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Tuesday 16.07.2019 | Name days: Hermīne, Estere
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BNN summary of the week: Britain in tight spot; citizenship for all and Latvia's poor progress

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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: Change; Progress; Rejection; Conflict; Idea; Opinion; Delay.

CHANGE: Latvian president proposes giving citizenship to all children born in Latvia

Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis has submitted to the Saeima a legislative draft On Ceasing Provision of Non-Citizen Status to Children. This draft suggests giving children born to non-citizen parents Latvian citizenship upon birth starting from 1 January 2020 unless parents have decided on giving their child citizenship of another country, as reported by State President’s Chancellery.

«Every child born in Latvia should be given state citizenship. The country should provide conditions to prevent further issue of non-citizen status, because the initial goal behind non-citizen status was not preserving it for all indefinitely. It was a temporary status for people to decide if they want Latvian or any other country’s citizenship,» said the president.

In the annotation to the legislative draft the president mentions: «Abolishment of the non-citizen status issue for children is a symbolic step towards prevention of further fracturing of Latvia’s society and further consolidate forces for our country’s development.»

Full article here

PROGRESS: Latvia has not accomplished with reduction of inequality

In the past seven years Latvia’s government has not properly implemented the recommendations provided by the European Commission on reduction of inequality, European Anti-Poverty Network’s EAPN-Latvia board chairperson Laila Balga told LNT programme 900 seconds on Thursday, 21 March.

She said that Latvia received recommendations from the European Commission on ways of reducing inequality and balancing income as early as 2012. However, these recommendations were not taken into account by the Latvian government.

The expert says inequality is on a rise in spite of the general development trends. Currently the level of wealth of the richest residents is seven times larger than the level of wealth of the poorest residents.

Balga also says when compared to the rest of Europe, Latvia has the third most marginalized society income-wise.

Full article here

REJECTION: Comparing abortions to killing affects Estonian government talks

After figures of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) compared abortion to killing of people, the party’s partners in coalition talks have voiced criticism.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that on Thursday, March 21, Prime Minister and Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas wrote on social media that the conservatives should stop blaming doctors and women for abortions.

«Blaming gynecologists and women for incredibly difficult but deeply personal decisions is unacceptable. (..) This has to end. Unfortunately, the debate over such a personal and sensitive topic as abortion has groundlessly hurt a great many people,» the prime minister continued.

Full article here

CONFLICT: Teachers’ protest in Riga gathers 2,000 people

The protest act organized by Latvian teachers outside the Saeima building in Riga gathered approximately 2,000 people, according to Latvian public media.

According to local media, at first there were about 1,000 people participating. Around 10:00, however, their numbers had doubled.

Protesters held in their hands posters and balloons, demanding respect for their profession and higher wages from the government. At the end of the protest act those balloons were sent up in the air.

Full article here

IDEA: Ruling LFGU’s presidential hopeful Skvernelis unveils key foreign policy points

Lagging in the presidential polls behind the frontrunner Gitanas Nausėda and MP Ingrida Šimonytė, Lithuania’s prime minister Saulius Skvernelis, the presidential hopeful of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, LFGU, is ready to move heaven and earth in attracting voters on his side.

Some of his proposals, like converting a nuclear power plant in Belarus’ Astravyets, just 50 kilometres away from Lithuanian capital Vilnius, into an ordinary gas-fuelled heat and power plant, have already triggered major firestorms, internationally too.

Yet the resilient former-policeman- turned-prime-minister-and-the-presidential-candidate-now does not show signs of slowing down and swimming with the tide churned up by the other two candidates above him.

This week Skvernelis unveiled his foreign policy program as the candidate and, right, it raised eye-brows of many.

Swinging at Dalia Grybauskaitė, who is about to end her term as Lithuania’s head-of-state, Skvernelis claimed that, under his presidency, only national and consensus-based foreign policies will be implemented.

«Not a personal foreign policy,» he said, hinting of Grybauskaitė’s unwillingness to consult foreign affairs pundits.

Full article here

OPINION: Latvia needs representatives in EP the country can be proud of

«Latvian voters should keep in mind that Latvia is represented by only eight members in the European Parliament. It is vital to find candidates we would not be ashamed of. There is no other recipe – if you want to affect the composition of the European Parliament, it is important to remember that results from votes. Nothing will change if we stand on the sidelines,» said Latvian Culture Minister and MEP candidate Dace Melbārde in an interview to BNN.

«I was surprised to see that many European Parliament candidates are not associated with politics»

Latvia’s Culture Minister Dace Melbārde (National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’) is a candidate for European Parliament Elections 2019. She says «it is time to try something new». «I am in favour of rotating officials in posts. People should change jobs every now and then. Sitting in one place, drowning in routine eventually forces a person to notice the time has come for change.» She says this is necessary «to ensure dynamic progress and motivation to accomplish more».

When asked by BNN who could replace her as Latvia’s Culture Minister if she is elected in the European Parliament, Melbārde said: «I have some potential candidates picked out, but it is too soon to speak of this.»

The minister said it was a surprise for her to see among candidates for the European Parliament people who are not associated with politics. As for her colleague, so to speak, Ansis Pūpols, who is a former and not-so-former journalist from Nekā personīga and his decision to submit his candidacy in spite of the fact that the two professions are incompatible based on the journalist code of ethics, she said the following: «What he should do is draw a clear line when he becomes a politician and stops being a journalist. Those are two incompatible fields.»

Full article here

DELAY: EU postpones British withdrawal to April 12 or May 22

The United Kingdom has been given two extra weeks by the European Union to decide for the third time on its withdrawal agreement and to leave on April 12 if it is not passed or to leave on May 22 if it is passed.

British news portal The Guardian reports that in long talks on Thursday, March 21, agreed to delay the exit deadline of March 29.

Under the deal agreed by May, Britain will now stay a member state until April 12 if the withdrawal agreement is rejected by the British Parliament at the third time of asking.

At the same time, the UK government will be able to seek a longer extension during that period if it can both «indicate a way forward» and agree to hold European elections.

Full article here


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Bribery accused LU vice-rector applied with major restrictions

Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has applied restrictions for bribery accused University of Latvia vice-rector Baiba Broka. She is prohibited from working in the university’s procurement commission, as well as making decisions associated with control and supervision.

EU: Violations of Iran nuclear deal can still be reversed

European Union’s foreign ministers have concluded in a meeting on relations with Iran that the uranium enrichment carried out by Tehran breaching the Iran nuclear deal this summer is not significant.

Welfare Ministry requests EUR 54 million for welfare priorities in Latvia

Next year’s welfare priorities in Latvia will require additional funding of EUR 54 million, says Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča.

Von der Leyen resigns as German minister before EP vote on her heading EC

Shortly before the Tuesday’s vote in the European Parliament on the candidacy of Ursula von der Leyen, the German Defence Minister has announced her resignation from the German federal government.

Pork prices in Latvia increase 10.5% over the course of a month

In May 2019, pork prices in Latvia increased 10.5% when compared to April and were 33.1% higher when compared to May 2018, according to data compiled by Latvian Agriculture Ministry’s Market and Direct Support Department.

Latvia’s finance market supervisor applies one million euro fine to Rigensis Bank

Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission has decided to apply a fine of one million euros to Rigensis Bank AS for violating money laundering and terrorism financing prevention regulations, as confirmed by the commission.

Latvia’s Competition Council issues six warnings for possible cartel activity

In the first half-year of 2019, Latvia’s Competition Council organized six warnings to ten businesses and five private persons for possible involvement in cartels.

Estonian expedition Antarctica 200 leaves for six-month journey

Marking 200 years since the discovery of the Antarctic, a group of Estonian-lead explorers have left for the six-month sea journey to the world’s southern-most continent.

Balticovo: eggs of caged hens will gradually disappear from shelves

Eggs from caged hens will likely disappear from Europe’s shelves in time, predicts egg and egg product manufacturing company Balticovo council chairman Valdis Grimze.

Latvia’s Taxi Drivers Register has around 6 000 drivers; 114 have been excluded from it

Since June 2018, when the Taxi Drivers Register was adopted, nearly 6 000 drivers have registered with it, whereas more than 100 drivers have been excluded from it, as reported by the Road Transport Directorate.

President: Latvianness is intended for everyone

Latvianness is intended for everyone, said Latvia’s President Egils Levits in an interview to public broadcaster LNT programme 900 seconds in regards to ways of reducing societal split.

Deadly plane crash in Sweden could take year to be solved

After Sweden’s leisure plane crash that took the lives of nine people over the weekend, authorities could take a year to determine the cause of the tragedy.

Fifth break announced in trial of Jelgava Hospital bribery case

The trial in the bribery case involving Jelgava Hospital manager Andris Ķipurs has been put on hold for the fifth time, the court reported.

Von de Leyen seeks to secure MEP support to head European Commission

Member state nominee for the top job of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, has spent two weeks seeking to ensure support from members of the European Parliament to her candidacy to the post the president of the European Commission.

Warmth to gradually return to Latvia this week: upwards of +25 C expected

This week, rain will be observed in at least one of Latvia’s regions. Nevertheless, warmer masses of air will also flow into the country, making air temperature reach +25° C.

NATO’s right to deploy in Latvia in crisis situations to be outlined in legislation

In the event of crisis situations NATO forces will be able to deploy in Latvia from beyond its border, as provided by amendments to the Latvian State Border Law the government will discuss on 16 July.

Trump’s war powers on Iran limited by U.S. Congress

U.S. President Donald Trump’s powers to potentially take his country to war with Iran have been blocked by American legislators setting forth congressional authorization to such a move. Tensions between the to countries have escalated since early June.

Week in Lithuania: Nausėda, a new President, inaugurated, Skvernelis stays as PM, mayor handcuffed

Last week, Kaunas marked 75th anniversary of ghetto liquidation, Nausėda presented his team, MPs initiated simpler MP mandate revocation procedures.

BNN summary of the week: new presidents; radio station rings alarm; bribery at LU

Last week, Egils Levits officially became President of the Republic of Latvia. For his first foreign visit, he picked Estonia, where he met with the country’s president Kersti Kaljulaid. The week also marked the end for Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s era in the country, as economist Gitanas Nausėda successfully took her place.

Latvia’s industrial output growth reportedly the most rapid among Baltics

Industrial production output in Latvia in May 2019 when compared to the same period of 2018 has increased 1.7%, which is a more rapid growth rate than the average in the EU, according to data published by Eurostat.

Riga’s ex-mayor to report to corruption watchdog about change of residence

The suspect in the criminal case regarding several procurement projects of Riga municipality’s public transport company Rīgas satiksme, former mayor of Riga and newly-elected European Parliament member Nils Ušakovs has been applied with a security measure – the need to report change of residence to authorities.

Bribery accused National Alliance member leaves party but stays in Riga City Council

Suspended vice-rector in University of Latvia Baiba Broka has decided to temporarily cease working in the National Alliance «All for Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK». At the same time, however, she has no plans to step down from her post in Riga City Council.

Gitanas Nausėda officially becomes President of Lithuania

On Friday, 12 July, Lithuania’s newly-elected President Gitanas Nausėda is giving his solemn vow, taking the reins from previous president Dalia Grybauskaitė, who remained in this post for ten years.

Latvia’s Education Ministry spots problems with LU rector’s election process

Education and Science Ministry has uncovered multiple violations committed in the recent election of the rector for the University of Latvia. It is likely that the standing rector Indriķis Muižnieks will not be approved, as reported by TV3 News on Thursday, 11 July.

Estonian businessman Ossinovski donates to son's Social Democratic party

Estonian businessman mired in corruption scandals Olegs Ossinovski had donated EUR 25 000 to Estonia’s Social Democratic Party when his son Jevgeni Ossinovski was the party’s chair.