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Wednesday 26.06.2019 | Name days: Inguna, Inguns, Ausma, Ausmis
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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!


  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 !

Baltic States should discuss tax on alcohol together, prime ministers agree

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has discussed with Estonia’s Prime Minister Jüri Ratas the need to resolve the alcohol excise tax issue by all Baltic States together, said the leader of Latvia’s government at a press-conference on Tuesday, 25 June.

Latvian PM says it’s time to stop putting friends of politicians in charge of companies

It is time to put an end to the practice of putting people close to politicians in leading posts of companies, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to public broadcaster LNT programme 900 seconds, commenting on the future of Latvenergo after the suspension of its council.

Baltic states condemn renewal of Russia’s rights in Council of Europe

The foreign ministers of the three Baltic sates have condemned the restoration of Russia’s voting rights in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly pointing to Moscow’s continued military aggression and disrespect to rule of law and human rights.

Latvia’s Fiscal Discipline Council predicts slight drop for country’s economy

Fiscal Discipline Council expects Latvia’s economy to drop slightly in the coming years. For 2020, the expected drop is -0.2 percentage points and -0.1 percentage points in 2021 and 2022. GDP growth rate for 2019 has not been changed.

U.S. city prohibits e-cigarette sales

The city of San Francisco has passed as the first city in the U.S. a ban on e-cigarette sales until their health effects are better studied.

Lembergs’ lawyer abandons ship right before the finish line of criminal proceedings

One of the lawyers serving the suspended Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs’ interests in proceedings of the so-called Lembergs criminal case has «abandoned the ship», so to say, right before the finish line. With Raimonds Krastiņš’ departure it may take longer to properly review the case, as reported by public broadcaster Latvian Television.

New force in Riga: excluded party members and independent deputy form a new faction

Deputies excluded from New Conservative Party’s faction in Riga City Council Druvis Kleins and Imants Keišs, as well as independent deputy Oskars Putniņš have decided to found their own faction, as confirmed by deputies.

Researchers expect one-third of UK-based Latvians to apply for British citizenship soon

In the next five years, one-third of Latvian citizens who now live in Britain plan to apply for British citizenship, according to a survey performed by researchers of the University of Latvia Institute of Philosophy and Sociology to determine the opinion of Latvian emigrants towards Brexit and its consequences.

Latvia’s prime minister expects minister to explain suspension of Latvenergo council

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš intends to wait until the end of the week for explanations from Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro in regards to the minister’s decision to suspend the council of the country’s energy giant Latvenergo, according to the prime minister’s issued resolution.

Key Turkish election won by opposition bringing change to largest city

In Turkey, the repeated mayoral election of Istanbul has been won by opposition candidate ending 25 years of the rule of the country’s governing AK party in largest city.

Latvia holds third highest growth rate in Europe’s innovation rating

Latvia is reported to have the third highest growth rate in the European Union, growing by 17.7 percentage points in the rating, according to outlooks of Europe’s Innovation Result and Regional Innovation Result.

Kaljulaid on Estonian Victory Day: Natural calamity more likely than warfare

Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid has said in a speech on Estonia’s Victory Day remembering the hundred-year-old War of Independence that despite natural calamities being more likely than warfare in the country, everyone should be informed and prepared to help ensure Estonian.

Latvia’s Sigulda will not host part of 2026 Winter Olympic Games

The 2026 Winter Olympic Games will take place in Italy’s Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, which have won in the competition for the right to host Olympic Games with Sweden, which planned to delegate certain ice sports to Latvia’s Sigulda.

Latvia’s prime minister not prepared to increase country’s budget deficit

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš is not prepared to increase budget deficit to satisfy growing budget requests from ministries. The prime minister says every ministry has provided arguments in favour of increasing funding for their respective sectors from the 2020 state budget.

Washington hits Iran with new sanctions, target’s country’s Supreme Leader

United States President Donald Trump has announced imposing of tough, new sanctions against Iran also on the office of the Middle Eastern country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

As scandals continue in Lithuania Latvian Railway praises company of ex-KGB agent’s wife

Latvian state company Latvian Railway (LDz) has had contracts worth dozens of million euros signed with the company owned by ex-KGB agent Yuri Simonenkov’s wife – SIA Sigmen – since 2005. While in Lithuania dealings with people who may or may not have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin have caused a scandal...

Kazakhstan evacuates thousands of people after blasts at military depot

In Kazakhstan a munitions depot has been hit by a fire and major explosions, resulting in a mass evacuation of a town.

Week in Lithuania: Coalition expansion talks completed, Vilnius University up in global rankings

Last week, four parliamentary parties continued coalition negotiations, two men were sentenced for spying for Russia, Government vowed to reduce shadow income in construction and car sale sectors.

BNN weekly summary: Fall of Turlais, alcohol tit for tat, Latvenergo council sacked

This week a top theme in Latvia and Estonia was the alcohol excise tax. Latest events showed that Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas does not plan to cut the tax rates an further, commenting Latvia’s possible 15%-reduction of liquor excise tax rate.

Estonia not to deepen its U-turn on alcohol excise, after Latvian move

Following Latvian plan to retaliate to Estonia’s sharp drop of its alcohol excise tax rates, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has stated that Tallinn is not going to cut its rates any further.

Dombrovskis gives up MEP mandate to continue in European Commission

Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian politician having led in the European Parliament’s elections the list of New Unity, has decided to give up his mandate of a member of the European Parliament to continue in the European Commission for its remaining term.

Latvian State Audit tasked with damage recovery rights

The Saeima has passed in the final reading amendments to the State Audit Law authorising the public spending watchdog to recover damages from persons responsible for violations of law found during institutional inspections.

Latvia bans Soviet and Nazi uniforms in protests and meetings

The Latvian Saeima has passed in the final reading law amendments that would ban the wearing of the uniforms and elements of the armed forces and repressive institutions’ uniforms of the Soviet Union, its republics and the Nazi Germany.

Proposed EUR 40 mln compensation to Latvian Jewish community retracted

Latvian party alliance Development/For! has retracted its own draft law on the restitution in the amount of 40 million euros to the Latvian Jewish community for real estate confiscated by totalitarian powers in the mid-20th century in the then occupied Latvia.

Riga city Mayor Turlais loses post in no-confidence vote

The chairman of the Riga City Council, Dainis Turlais has not survived a no-confidence vote, which lead to him losing the post of the Mayor of the Latvian capital.

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