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LATVIA


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 9,671 8,406 7,500 94
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,070 3,480 3,230 79
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Latvia

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
64,589

Population
2,306,306

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Latvians 52.0%
Russians 34%
Belarusians 4.5%

Capital 
Riga

Currency 
Lats

President
Mrs Vaira 
Vike-Freiberga




Update No: 311 - (30/11/06)

A great day
Latvia has hosted the latest NATO summit in Riga on November 28-29. It was indubitably its greatest day since independence 15 years ago. The symbolism of the event was extraordinary.
Who twenty years ago would have thought it possible? Who even ten years ago?
The world has moved on. Russia decided to hold a thin-looking CIS summit in Minsk next door at the same time. But this was a futile gesture, if ever there was one. It has irretrievably lost its hold over Latvia, even if it still has a client regime in the ghastly tyranny that is Belarus. 
That, indeed, says it all. Whereas the Baltic states won their freedom by emulating and joining the West, Belarus has become a black hole by cleaving to Russia. 

Vike-Freiberga puts the summit in perspective
The Latvian President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who has been a big success and is now a world figure, spoke to parliament in early November about the forthcoming NATO Summit in Riga. Her impact in Western capitals had not a little to do with its location in Riga.
She said: "In a few days, the whole world will be attentively following the NATO Summit in Riga. We are hosting it just two years after our entry into that organization. Presently, we are considering the ways to revive NATO as an organization of global security. We expect that the Riga Summit will make decisions that will stimulate a new upsurge in NATO's security philosophy. The fact that Riga has been chosen as venue for a NATO summit proves that our international partners trust us and that we can comply with the highest NATO standards. This Summit will sweep away the last remains of the 'iron curtain' that occasionally appear here and there in the world and will prove that Latvia has become an inalienable part of the general NATO security space."
Vike-Freiberga said a few words about the growing fighting capacity of the Latvian army and, then, switched to Latvia's relations with Russia: "Our relations with Russia are becoming quite topical. Latvia has always wished to be good neighbours with Russia and to cooperate with that country on the basis of mutual respect and benefit. In order to establish such relations, we need both an inter-state political dialogue and a serious internal political discussion of our national interests. This approach fully accords with our general neighbourhood policy, and the new Saeima, together with the Government, should effectively apply this approach when concluding the agreement on the Latvian-Russian border. We should actively develop borderline cooperation as this would greatly improve living conditions on both sides of the border. It is important that the Saeima parties show a constructive approach to this problem, without trying to score points in their political rivalry." 

NATO military chiefs met before Riga Summit 
The important decisions on these occasions are made beforehand by means of sherpas and the like. The summit then ratifies them.
Top military officers from NATO and partner nations held an autumn meeting on November 11th, two weeks ahead of the Riga Summit. During the two-day meeting, military commanders discussed NATO operations and shaped key military strategies prior to the top-level gathering to be held on Nov. 28-29 in Riga. 
"We will be very much focused on current operations and the ways and means to build on our ability to sustain these over the long term," said Canadian Gen. Ray Henault, chairman of NATO's military committee before the meeting. "Our intent is to bring forward to the political authorities of the Alliance, consensus-based military advice on a wide range of issues, including the development of capabilities and initiatives in time for the deliberations at the Riga Summit," he added. 
The military committee, NATO's highest military authority, convenes formal meetings of chiefs of defence staff three times a year, twice in Brussels. The meetings contain five different sessions, namely NATO member nations, NATO with partners, NATO with the seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries, NATO with Ukraine, and NATO with Russia.

Kalvitis to maintain Prime Minister post in the next government
The stirring events in foreign affairs coincided with a political crisis and landmark at home. President Vike-Freiberga officially nominated on Nov. 7th current Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis to maintain his post in the country's next government. 
The current coalition partners, the conservative People's Party, the bloc of Latvia's First Party and Latvia's Way (LPP/LC) and the Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS), invited the nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TBL//LNNK) to join the coalition. 
Former economics minister Aigars Stokenbergs from the People's Party became municipal affairs minister, and Jurijs Strods from TB/LNNK was appointed as economics minister. Gaidis Berzins, from TB/LNNK will become justice minister. 
Normunds Broks, a representative of TB/LNNK, has been nominated to head the secretariat of cooperation with EU financial institutions. 
Kalvitis became prime minister on Dec. 2, 2004, a month after the previous government led by Indulis Emsis from ZZS resigned. He had previously served as economics and agriculture minister. 
The new coalition have 59 votes in Latvia's 100-seat parliament.
The ex premier Indulis Emsis has been elected the Saeima Speaker - the second highest official rank in Latvia. In the 8th Saeima Emsis chaired the Commission on National Security. 
His appointment has considerable significance. As an elder statesman, although he is only 54, he will assume a pivotal role when Vike-Freiberga ends her second and last term in the spring next year. He might even be tempted to stand for the presidency himself one day, but probably not yet. He likely covets another stab at the premiership first, the fundamental job.

Profile of Emsis
As regards Indulis Emsis, he has the following biography: He was born January 2, 1952. He is a biologist and politician who became Prime Minister of Latvia. In 1996 he was awarded the Order of Three Stars, Third-Class. He took part in the barricades of 1991 and was awarded a medal for that.
Indulis Emsis is a graduate of University of Latvia with a degree in biology, received in 1975. In 1986, he received Ph.D., also in biology. Until 1990, he worked as a research scientist in environmental science. In late 1980s his Environment Committee was one of the first structures to start conflicting with the Soviet authorities: through a system of special examinations they managed to control the Soviet military units. 
In 1990, he became one of founders of Latvian Green Party and served as Minister for the environment in the 1990s, working especially for a clean Baltic Sea. He is currently one of the three chairpersons of the Latvian Green Party, which forms a part of The Greens and Farmers Union. 
In 1995-1998 he was member of the 6th Saeima from the National Conservative Party of Latvia/MNIL. Before being elected into the 8th Saeima he was the director general of Eiroprojekts Ltd. 
On March 9, 2004, he became the prime minister of Latvia, leading a right-centre minority government consisting of The Greens and Rustics union, Latvia First Party and Latvian People's Party. For most of time, the government was also supported by the leftist National Harmony Party. Emsis was the first member of a Green Party to become Prime Minister of a country. On October 28, 2004, the government fell as the Saeima voted 39:53 against the government's budget proposal for the year 2005. He left office on 2004-12-02, when Parliament confirmed Aigars Kalvitis of the People's Party as Prime Minister.

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BANKING

Rietumu Banka signs for NetEconomy AML technology 

Rietumu Banka, one of the largest private banks in Latvia, recently selected ERASE solutions from NetEconomy, a globally recognised name in financial crime management and compliance solutions. A statement from NetEconomy revealed on October 23rd that the deployment would be used to detect and manage money laundering and prevent fraudulent activity. "After careful evaluation of the leading financial crime solution vendors, we chose NetEconomy for its cost-effective and easily configurable anti-money laundering and fraud prevention solutions," Alexander Pankov, senior vice-president and board member responsible for compliance and risk management of Rietumu Banka, said, New Europe reported. 
"NetEconomy's highly skilled staff and out-of-the box solutions will ensure rapid implementation to meet our compliance timeline and requirements." "We are extremely pleased to welcome Rietumu Banka to our portfolio of banks in the Baltic Region," said Peter Kwakernaak, vice president sales and marketing of NetEconomy, in the statement. "With the choice of ERASE, Rietumu is taking a vital step towards reducing regulatory risk, minimising fraud losses and mitigating financial crime." In addition to selecting the ERASE Compliance and Fraud Manager solutions, Rietumu Banka would also be implementing NetEconomy's Advanced Peer Group Analysis (APG) Module, the statement revealed. The APG Module uses a risk scoring calculation to identify extreme deviations, flagging alerts only when a customer's behavior is significantly different from others in its peer groups. By leveraging this dynamic calculation method at Rietumu Banka, exceptionally high-quality alerts are generated.

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ENERGY

Latvijas Gaze hopes to sign gas price deal with Gazprom 

Latvijas Gaze hopes to sign an agreement in December with Gazprom on prices for gas in 2007, company press secretary, Vinsents Makaris, said, BNS reported.
He said only the Latvijas Gaze board of directors can make a decision on the purchase price for gas and it is scheduled to meet again in December.
Latvijas Gaze sent the Public Service Commission a draft of new gas prices in early October that would increase by 25.7 - 37.1 per cent as of January 1. The commission rejected the plan because it did not include an agreement on gas shipments. Latvijas Gaze Chairman, Adrians Davis, said the company would soon submit a new rate plan showing an increase of 50-60 per cent.
The company said earlier the rates would be increased because Gazprom plans to increase its gas prices. Latvijas Gaze increased gas prices on May 1.
Latvijas Gaze buys, transports, stores, and distributes natural gas in Latvia. It buys about 70 per cent of its gas from Gazprom and 30 per cent from Itera Latvija. Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas, Gazprom, and Itera Latvija are the company's biggest shareholders.

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