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Tuesday 19.02.2019 | Name days: Zane, Zuzanna
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BNN summary of the week: government formation in Latvia, Brexit plans, and Latvia’s 100th birthday

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIf 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.

Now it seems the national holiday will pass with talks from political parties, while President Raimonds Vējonis decides between nominating either Aldis Gobzems or Artis Pabriks as Latvia’s next prime minister.

The situation was tense abroad as well this week – criticizing Brexit agreement, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office lost four members, thereby increasing the number of ministers who have left the office in the past two years to twenty.

Still, the week in Latvia will conclude on a festive note, after all – the country celebrates 100 years since its foundation. This date marks a milestone for Latvia’s accomplishments and look towards the future. Congratulations!

PRIORITIES: EP says 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.

The European Parliament approved two resolutions, in which implementation of associations agreements with Moldova and Georgia are covered, says Znotiņa-Znota.

MEPs welcome the reforms implemented by Georgia and the progress achieved with the association agreement. It is stressed that EU has become Georgia’s largest trade partners and the largest source of direct foreign investments.

This is why MEPs invite Georgian authorities to ensure stability and continuation of reforms to improve residents’ economic and social conditions. High levels of corruption in the country, problems with independence of the court justice system, human rights, use of media for political purposes and nature protection remain the chief concerns when it comes to Georgia, the resolution mentions.

MEPs also regretted seeing Russia continue occupying territories that belong to Georgia. MEPs once again voiced support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Full article here

ORDER: 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.

«I expect parties to use this time to continue consultations and look for common ground,» said the president.

Immediately after the holiday Vējonis will meet with KPV LV prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems and Attīstībai/Par! prime minister candidate Artis Pabriks to discuss with them their vision for the government formation process.

The order with which the president’s nomination of Bordāns is void will be signed by Vējonis on Thursday, 15 November.

The President’s Chancellery admits that Bordāns informed the president about the progress with the formation of the government on Wednesday, 14 November. He admitted no longer seeing any options to form the government and secure majority Saeima support.

Full article here

CORRUPTION: 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.

The scheme spans at least 10 major Lithuanian hospitals, including the Santaros Clinics in Vilnius, the Kaunas Clinics in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, and the main hospitals in the towns of Panevėžys and Šiauliai. The corrupt dealings were revealed this by Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service (STT) this week.

According to it, supporters of hospitals or related associations have a clear edge in winning public procurement tenders. There have been a number of cases of the kind, according to STT.

That Lithuanian hospitals favour certain suppliers has long been a topic of the rumour mill, and the media too, however only now STT, the corruption watchdog, is ringing alarm bells.

Asked about the timing, Renata Endružytė, the Communications head of the Service, told BNN that STT commences a probe only when it has gathered «sufficient evidence” of a corrupt activity.

«The Service has been gathering the evidence in form of different data for the last couples of years,» she accentuated.

Full article here

DESIRE: 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.

New Unity will be represented by Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš, National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ – Rihards Kols and Dace Melbārde, KPV LV – Didzis Šmits, and New Conservative Party – Linda Ozola.

For the National Security Committee Harmony has picked Valērijs Agešins, AP – Daniels Pavļuts, UGF – Māris Kučinskis, New Unity – Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, National Alliance – Ināra Mūrniece, KPV LV – Aldis Gobzems, and NCP – Juris Jurašs.

Harmony has also picked Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, Igors Pimenovs and Ļubov Švecova to represent the party in the Budget and Finance (Taxation) Committee, AP has picked Mārtiņš Bondars and Juris Pūce, UGf has picked Dana Reizniece-Ozola and Janīna Jalinska, New Unity – Edgars Rinkēvičs, National Alliance – Ilze Indriksone and Aleksandrs Kiršteins, KPV LV – Ramona Petraviča and Atis Zakatistovs, NCP – Gatis Eglītis and Reinis Znotiņš.

For the Legal Affairs Committee Harmony has picked Agešins and Jūlija Stepaņenko, AP – Vita Anda Tēraude, UGF – Gundars Daudze, New Unity – Lībiņa-Egnere, National Alliance – Ritvars Jansons, KPV LV – Ralfs Nemiro and Gobzems, NCP – Juta Strīķe and Jānis Bordāns.

Full article here

BREXIT: 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.

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party said on Thursday Prime Minister Theresa May had no authority left after her Brexit minister Dominic Raab resigned.

French news agency AFP reported that Raab, who had been in place since July, resigned less than an hour after Shailesh Vara quit as a junior Northern Ireland minister over the draft accord.

British-Canadian news agency Reuters cited an announcement by the team of the British Labour Party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn as evaluating: «This is the twentieth minister to resign from Theresa May’s government in her two year premiership. Theresa May has no authority left and is clearly incapable of delivering a Brexit deal that commands even the support of her Cabinet – let alone parliament and the people of our country».

British public broadcaster BBC reported that head of the European Union Council, Donald Tusk stated on Thursday, that member states would have 48 hours to evaluate the draft agreement and their leaders would then convene on November 25 to give their final approval «if nothing extraordinary happens».

Full article here

CELEBRATION:

This year Latvia celebrates its one hundredth birthday. The Republic of Latvia was proclaimed in Riga City Second Theatre, which is now known as Latvia’s National Theatre, on 18 November 1918.

Residents and guests to the country, as well as people all over the world congratulate Latvia. Canada has even decided to light the Niagara Falls with colours of Latvia’s flag. The team at BNN also extends their heartfelt congratulations to every person in the world who finds Latvia dear!


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  1. Günther Tombal/The Netherlands says:

    I wish Latvia all the best for the future and hope it will bring happiness and
    prosperity to its people !

Tele2 turnover up 5%; EUR 20 million to be allocated for investments

Turnover of mobile communications operator Tele2 in 2018 grew by 5%. This year the company plans to increase investment volumes by allocating an additional amount of EUR 20 million, of which EUR 15 million will be diverted to mobile network infrastructure, says Tele2 representative Oskars Fīrmanis.

More instability during Brexit in UK parliament as Labour Party loses members

More instability in the British parliament during the troublesome Brexit process has been created by seven legislators leaving the Labour Party in protest at its approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

Transport Minister: there is never anyone responsible for critical situations with ports

«To change the situation with Latvia’s port system, the most serious obstacle is reforming public associations into state capital associations. The problem is that in critical situations with ports, whenever we need someone responsible for decisions, we see the following – many duties and rights, but no responsibility...

Control Service: Latvia’s focus solely on banking sector’s «cleaning» is not enough

Economic crimes are not crimes in which there are no victims. It is exactly the opposite – the entire society is the victim. Latvia’s focus on ‘cleaning’ the banking sector is absolutely not enough to sort things out – economic crimes are not possible without corruption, says Anti-Money Laundering Service’s Chief Ilze Znotiņa.

Competition for Lithuanian president increased by EU Commissioner Andriukaitis

Lithuanian politician Vytenis Andriukaitis, who is the current EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, has stated he would be a candidate in the Lithuanian presidential election.

Latvian oligarchs set their sights on Russian freight transit in Lithuania

It seems former Latvian political heavyweights Ainārs Šlesers and Andris Šķēle have set their sights on Kaliningrad with intention to make some easy money in spite of warnings from Latvian, Lithuanian and other countries’ security services regarding this territory owned by the Russian Federation. The two eccentric businessmen have founded a company that employs Lithuanian and Latvian railway company heads held suspect of corruption, as reported by TV3 programme Nekā personīga.

Estonian newspapers go against paid advertising in municipal publications

Estonian press, united by the Estonian Newspaper Association, is convinced there is a need for law prohibiting local governments from selling ad space in their informative publications and thus compete against local and regional newspapers. The chairman of the Estonian Newspaper Association added that the organisation signed an agreement in 2018 with the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities.

Ex-KNAB chief’s criminal case develops – lawyer and ex-KNAB worker detained

Latvian police suspect ex-Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s chief Normunds Vilnītis, ex-KNAB worker Andrejs Vasiļevičs and lawyer Ieva Ramiņa of taking bribes, TV3 programme Nekā personīga.

Facebook has proved dangerous to democracy, believe British legislators

Social media giant Facebook and other large tech firms should be subjected to a compulsory code of ethics to combat the spread of fake news, the mistreatment of users' data and using their dominance over smaller firms, have suggested members of the British Parliament.

U.S. asks EU to admit back 800 Islamic State militants from Syria

As the U.S. announced «pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory» in Syria, U.S. President Donald Trump has said countries of the European Union must admit back their 800 fighters of the Islamic State terrorist group captured in north-west Syria and bring them to justice.

Latvian municipalities given until September to submit school network development plans

Latvian municipal administrations have been given time until September to compile and submit to the Education and Science Ministry their vision for the development of the country’s school network, says minister Ilga Šuplinska.

Weather in Latvia to be volatile this week – air temperature to drop below 0° C again

At the beginning of the week a precipitation zone will pass through Latvia’s territory, bringing rain and wet snow in eastern parts of the country. Wind will draw in from the west and north-west, reaching 15 m/sec.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania to hold referendum on reducing number of MPs

A referendum on reducing the number of lawmakers to 121 from the existing 141 will be held on May 12 alongside the presidential election in Lithuania, the country's parliament has decided after 58 lawmakers voted in favour on Thursday, February 14, 42 were against and two abstained.

Latvian President: All should acknowledge constitutional values as their own

At the anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, President Raimonds Vējonis, urged everyone in Latvia «to acknowledge the values of the Constitution as one's own and be ready to stand for the basic law both in big issues and in aspects of daily life».

Court rules EUR 200 thousand bail for criminal suspect of Riga transport firm

A court in the Latvian capital has set at 200 000 euros the bail money for ex-board chairman of the Riga public transport company Rīgas satiksme, who is a suspect in the criminal case over possible corrupt procurement dealings at the municipal firm.

Grave terror attack shakes Kashmir, conflict region of India, Pakistan

A terror attack has taken place in the disputed region of Kashmir, a long source of argument between India and Pakistan, taking the lives of 44 people.

British parliament rejects government's approach to Brexit talks

As the government of the United Kingdom sought the backing of the British Parliament to its strategy for the remaining weeks of Brexit talks with the European Union, a motion endorsing the government's strategy was rejected with a majority of 45 votes.

Lithuanian lawmakers set to backtrack on «Norwegian-type» child welfare protection

The Lithuanian lawmakers have sent this week a mixed message on their resolve to root out child abuse in Lithuanian families. As the MPs backtracked from the stringent Norwegian-type child welfare protection law to a more lenient one, not-criminalizing corporal punishment in certain cases, some experts warn that the reverse can trigger a spike of child abuse cases.

Drivers warned in Latvia as roads slippery in warmer temperatures

Black frost is hampering driving on Latvia's main and regional roads. The road administration body Latvijas Valsts ceļi (LVC) says that maintenance teams are covering the roads with antiskid materials and advises drivers to be very careful.

Programmer, physiotherapist and pilot – top professions on Latvian Job Shadow Day

The Job Shadow Day 2019 was held on February 13 in Latvia and the professions of programmer, physiotherapist and pilot were the most attractive as 1 545 companies offered the chance to follow working specialists throughout the day, according to the data by Junior Achievement Latvia.

Macedonia starts name-change from signs to currency, passports

Macedonia's official gazette has published the name-change agreement, launching a campaign of renaming the country as North Macedonia and allowing for its accession to NATO and eventually the European Union.

Dozens of British ex-ambassadors call for delay of Brexit

A group of over 40 British ex-ambassadors have urged the country's Prime Minister Theresa May to delay the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, British media report.

Port of Ventspils sees 40% boost in cargo turnover on year

Cargo turnover at the Freeport of Ventspils has in January 2019, compared to the respective month in 2018, jumped by 40.12% or 593 tonns, according to data from the Port Administration.

New CEO of Rail Baltic project is Finnish railway executive Riihimäki

To advance the pan-Baltic railway project, the Supervisory Board of RB Rail AS has appointed Timo Riihimäki as Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Management Board of the Rail Baltica Joint Venture.

Latvian PM sees no chance no significantly raise teacher salaries in 2019

Despite promises to teachers made by the previous government, Latvia is currently unable to significantly raise the wages of teachers, because it would require either increasing the budget deficit or higher taxes, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has told on Wednesday, in an interview with LNT's programme 900 sekundes.

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