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Sunday 17.02.2019 | Name days: Konstance, Donats
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BNN summary of the week: promises from Latvia’s coalition and citizens’ rights after Brexit

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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: Promises; Brexit; Conflict; Opinion; Health; Decline.

PROMISES: Latvia’s forming coalition promises to be more open to opposition

The forming coalition in Latvia may consider proposals from the opposition and even support the more constructive of them, said prime minister candidate Krišjānis Kariņš in a conversation with journalists on Thursday, 17 January.

The politician said parties have agreed on a cooperation agreement. However, the document still requires some corrections. So far politicians have also agreed on the fiscal discipline agreement.

Previously coalition parties often rejected everything submitted by opposition parties. Now, however, potential partners have reached an agreement in regards to considering proposals from the opposition, explains Kariņš.

It will be necessary to separate constructive initiatives from less constructive ones, said the prime minister candidate, adding that this could be done during cooperation meetings.

Full article here

BREXIT: 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.

«We will develop a document that will ensure the same rights for British citizens that live and work in Latvia and Latvian citizens that live and work in Britain after Brexit,» said the minister.

He adds that this short political document is in early stages of preparation. Discussions regarding its approval with the Saeima are only planned at this stage, which is largely because of the lack of a new government. ‘I would refrain from giving specific dates, because we still have more than two months before 29 March, when Britain is set to leave the EU,’ said the politician.

«It is still unclear for us what Britain may do in the next three days. However, we believe this political commitment would help both sides help their citizens,» stresses Rinkēvičs, adding that Britain has been rather adequate towards Latvia’s interests and status of its citizens.

All that is left now is to wait for the British government to take action, and scenarios are different, said the minister. «Depending on the decisions, our reaction will follow,» adds the minister, stressing that the next steps may come not after the no-confidence vote against British Prime Minister Theresa May, but rather after 21 January, when the British government is expected to present future solutions.

Full article here

CONFLICT: 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.

The politician believes it is no surprise that Russia’s goal is creating chaos and discord among EU member states. «I would be better if Russia instead decided to sort out its economy and become a trusty trade partner and neighbour. However, over and over again we see the ‘old KGB methods’ – pitting countries against one another and using the divide and conquer principle,» says the MEP.

She adds the possibility of fake news cannot be excluded completely even though EP and society are now better prepared to combat such news. «The ‘dark side’ is not idle, and has come up with new ways to mislead people. One such method is calling Latvia a failed state,» adds Vaidere.

According to the MEP, Russia will use different ways to put left-wing and ultra-right powers in the European Parliament to make sure the parliament’s work is not constructive, as well as make it mired in secret interests and mutual fights. This is why Vaidere stresses it is necessary to show people the truth before elections.

As one major flaw, she mentioned the failure to create a Russian European television channel. According to Vaidere, creating a separate Russian television channel is too expensive for EU countries. A unified television channel needs very good content – movies, shows and other content – to convince people to watch, said the politician.

Full article here

OPINION: 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.

The biggest objections voiced so far are not about the possible formation of a new ministry but, rather, the potential candidate his party is trying to push for this post.

It is worth mentioning that prime minister candidate Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš has proposed forming a demographic affairs ministry. The National Alliance, likely fearing the possibility of losing its position «at the helm», is convinced that a new minister’s post is needed. On top of it, the party thinks Parādnieks is the best candidate for the job.

There is an opinion that the decision to pick Parādnieks for the post of welfare minister was very odd for NA chairman Raivis Dzintars because as a member of a conservative party, Parādnieks and his polygamous lifestyle do not represent the party’s values all that well, to put it mildly. However, even though Parādnieks was not elected to the 13th Saeima, Dzintars continues pushing him for high posts, making him out to be «a national expert in demographic affairs».

This causes an avalanche of questions as to how a political party that stands with conservative and traditional family values is able to push a person on record of having publicly said that «loving two women is no easy task»? Being married to one woman and having an affair with another – is this the kind of demographic ‘solution’ the party wants to cultivate by picking Parādnieks?

Full article here

HEALTH: 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.

On Thursday, 17 January, the parliament approved amendments to Healthcare Financing Law in two readings, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

«The new information system was supposed start working at the beginning of 2019. However, this was not the case. We’ve all seen this fiasco. Doctors still don’ know about the amount of services their patients are eligible to receive. This was yet another blow for the e-health system’s reputation,» says chairman of Saeima’s Social and Employment Affairs Committee Andris Skride.

According to him, the legislator has provided more than enough time for this system’s technical implementation. Postponing the reform also gives time for the new government to voice its position in regards to state compulsory healthcare insurance and motivate members of the government to act. The committee also mentioned a proposal to expand the range of residents who are eligible for a full range of state-funded services. Deputies plan to address this matter in the next couple of months, admits Skride.

Full article here

DECLINE: 150 jobs lost in Estonia as polluting power stations reduce operations

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

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports on Thursday, January 17, that some older electricity generation blocks have to be decommissioned in line with requirements of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive and leading to the proportion of electricity generated from oil shale burning will fall, and with it oil shale mining being reduced.

«The Narva power plants have a total of four energy blocks that are limited in time to the end of the working life of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive. (..) The exact timescale for this depends on the electricity market and the situation with the CO2 emissions regulations,» informed Raine Pajo, Eesti Energia board member.

Full article here


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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.

Estonian startups attract EUR 328 million in 2018

The Estonian startup sector has in 2018 attracted combined investments of 328 million euros with Taxify, Pipedirve and Monese being the top performers, according to calculations by Startup Estonia.

U.S. sees power vacuum in Eastern Europe as exploited by Russia, China

U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo evaluated that in Eastern Europe, China and Russia endanger the democratic and free-market gains made since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 by the means of predatory investment and political meddling.

Ukraine peace agreement not fulfilled, UN finds

The Minsk peace accord of 2015 stands unimplemented in eastern Ukraine as over 3,300 people have been killed and 1.5 million people displaced in the five-year conflict, U.N. officials stated.

Latvian conductor Nelsons wins Grammies in U.S.

Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons has added two Grammy music awards to his list of honours for the work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. At the Grammy music awards ceremony in the U.S. on Sunday, February 10, the Latvian won the prize for the best orchestral performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the record Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4&11.

Riga Mayor survives another no-confidence vote

The embattled Mayor Riga Nils Ušakovs has survived a vote of no-confidence as the opposition parties criticised him over corruption scandals involving the Riga City Council.

Justice Minister: Justice does exist in Latvia, but it's selective

«I'm in politics precisely, because as a citizen and a lawyer, I wasn't satisfied with the influence on the court and political system from people, operating outside these spheres. To my mind, this influence is the reason of long trials in Latvia. Another problem is the lack of specialists, who could solve economic crimes – if politicians would be very interested in this, many cases would have been solved over the past ten years. There are two options: there have either been unprofessional politicians, or they have been interested in having the situation remain the way it was,» said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns in an interview with the BNN.

Spain starts historic trial against Catalan independence figures

Spain is beginning court proceedings against 12 leaders of the region of Catalonia for their role in the region's independence referendum and the subsequent declaration of separation from Spain.

Estonia convicts ex-army officer, his father for treason

A court in Tallinn has convicted ex-officer of the Estonian Defence Forces, Deniss Metsavas, his father for state treason, finding them guilty of selling state secrets to Russian intelligence.

Troubles continue in Latvian anti-establishment party KPV LV

In the Latvian anti-establishment party KPV LV, Saeima member Linda Liepiņa has decided to leave the post of the party's Co-chairperson and member of the board.

Thaw and warm temperatures expected in Latvia this week

The weather in Latvia, in the first part of the week will be mostly warm for winter-time and precipitation in the form of rain and wet snow can be expected, according to a weekly forecast from the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Defence Minister: Deployment of allied missiles in Latvia is «dreaming»

The issue of the deployment of the missiles of allied forces in Latvia is far from being relevant, «it's dreaming», commented Latvian Defence Minister on Monday, February 11, in an interview with LTV's news programme Rīta panorāma

Hungary' s mothers of four to be exempt from paying income tax

In Hungary, the government is boosting financial support to families with several children, according to measures presented by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. On Sunday, February 10, the significant measures announced by Viktor Orbán during an annual address, encouraging women to have more children.

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