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Tuesday 17.07.2018 | Name days: Aleksejs, Aleksis
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BNN summary of the week: Baltics thankful to USA; transit industry’s risks; CPCB’s latest search

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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: Meeting; Opinion; Change; Fight; Response; Growth.

MEETING: Baltic-U.S. summit has removed doubt about U.S. support

The leadership of Estonian parliamentary committees has commented that at the Baltic-U.S. summit meeting in Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump has removed doubt about the seriousness of American commitment to Baltic security.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports on Wednesday, April 4, that Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu Hannes Hanso evaluated: «Trump very seriously addressed first the history of how the U.S. never recognized the Soviet occupation of Estonia, through what our relationships as allies are today. (..) He also said that he is very much looking forward to the next 100 years of our good and close allied relationship.»

Full article here

OPINION: Russia’s missile-firing tests should be approached with a cool head

«Discussions of Russia’s planned missile-firing tests above Latvia’s exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea are going very intensely in the public space. A great deal of attention is provided to this matter. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these tests have a clear propaganda role, so we should approach them with a cool head,» says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Intensive discussions of Russia’s planned missile-firing tests in the public space can be considered a success of Russia’s propaganda, says the minister.

The politician reminded that Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has asked ambassadors to NATO and OCSE to present this matter for discussions during the next meeting.

Foreign Affairs Ministry underlines that international laws allow organizing such military exercises. It is also the duty of Latvia’s Civil Aviation Agency to ensure safety of passing aircraft. Institutions responsible for maritime security also have a duty to ensure there are no ships passing through the area while military exercises are underway.

«It is not a matter of someone giving permission. International laws allow countries to organize military exercises. The fact that Russia’s planned missile-firing tests are provocative and intimidating has been confirmed by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis and officials from Defence Ministry,» said the politician.

Full article here

CHANGE: liberalization of the gas market has increased competition among traders

An open gas market has increased safety for supplies, energy independence and competition among traders, as noted by Economy Ministry.

Tuesday, 3 April, marked one year since the opening of Latvia’s gas market for free competition.

«Looking back at the development of Latvia’s natural gas market, I believe the most important factor of success was the wholesale trade price of gas. Latest statistics from the European Commission shows that Latvia concluded 2017 with one of the lowest wholesale gas price in the European Union – 17.11 EUR/MWh. This price is also the lowest in the Baltic Sea region, and even lower than the price in Germany,» comments Latvia’s Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

It is also mentioned that the change has also created conditions for development of competition among traders. It has also helped increase security of gas supplies and Latvia’s energy independence. It has also helped strengthen Europe’s gas market, said the minister.

«To preserve competitiveness of natural gas, it is necessary to continue moving towards a unified Baltic and Finnish gas market,» says Ašeradens.

The ministry reports that competition has increased among gas traders over the course of the year. Their numbers now reach 35 in Latvia.

«We have also separated gas transmission and storage functions from Latvia’s gas monopolist Latvijas Gāze. Those functions are now performed by Conexus Baltic Grid. The transmission system is now managed by Gaso,» the ministry notes.

Full article here

DECLINE: Corruption watchdog performs searches at Latvian State Roads

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has performed searches at Latvian State Roads, as confirmed by the company’s representatives.

Searches were performed on Wednesday, 4 April. Latvian State Roads representatives could not explain the reason why CPCB decided to perform searches in the company.

Representatives say none of the company’s employees were arrested.

LTV reports that Anastasija Udalova, board member of Latvian State Roads, has submitted her resignation. Her decision to step down was motivated by family affairs.

So far it has not been possible to contact CPCB to find out if searches are associated with any criminal process. The Criminal Process Law states that a search is an investigative act intended to locate important evidence or documents for an ongoing criminal process.

Full article here

FIGHT: transit decline is a threat to social security

Baltic Association – Transit and Logistics President Inga Antāne has turned to members of the European Parliament in Latvia and EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis with an open letter, asking the European Commission to take measures to protect Europe’s ports by providing support programmes similar to other sectors.

She says that a situation when the cargo crisis caused by Russia’s decision to divert its cargoes to its own ports is allowed to increase social inequality in Latvia, which can have equal political, economic and social risks, cannot be allowed.

«Poverty and social inequality can be a serious threat the country’s democracy. Such a serious crisis in the transit industry cannot possible have no effect on the social sector. This is why we invite MEPs as Latvia’s representatives and ambassadors in the European Parliament to promote this matter on the level of the European Commission to help strengthen Europe’s external ports by providing support programmes to help them recover previous cargo volumes. Such a support programme would help divert cargoes from other ports or help attract new cargoes. Similar support programmes have been introduced in other industries to help reduce unemployment. In Latvia’s case it is important to ensure social security and reduce the country’s dependence on Russia,» comments Antāne.

Full article here

RESPONSE: NATO Secretary General says alliance doesn’t want a new arms race with Russia

NATO does not want a new arms race with Russia, says the alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, adding that relations between the two sides are already tense after the poisoning of the former double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK.

«We don’t want a new arms race, so we are focused on how can we respond” in a “firm strong predictable, but also measured and defensive, way,» Stoltenberg told reporters in Ottawa alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

«We don’t want a new Cold War,» he added.

«We will continue to strive for a more constructive relationship with Russia,» Stoltenberg concluded.

Full article here

GROWTH: Healthcare reform allegedly helped reduce patient queues by 42%

As a result of the recent healthcare reform, patient queues to specialists have reduced by an average of 42%. Nevertheless, wait lists to some specialists remain quite long, says Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša.

The largest queues for physical examinations have reduced by 33%, whereas queues for services in day-care centres have reduced by 68%, said the minister, adding that queues for day-care centre services were the largest before the reform. The average wait time for queues was 407 days on average before the reform. The wait time has been reduced to 132 days on average at the beginning of 2018.

The minister admits that waiting time for day-care centres remains long, reaching 500 days for some services. For example, the waiting line for a consultation with an ophthalmologist in Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital’s Bikernieki day-care centre used to be 5,000 days and is now 560 days (a decline of 89%).

Čakša believes accomplished results – the noticeable reduction of queues – show that the reform’s chosen direction is correct. «I feel satisfied, because the main aspects – accessibility of healthcare services and doctors’ wages – have been successfully realized,» said the minister.

Full article here


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Languages «a must-have». An interview with ex-president about political market methods and communist approach

There are two ways a political market is realized during closed presidential elections: one involves approval of candidates in exchange for votes, and the other – for money. If it’s the latter, it is best for no one to know how elections are performed. Harmony, which now stays quiet about open elections, has always been against this proposal, because it does not allow for creating a political market – sale of votes in exchange for influence, which has been done before...

Migration from Baltics, Eastern Europe to UK lowest in years

Migration to the UK from the Baltics and other member states of the European Union has been the lowest it has been for nearly four years in 2017, Britain's official statistics show.

Putin in Helsinki denies U.S. election meddling, Trump doesn't object

At the Russia-U.S. summit Helsinki, a key development has been differences in the attitude by U.S. federal officials to Russian interference in the American election process. Days after Washington charged 12 Russians with hacking the computer systems of U.S. officials, U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted the denial of Russian responsibility expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Stock exchange indexes showing varied trends; oil prices decline

Stock exchange indexes in USA and Europe showed varied trends on Monday, 16 July. Bank profit rise was reported for Q2.

Rezekne Council deputies will not be penalized for releasing newspaper in Russian language

The court has lifted fines previously applied by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on nine deputies of Rezekne City Council for releasing a newspaper produced by the council in Russian language in addition to Latvian.

Volume of imported petrol in Latvia down 2% in five months

The volume of motor fuel imported to Latvia in the first five months has declined 2% in comparison with the same period of 2017. The volume of diesel fuel has declined 14.9%.

Corruption watchdog ends case about Bi-2 concert in Riga

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau ended in May the case regarding possible misuse of administrative resources on pre-election promotion by Riga City Council in the form of a free Bi-2 concert in Lucavsala.

Thailand's rescued boys honour casualty of 17-day rescue operation

In Thailand, a 12 boys trapped in a cave have been rescued in a rescue operation that lasted for 17 days and ended with one casualty, a rescue diver.

Latvian political party Progresīvie to nominate women as candidate list leaders

Latvia political party Progresīvie has revealed its list of candidates for 13th Saeima elections. Five women have been stated as leaders of candidate lists.

Estonia earns 150 000 euros from military evaders annually

Estonian compulsory military service is evaded by about 1 000 young men each year, who have to pay fines that annually exceed the combined total of 150 000 euros.

Chairman: FCMC’s competence should end with termination of licenses if banks are liquidated

In the event of liquidation or insolvency, Finance and Capital Market Commission’s competence should end with revoking affected banks’ license and without the need to appoint an administrator, says FCMC chairman Pēters Putniņš.

Minister: Latvia may terminate MPC system in the next three years

In the next three years or so Latvia could completely terminate the mandatory procurement component system, said Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.

In pictures: French victory in World Cup celebrated by tens of thousands in Paris

After the football World Cup was won by the French national team on Sunday, an enormous crowd of people gathered in central Paris to celebrate.

Another case of African swine fever infection recorded for domestic pigs in Latvia

African swine fever infection was recorded for domestic pigs in Tērvete on Monday, 16 July. 16 pigs were liquidated because of the infection, as reported by Food and Veterinary Service.

MEP Artis Pabriks becomes political party «Attīstībai/Par!» prime minister candidate

Latvian political party «Attīstībai/Par!» has picked Daniels Pavļuts, Juris Pūce, Ilze Viņķele, Artis Pabriks and Mārtiņš Bondars as its regional candidate list leaders. Artis Pabriks will also be the party’s prime minister candidate.

Russian-U.S. presidents meet in Helsinki

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting on Monday in Helsinki.

Heat of up to +30° C expected in Latvia this week

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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania's Tripartite Council fails to reach agreement

Lithuania's Tripartite Council on Tuesday, July 10, failed to reach agreement on raising the minimum wage. Employers are inclined to back the government's proposal to raise the minimum pay to 420 euros. Meanwhile, trade unions want it increased to 450 euros.

BNN summary of the week: NATO to increase and ABLV Bank loses its license

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Future; Deal; Fight; Decline; Decision; Opinion.

SEB Bank to unite life insurance companies working in Baltic States

SEB Bank will unite life insurance companies working in Baltic States, BNN was told by SEB Bank’s representative Agnese Strazda.

Saeima deputy Askolds Kļaviņš becomes suspect in criminal case

Saeima deputy from the Union of Greens and Farmers Askolds Kļaviņš has been made a suspect in the criminal case regarding abuse of official power.

Minister: E-health system has stabilized, but improvements are still needed

Functionality of the E-health portal has stabilized. Disconnection errors have ceased. Nevertheless, we have to continue improving the system further, said Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša said in an interview to Rīta panorama programme of LTV.

Six to eight Finance and Capital Market Commission officials may work at ABLV Bank

Six to eight FCMC trusties may work at the liquidated ABLV Bank, says Finance and Capital Market Commission chairman Pēters Putniņš.

Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers receives expanded draft on deposit system

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers an expanded legislative draft regarding amendments to the Packaging Law and Environment Protection Law for their review in the State Chancellery, as confirmed by the ministry’s representatives.

Latvia will not escape talks on increasing defence spending

It is necessary to develop Latvia’s defensive capabilities. Because of that, Latvia cannot escape talks on increasing defence spending to more than 2% of GDP, said Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis, who is participating in the NATO summit in Brussels.