railway freight and port administration, which is something the industry has either not seen at all or something that has been implemented very poorly.»

Considering the commitment of Latvia’s new transport minister to implement objectives detailed in the government declaration, as well as his own professional work in the transport sector, BATL believes the minister could pull it off.

BATL stresses that the new minister should first and foremost establish a dialogue with representatives of all players in the industry, not maintain the same «dogs bark, caravan continues» approach. «I cannot comment on other transport sectors, but in transit sector, representatives of private companies – ones that attract cargoes and secure income for LDz and ports – are left ignored, their opinions are simply not taken into account. Current policy-makers, port administration and state capital associations largely continue pushing their own agenda and lobby it through different associations that represent them.»

BATL mentions the assessment of the work performed by LDz, considering indexes of recent years show that resource use and investments remain ineffective and continue having a negative effect on railway freight costs, as one of the main topical directions for work. «It is important to optimize costs, primarily putting an end to unrelated costs, such us sponsoring and advertisement projects. It should be reminded that LDz’s main function is ensuring modern and effective infrastructure and its maintenance, not cargo freight.»

Full article here

EP ELECTIONS: Harmony picks its main candidate for European Parliament elections

Harmony political party’s main candidate for European Parliament elections will be Saeima deputy and chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, as confirmed by Riga City Council Chairman Nils Ušakovs in an interview to LNT 900 seconds programme.

He said this decision was made by the party unanimously. The party has yet to decide on its other candidates.

‘I think this was the correct decision – he is a politician with a great deal of experience and is publicly well-known and supported,’ said Ušakovs.

As it is known, submission of candidate lists for the EP elections will be taking part from 6 March until 21 March.

Full article here

OPINION: Lembergs is not deserving of the 1991 Barricade Participant’s Commemorative Badge

«It still remains unclear where Chairman of Ventspils Executive Committee Aivars Lembergs was during the January 1991 barricades. He has yet to provide a clear answer. However, in spite of that, Lembergs is not shy to mention in his biography that he was awarded the 1991 Barricade Participant’s Commemorative Badge,» BNN was told by Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis.

He explains: «Like every year, commemorative events were organized in many parts of Latvia this January. Unfortunately, no such events were held in Ventsils, even though during the January 1991 barricades period this city was home to the United Self-Defence and Coordination Council, which helped organize and coordinate participation of hundreds of Ventspils residents in efforts to protect Latvia’s independence in Riga.»

«Aivars Lembergs’ participation in the 1991 barricades remains unknown to this day»

Without a doubt these historic events and Ventspils residents who stood guard during this decisive period of Latvia’s history deserve respect. Unfortunately, commemorative events in Ventspils are left with no attention year after year. It is possible the commemoration of 1991 Barricades and Ventspils residents who took part in it is forgotten because nothing is known about the activities of Aivars Lembergs during the 1991 Barricades period.

Considering the aforementioned, as well as the fact that to attract attention to and properly evaluate the participation of Ventspils residents in the January 1991 barricades need to be determined. Evaluation is also needed for certain facts about the involvement of Aivars Lembergs during this sensitive period of Latvia’s history.

Full article here

AGREEMENT: Latvia and Britain reach agreement over citizen status after Brexit

Latvia and Britain have reached a mutual agreement that in the event Britain exits the European Union without an agreement, the status of both countries’ citizens will not change after Brexit, said Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama.

He says a mutual agreement was reached on Monday, 21 January. However, official statements from the British government and Latvian Saeima are expected. «Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Committee has started working on it. Even after that we will still have many other matters to discuss, including law amendments. I don’t think things will go smoothly. Let’s be honest: it’s a process that cannot be properly predicted,» admits Rinkēvičs.

Full article here

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Medicines for people with mental disorders to become more accessible in Latvia

To improve accessibility of medicines for people suffering from psychological and behavioural disorders, Latvia’s government decided to expand the list of diagnoses eligible for state-compensated medicines on Tuesday, 23 April.

Belarus halts exports of low quality oil products to Baltics, other neighbours

Belarusian Oil Company has announced the temporary suspension of light oil products to the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine explaining that low-quality oil products have been supplied by Russia to Belarusian refineries.

Producer prices in Latvia: increase of 4.1% in March

Compared to March 2018, average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 4.1 % in March 2019. The level of prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 6.5 % and that of exported products – by 1.9 %.

Saeima deputy confident on the need to dismiss National Mass Media Council

Considering recent development, the National Electronic Mass Media Council should be dismissed, says head of Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee Artuss Kaimiņš.

Estonian President continues to meet with ministerial candidates

As outgoing Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' is likely to form his second government with the controversial Conservative People's Party of Estonia and the national-conservative Pro Patria, Estonian President is meeting with his ministerial candidates.

Teachers demand from Latvia’s ministry specific amendments to regulations

Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees sent a letter to Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry on Tuesday, 23 April. In it, representatives demand strict guarantees and specific amendments to regulations to ensure increase of wages for teachers in accordance with the schedule.

Catalonia – key issue in Spanish pre-election debate

As Spain nears its early general election on Sunday, April 28, its outgoing Prime Minister faced criticism from his opponents over Catalonia's secession crisis.

Latvian minister orders closure of Deglava Bridge in Riga

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens has ordered State Police to close down Deglava Bridge starting with Thursday, 25 April.

Sri Lanka death toll rises. Authorities had been warned about possible attacks

In Sri Lanka, the number of people killed in attacks on churches and hotels has reached 290 people, while it has been revealed that national authorities had been warned about possible attacks.

Road construction company Binders to attract workers from Ukraine and Belarus

Latvian road construction company SIA Binders experiences a shortage of workers. Because of that, the company plans to attract guest workers from Ukraine and Belarys, says Bindars board chairman Aigars Sēja.

Ukrainian presidential election won by Zelensky on hopes of change

The run-off of the Ukrainian presidential election has been won by comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, who has promised change and better relations with Russia.

Air temperature to reach +23° C in Latvia this week

Dry weather will remain in most of Latvia this week. The sun will shine often and there will be slow eastern and south-eastern wind. However, strong wind is expected to come on Wednesday, 24 April, and precipitation is expected at the end of the week.

Forevers: 615 tonnes of grilled meat was consumed in Latvia last year

615 tonnes of meat products for grilling was sold in Latvia in 2018, according to sales data from meat processing company Forevers.

Every day hens in Latvia produce an egg for every resident

The number of laying hens in Latvia, when compared to 2017, had increased 19.2% in 2018, reaching 3 million, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. Compared to the previous year, the total number of domestic birds has increased 9.3%, reaching 5.4 million, which is the largest index since 1992.

73% of residents believe they benefit from Latvia’s membership in EU

Approximately 73% of residents believe Latvia benefits from membership in the European Union. Interviewed residents mainly outline job opportunities, economic growth and security, according to the latest data compiled by Eurobarometer.

General government budget deficit in Latvia reached EUR 295.4 million last year

In 2018 general government budget deficit accounted for EUR 295.4 million or 1 % of the Gross Domestic Product and general government consolidated gross debt amounted to EUR 10.6 billion or 35.9 % of the GDP.

Egils Levits optimistic about his chances becoming Latvia’s president

Presidential candidate and European Court of Justice Judge Egils Levits is optimistic about his chances of becoming Latvia’s next president.

Estonia’s government to be formed by standing Prime Minister Jüri Ratas

On Thursday, 17 April, Estonia’s parliament entrusted formation of the country’s government to Centre Party’s chairman and standing Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

At least 29 die as German tourist bus runs off road in Portugal

At least 29 people were killed and 27 were injured when a German tourist bus ran off the road on Madeira Island in Portugal, as reported by BBC.

EY: businessmen show very positive outlook towards global economy

The latest Ernst&Young EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer reveals a generally optimistic outlook businessmen have around the world – 93% of interviewed company CEOs believe the economic situation in the world is steadily improving. The same opinion was voiced by 73% of interviewed CEOs last year.

Orkla Latvija signs contract for construction of Laima manufacturing plant in Ādaži

On Wednesday, 17 April, Orkla Latvia signed a contract worth EUR 8.9 million with construction company Merks on the construction of a Laima manufacturing plant in Ādaži, BNN was told by Orkla Latvija representative Lineta Mikša.

As police arrive, Peru’s ex-president commits suicide

Ex-president of Peru Alan García committed suicide on Wednesday, 17 April, when police arrived to arrest him for corruption.

Estonia’s president to meet with Putin; the two will discuss Baltic security

On Thursday, 18 April, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will meet with Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Europe’s borders to be reinforced – a specialist corps to be formed by 2027

On Wednesday, 17 April, the European Parliament approved a new law to strengthen Europe’s border and coast guard, as reported by EP representative in Latvia Signe Znotiņa-Znota.

Latvian residents engage in marriages more often than before

Over the past three years the number of registered marriages has risen slightly. In 2018, 13.4 thousand marriages were registered, which is 200 marriages more than in 2017 when the increase recorded over the year constituted 148 marriages.