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Ceturtdiena 17.01.2019 | Name days: Tenis, Dravis
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BNN summary of the week: NATO to increase and ABLV Bank loses its license

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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: Future; Deal; Fight; Decline; Decision; Opinion.

FUTURE: 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.

Bergmanis believes any country can increase defence spending as long as there is political commitment and support. There are many defence ministers in the world who want an increase of funding for their industry.

Information previously provided by Defence Ministry shows that Latvia’s defence budget was 1.4% of GDP in 2016 and 1.7% in 2017. This year, Latvia’s defence budget reached 2% of the country’s GDP. This year’s defence budget is EUR 576.34 million, which is EUR 126.8 million more than last year.

«Many countries will continue developing armed forces, because 2% of GDP is the minimum required for defence. We cannot escape talks on increasing defence spending,» said the minister.

Facing modern threats, Latvia continues developing its armed forces and improving host country capabilities, which will require funding. «We will also require additional funding to station NATO’s Multinational Division North headquarters at Ādaži base. We have several projects planned. However, we have to keep in mind that costs tend to change,» said the minister.

Full article here

DEAL: Competition Council permits merging of two energy wholesale traders and producers

On 4 July, Latvia’s Competition Council decided to permit the merging deal as a result of which Enefit Green AS will gain decisive influence over Nelka Energia AS by purchasing 100% of the company’s shares. Permission was given because the merge is not expected to have a major impact on competition on the market, the council explains.

Both participants of the merge are registered in Estonia. Both indirectly own and manage biomass co-generation power plants in Latvia. Those plants produce heating and electrical energy: Enefit Green AS owns SIA Enefit Power in Valka and Heat Valka. Nelja Energia AS owns subsidiary SIA Technological Solutions in Brocēni. Enefit Green AS is owned by Eesti Energia AS, which is an Estonian state-owned international energy company.

Full article here

FIGHT: ECB revokes Latvian ABLV Bank’s credit institution license

European Central Bank has decided to revoke Latvian ABLV Bank’s license, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

ECB made its decision following a proposal from FCMC. The proposal was submitted to the bank after ABLV shareholders decided to commence the bank’s self-liquidation process and FCMC’s 12 June decision to permit it.

FCMC Chairman Pēters Putniņš: ‘This was a planned and logical step for the bank’s self-liquidation process. It will not affect the process in any way. FCMC continues monitoring the self-liquidation process in accordance with the previously approved plan.’

On 12 June, FCMC submitted to ECB a request to revoke ABLV Bank’s license. ECB’s decision came to force 11 July.

The liquidator published an announcement about the commencement of the bank’s self-liquidation process in Latvian Herald on 18 June. It was the beginning for a three-month term for creditors to submit their requests. Creditors continue submitting requests. Revoking of the bank’s license will not affect this process.

FCMC’s controlled voluntary bank liquidation process is a solution that provides the widest possible involvement from FCMC and provision of control, the commission adds.

ABLV Bank’s self-liquidation process is managed by – Arvīds Kostomārovs, Andris Kovaļčuks, Elvy Weber and Eva Berlaus.

Full article here

DECLINE: Skycop says airline strikes picking up in strength; losses reach six billion

Compared to the previous year, 2018 so far has not been successful. Fuel prices have increase, as have employee strikes, which continue creating serious problems for European airlines, as BNN was informed by representatives of flight compensation request processing company Skycop.

The company reports that European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, or Eurocontrol, CEO Eamonn Brennan has mentioned that the large number of airline employee strikes has significantly impacted flight arrival accuracy. Data compiled for April details specific strikes that had a major impact on the accuracy of airline operations.

«Although 2017 was a challenging year for the aviation industry, it is still considered a successful year, because the industry had experienced the most rapid passenger turnover increase since 2004. Based on data from ACI Europe, the number of travellers has grown 8.5% over the course of the year. The biggest problems, on the other hand were caused by shortage of pilots and consolidation of European airlines. Continued increase of air passenger numbers is expected this year, as well. However, topical problems with airline operations and continuing strikes make it hard to believe airlines will be able to meet the growing demand,» Skycop representatives say.

The largest number of strikes took place in February. In majority of those cases, participants were from Italian and French airlines. Skycop notes that Air France has suffered fourteen strikes so far. As a result, share value has dropped 9.7% and the company has suffered losses worth more than EUR 300 million. In Italy, there have been three strikes in total this year. All of them had a major impact on airline operations, causing many flights to be delayed or cancelled.

Full article here

DECISION: Canada decides to extend rule over NATO multi-national battalion in Ādaži for four years

Canada has decided to extend its rule over NATO’s multi-national battalion stationed in Latvia for four more years, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Pierre James Trudeau confirmed at a press-conference.

The previous end term was 2019. Not it has been extended for four more years, said Trudeau after his meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.

Latvia’s prime minister admits that this decision from Canada is a great gift for Latvia on its centenary.

The objective behind expanded presence of NATO forces is improving existing deterrence and security capabilities, demonstrating the alliance’s solidarity and determination to protect member states from any forms of aggression. A festive welcoming ceremony was held at Ādaži base on 19 June 2017.

Full article here

OPINION: it is impossible for Latvian parties to attract large funding honestly

«If we look at political parties’ ability to attract funding from large companies, for example, conclusions are rather sad – there is no way for parties in Latvia to attract funding in an honest way,» Providus think tank researcher Iveta Kažoka said in an interview to BNN.

She continues: «It is a fundamental problem for Latvian parties. During discussions at Lampa festival this matter was mentioned by nearly all participating parties off-camera that this is a matter in need of resolving».

In 2015, Estonian parties divided amongst themselves EUR 5,400,000. Lithuanian parties divided EUR 5,800,000. Latvian parties, on the other hand, received EUR 612,398 from the state budget, which is approximately nine times less than the amount provided to neighbours.

Kažoka explained that parties either have to make do with scraps, which is not nearly enough to work successfully, or resort to scheming. «Often they are caught red-handed with their schemes – law enforcement institutions take notice of their activities.» She also adds that most of the time, however, institutions like Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau fail to notice political parties’ schemes.

There has to be funding to sustain a party

«To reach out to voters, there has to be some funding – to pay for visual materials, to sustain the party and communicate with 500 members and organize their work. Without resources, this cannot be done efficiently,» says the researcher.

She says the situation in Latvia is absolutely dramatic in the context of the Baltic region. «Funding for parties is ten times lower. At the same time, Latvian society is not less demanding. We expect parties to be less corrupted and be able to provide quality political programmes and experienced people in different sectors for ten times lower funding.»

«Parties do become corrupted. Because of that, it is necessary to think of a way to reduce pressure on Latvian parties and prevent them from looking for funding in corrupted sources. But the only solution that works in the European Union and the world is providing sufficient funding to parties from the state budget,» says Kažoka.

Full article here


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Lithuania’s ruling majority swings at media freedom, experts warn

All media, the so-called fourth authority of power, has been facing some international challenges, with the European Parliament set to vote next Monday on final text of Article 13, the proposed EU directive on copyright, which, if implemented, could censor internet users and internet platform hosts through artificial intelligence-employing filters.

Riga Active Seniors Alliance: seniors’ behaviour on the road should be discussed

Riga Active Seniors Alliance supports Latvian State Police informative safety campaign that addresses the behaviour of pedestrians on the road. This campaign invites seniors to pay attention to their own behaviour to ensure safe movement without putting at risk other traffic participants.

New healthcare service principle’s adoption in Latvia postponed until July

The rights to receive healthcare services as part of state compulsory healthcare regardless of their health insurance contributions will remain available for residents until 30 June 2019, Latvian Saeima has decided.

150 jobs lost in Estonia as polluting power stations reduce operations

Estonian state energy giant Eesti Energia, which mostly generates energy from fossile oil shale plants will reduce its operations at the Narva power plants, resulting in 150 job cuts.

Opinion: Russia will definitely interfere with European Parliament elections

According to Latvian member of the European Parliament Inese Vaidere, Russia will definitely attempt to interfere with upcoming European Parliament elections.

In no-deal Brexit, border control in Ireland would be obligatory

In an interview with the British news portal The Guardian, Michael Lux, a former head of customs legislation and procedures at the European commission, said the UK would have to impose customs checks and tariffs on the northern side of the border, despite claims to the contrary by Brexiters.

Opinion: Daugavpils City Council doesn’t want emergency elections; to agree on new mayor

Daugavpils City Council deputies Rihards Eigims and Andrejs Elksniņš are afraid of voters’ opinion in regards to emergency elections. Because of that, they will agree on the next mayoral candidate at the 17 January meeting, said Latgale party representative Jānis Lāčplēsis.

Scientists suggest sustainable diet to save the planet and prevent premature deaths

An international group of 37 scientists has developed a diet that promises to save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet.

Latvian parties taking too long on compiling government cooperation documents

Although work on the new government’s cooperation documents has taken more time than initially expected, Latvian prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš still hopes for the government to be approved next week.

Ministry: more children end up in families in Latvia not through foster families or guardians

More and more children in Latvia end up in families not through adoption, but through foster families or guardians, says Welfare Minister’s office manager Linda Baļčūne.

Estonian population continues to increase, mostly due to immigration

Estonia has registered population growth for the third consecutive year as 4,690 more persons lived in the Baltic country on January 1, 2019 than a year before, official statistics show.

Sweden to nominate head of government, who could finally be confirmed

In the Swedish parliament, three parties have stated they would not vote against caretaking Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to have another attempt to form a center-left government after a four-month political crisis.

In 2018 Latvia experienced more rapid growth of car registrations than EU

Last year the number of newly registered cars in Latvia was higher than the average in the European Union, according to the latest data from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

Latvian government prepares legislation to protect rights of Latvian in Britain after Brexit

Latvian government has started working on a document that provides for the protection of rights of Latvian citizens working in Britain and vice versa after Brexit, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Karolis Sankovski appointed as chairman of RB Rail council

A new council chairman has been appointed in Baltic joint company RB Rail. Riia Sillave and Edvīns Bērziņš were picked as vice-chairmen, as the company reports.

airBaltic carried record number of passengers in 2018 – 4.1 million

Latvian airBaltic airline carried a total of 4,136,711 passengers to different destinations in 2018. This is 17% more when compared to 2017. The number of passengers carried in 2018 is airBaltic’s all-time highest, as BNN was told by the company.

KPV LV to decide on dismissing Kaimiņš as vice-chairman of party’s faction

KPV LV party’s Saeima faction plans to discuss the proposal of dismissing Artuss Kaimiņš from the post of the faction’s vice-chairman.

Latvian minister sceptical about abolishing MPC system without litigations

Latvia’s Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens does not expect abolishment of the mandatory procurement component system this year to pass without litigations.

Latvian parties agree on 90% of content of coalition cooperation agreement

Parties of the forming coalition move towards a cooperation model in which matters are resolved based on the principle of consensus, says prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš from New Unity.

What do Britons actually want? Reactions from EU politicians

Commenting on the rejected deal of UK withdrawal, leaders of the European Union and member states, which are British neighbours, are seeking clarity over the exit scenario London would prefer if the British really want to leave.

Ministry fails to coordinate decision regarding Riga City Council’s dismissal

On Tuesday, 15 January, Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry failed to coordinate the latest redaction of the decision project On the Dismissal of Riga City Council, because the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments and Latvian Association of Large Cities objected it.

UK rejects Brexit deal, May faces no-confidence vote

British Prime Minister Theresea May hopes to overcome a vote of no confidence in her government, following the rejection of her Brexit deal in the UK Parliament.

Is polygamy the answer for Latvia? «Demographic affairs expert» Parādnieks is the man for the job!

The government formation process in Latvia is progressing slowly and painfully. It is as though a ship without navigation – Latvia has yet to find its way in the ocean of political roads. And this ocean I full of «icebergs» Latvia keeps bumping against. The latest one is National Alliance’s official candidate, an «expert» at resolving demographic problems Imants Parādnieks.

Latvian government approves unified requirements for road and street construction quality

On Tuesday, 15 January, Latvian government approved a project of rules from the Cabinet of Ministers. The goal of this project is ensuring rational use of public funds for road and street construction.

Strike in German airports cancels hundreds of flights

Several hundred flights have been cancelled in German airports on January 15, because of strike as part of an airport worker wage dispute. Germany's powerful Verdi union has announced the strike would last from 02:00 am until 8:00 pm local time at the airports of Frankfurt, Munich, Hanover, Bremen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden and Erfurt.