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Tuesday 16.10.2018 | Name days: Daiga, Dinija
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BNN summary of the week: government formation in Latvia; medicinal marijuana in Lithuania; EU vs. Lembergs

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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: Progress; Justice; Change; Outlook; Future; Growth; Government.

PROGRESS: Latvia wants to ratify EU-Japanese strategic partnership agreement

On Thursday, 11 October, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the first reading a legislative draft in accordance with which it is planned to ratify the Strategic Partnership Agreement between European Union and its member states one side and Japan on the other.

It is expected that it will improve bilateral involvement of Europe and Japan in further improvement of political dialogue and cooperation in fields like human rights, security and peace affairs, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

This agreement will have a positive effect on mutual relations between Latvia and Japan, as well as present opportunities for expanded cooperation and perspectives for further development of Latvia’s national economy in fields like research, energy and transports, as mentioned in the legislative draft’s annotation.

The parliament notes that the agreement includes topics such as human rights, weapons of mass destruction, international criminal affairs, as well as combating terrorism. The agreement also covers cooperation in economics and finances, customs, taxes, agriculture and other fields.

The agreement also provides for the formation of a Combined Committee between EU and Japan to coordinate general partnership.

Full article here

JUSTICE: European court prohibits Aivars Lembergs from governing Ventspils

On Thursday, 11 October, European Court for Human Rights announced its verdict in the case in which Lemgergs sued Latvian state. Judges unanimously declined the complaint submitted by the formally dismissed Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs in relation to possible violation of election rights, as reported by Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

In the plea submitted to European Court for Human Rights on 22 August 2017, Lembergs complained about the prohibition imposed on him to perform duties as chairman of Ventspils City Council. He also claimed that voters had expressed their will by electing him in Ventspils City Council. On top of that, he also said public surveys showed that Voters want to see him as chairman of the city council.

The security measure applied to Aivars Lembergs – prohibition to perform duties as chairman of Ventspils City Council – does not allow him to work in this post. Lembergs believes this breaches election rights guaranteed by the Convention.

Full article here

CHANGE: Lithuanian MPs back legalisation of marijuana in prescription medications

Lithuanian Saeima has adopted a bill to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana-based medications.

British medicine news aggregator Medical Xpress reports that the lawmakers voted 90-0 with three abstentions to support the legislation that will now go to President Dalia Grybauskaitė to be signed into law.

«It is a historic decision to ensure that patients can receive the best possible treatment. (..) Of course, it does not mean cannabis will be available to get at a drugstore to smoke before going to a nightclub,» commented MP Mykolas Majauskas who submitted the bill.

Full article here

OUTLOOK: Latvia’s Finance Ministry increases GDP growth outlook to 4.2% for 2018

Finance Ministry has increased the growth domestic product growth outlook for 2018 from 4% to 4.2%. At the same time, the ministry has reduced economic growth outlook for 2019.

In April 2018, Latvia’s government supported the country’s Stability Programme 2018-2021. The programme predicted Latvia’s GDP to grow 4% in 2018 and 3.4% in 2019. Next week, however, the Cabinet of Ministers will present the latest Latvian macroeconomic outlook, which provides that the country’s GDP will grow 4.2% in 2018 and 3% in 2019.

By increasing GDP outlook for 2018 by 0.2 percentage points, the ruling coalition agreed on allocation of an additional amount of EUR 5.7 million to the country’s defence sector. A relevant decision was made to ensure funding for defence reaches 2% of the country’s GDP.

Full article here

FUTURE: Latvia plans to invest EUR 650,000 in RB Rail capital

Latvian state intends to invest EUR 650,000 in the capital of SIA European Railway Lines, which will then invest this amount in AS RB Rail, as the government decided on Tuesday, 9 October.

European Railway Lines is Latvia’s shareholders in Baltic joint venture RB Rail, which was founded specifically to implement Rail Baltica project.

Transport Ministry mentions in the annotation to this decision that the amount from European Railway Lines will be passed to RB Rail, thereby securing a proportionally equal amount of capital shares as Lithuania and Estonia.

On 22 August 2018, it was decided at a shareholders meeting to increase RB Rail capital by tree euros by releasing three new dematerialized shares with nominal value of one euro each to make sure that after the increase RB Rail capital reaches EUR 1,950,012. Each share’s earnings reach EUR 649,999 and total sale price (including nominal value and emission earning) is EUR 1,950,000. To do that and preserve proportionally equal shares as Lithuania and Estonia, it is necessary to perform the fourth increase of capital for European Railway Lines by EUR 650,000.

Full article here

GROWTH: Estonian President becomes honorary citizen of South Korea capital

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid is on a visit to South Korea, where she has become an honorary citizen of its capital Seoul.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR cited President Kaljulaid as stating a ceremony to mark the honour expressed to her: «Both countries are forward looking. (..) We have a lot to learn from each other, and together can be spokespersons for digital societies globally».

The Mayor of Seoul Park Won-soon has received the honour becoming a Estonian e-Resident.

Full article here

GOVERNMENT: No government formation announcement expected Latvia this week

With KPV LV refusing to attend repeated talks with the New Conservative Party on Friday, 12 October, and Attīstībai/Par! party announcing commencement of mutual talks with separate political forces, chances of hearing any news about the next government’s composition this week become zero.

Bilateral talks on the formation of a new government have been organized by NCP and KPV LV. For two days now NCP has been regularly meeting with newly elected political parties, except Concord. The second phase of talks commenced on Friday. Talks will be continued with KPV LV, Attīstībai/Par!, National Alliance and New Unity. NCP has refused to cooperate with the Union of Greens and Farmers in the new government.

KPV LV has met with three parties since Tuesday – NCP, AP and NA. The party also plans to meet with New Unity on Friday and with UGF next Monday, even though previously the party wanted nothing to do with it because UGF had delegated representatives that were not elected to the new Saeima. KPV LV does plan to meet with Concord as part of ‘consultations’, but it will not be government-formation talks.

Because KPV LV has yet to meet with all elected parties, it was decided not to meet with NCP for repeated talks this Friday.

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UGF includes active ministers in its group for government formation talks

The Union of Greens and Farmers has delegated Latvia’s Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis and Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs to its group for government formation talks, as confirmed by the party’s board chairman Armands Krauze.

Latvian government supports 2019 budget project

On Monday, 15 October, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers supported Finance Ministry’s prepared 2019 budget plan project. State budget revenue in 2019 is planned at EUR 9.178 billion, which is EUR 217 million more when compared to 2018, whereas state budget expenditures are planned at EUR 9.205 billion, which is EUR 96 million more when compared to 2018.

EC Vice-President: growth of Latvia’s economy is delayed by banking sector’s problems

Development of Latvia’s economy is delayed by problems in the country’s banking and transit sectors, says European Commission’s Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis.

Danske Bank's rating lowered over Estonia branch scandal

American ratings agency Moody's has lowered its long-term ratings for Denmark's larges lender, Danske Bank, embroiled in a scandal of possible money laundering in Estonia.

Residents’ debts before non-finance companies remain the highest in Latvia

The debts of Latvian residents before non-finance companies have doubled over the course of the past half-year, reaching 305,000 unpaid bills, according to data from the Credit Information Bureau.

Hungary enforces ban on living rough in public areas

In Hungary, a constitutional rule, which bans people from living in public areas, has come into effect with imprisonment as a potential penalty.

Minister: current government may yet decide on MPC reform

The decision on reformation of the mandatory procurement component may be made by Latvia’s current government, said Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Brexit talks unable to solve Irish border issue days before decisive EU summit

Weekend talks between the leading Brexit negotiators did not end with a draft settlement as there is no agreement on the issue of the Northern Irish border shortly before a make-or-break European Union summit.

Latvian ministers do not support merging healthcare and welfare ministries

Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša and Welfare Minister Jānis Reirs do not support the proposal on merging their respective institutions, as both ministers said, commenting on the information regarding new Saeima parties’ plans for the two ministries.

Expert: there are no reasons to believe Latvia could change its Euro-Atlantic direction

There are no reasons for concerns that Latvia’s new government may change the country’s Euro-Atlantic direction. Nevertheless, the question how Latvia positions itself in the Euro-Atlantic community will remain topical, says director of the Latvian Institute of International Affairs Andris Sprūds.

Merkel's partners lose historic majority in Bavaria state election

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's partner party suffered their worst election result since 1950, losing votes to the far-right and the ecologist Greens.

Week’s beginning to remain warm in Latvia; wind and rain to return soon after

Weather is expected to remain warm in Latvia at the beginning of the week – days will be dry, sunny and warm. However, things will change in the second half of the week: weather will become cold and windy. Days will also become rainy, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Vilnius Mayor Šimašius to run for re-election

Members of the Lithuanian Liberal Movement's Vilnius branch have decided to nominate Remigijus Šimašius, the capital's current mayor, as their candidate in next year's mayoral election, giving him the mandate to form a public election committee.

BNN summary of the week: government formation in Latvia; medicinal marijuana in Lithuania; EU vs. Lembergs

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Justice; Change; Outlook; Future; Growth; Government.

Railway freight volumes in Latvia up 8.4% in nine months

The volume of railway freight has grown 8.4% in Latvia in the first nine months of 2018 when compared to the same period of 2017 and was 36.11 million, according to data compiled by Latvia’s Transport Ministry.

NCP offers forming coalition with five to seven parties, leaving UGF and Harmony in opposition

New Conservative Party has offered parties elected in the Saeima to form a coalition consisting of NCP, KPV LV, Attīstībai/Par, National Alliance and New Unity.

NA leader: NCP has invited National Alliance to work together in new coalition

In the second phase of government-formation talks, New Conservative party offered National Alliance ‘All for Latvia!’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ to work in the forming coalition, said NA co-chairman Raivis Dzintars.

State Audit: non-transparent teachers’ pay system creates risk of misuse of state funds

The unclear, confusing and non-transparent teachers’ pay system creates risks of misuse of state funds and the profession’s prestige, says Latvian State Auditor Elita Krūmiņa.

Estonian press: Saeima «difficult even for Latvians»

Estonian media have evaluated that the result of the Saeima election in neighbouring Latvia has produced an especially difficult negotiating ground with seven elected parties, but the influence of oligarchs seems to have been reduced.

European court prohibits Aivars Lembergs from governing Ventspils

On Thursday, 11 October, European Court for Human Rights announced its verdict in the case in which Lemgergs sued Latvian state. Judges unanimously declined the complaint submitted by the formally dismissed Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs in relation to possible violation of election rights, as reported by Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Kyiv receives historic approval to separate from Russian Orthodox Church

Ukraine has received an approval to found an independent church in what Kyiv believes is an essential measure against Russian meddling in its affairs.

No government formation announcement expected Latvia this week

With KPV LV refusing to attend repeated talks with the New Conservative Party on Friday, 12 October, and Attīstībai/Par! party announcing commencement of mutual talks with separate political forces, chances of hearing any news about the next government’s composition this week become zero.

EU sees Brexit deal close, but London has to drop its key red line

Michel Barnier, the head Brexit negotiator of the European Union, has stated a Brexit agreement could be achieved next week. To avoid impediments on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, London would have to abandon red line and agree to a customs union.

Weather in Latvia to remain summer-like

At the end of this week and the beginning of the next weather in Latvia will be dictated by a strong and wide anticyclone. Because of that, weather will be warm, sunny and without precipitation, as reported by Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvia’s finance minister to join Latvian Farmers’ Union

Latvia’s Finance Minster Dana Reizniece-Ozola, who currently represents For Latvia and Ventspils party, will soon join Latvian Farmers’ Union – a party that is also part of the Union of Greens and Farmers.

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