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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: 305 - (30/05/06)

Former KGB agents to be named
In Soviet days Latvia was run by its KGB, which was directly under Moscow's control. This is still a highly contentious matter.
The names of about 4,500 former Latvian KGB agents will be published in an official newspaper November 1, a Latvian parliamentary committee has decided. The date was chosen so that the published information would not effect parliamentary elections scheduled for October, The Baltic Times reported on May 9th.
"This timing would ensure irreversibility of processes and preclude any accusations of political games," said Mareks Seglins, chairman of the parliament's legal committee. The committee agreed on March 7th that the names of KGB agents would be published.
The KGB files, which were left behind in Latvia after the country won its independence from the Soviet Union, will be published in the newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis. The files contain the former agent's name, his or her father's name, date and place of birth, code name, the date of recruitment, position within the KGB and, if applicable, the date on which he or she was discharged.
This information will be dynamite for many. Those who can afford to go may make a discreet departure from the country. Many on the lists will be low-level informers, but all named will be in fear of the lynch mob, or its Latvian equivalent. 

ECB: only Latvia's inflation numbers are worse than Bulgaria's
Latvia has a rapidly booming economy, but is paying the price of having rapid inflation too. It is the only European state with higher inflation than Bulgaria, shows data of the European Central Bank (ECB).
Latvia's inflation rose 7% while Bulgaria's was clocked at 6.1% in April 2005-March 2006, shows ECB's harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, an index of consumer prices calculated on the basis of a statistical methodology that has been harmonised across Europe.

The Kiev-Riga axis
Energy and NATO membership were at the top of Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko's agenda during his official two-day visit to Latvia on April 27-28. The two sides also discussed energy issues, which have become increasingly sensitive due to the Kremlin's new assertiveness in foreign policy. 
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a big player on the Baltic stage, but also right across the former Soviet sphere, welcomed her Ukrainian counterpart at the Riga Castle, where the leaders discussed trade possibilities between the two countries and Ukraine's ambition of joining the EU and NATO. The talks resulted in three bilateral agreements, according to the president's press-office. After meeting with Yushchenko, Vike-Freiberga told journalists they had discussed Ukraine's vital transit role in energy supplies. "We would like the Caucasian energy resources to go through Ukraine," Vike-Freiberga said. 
Yushchenko added that Ukraine would be a unique transit country and could supply oil and gas to other regions, including the Baltic states. He said that no European country could create a stable energy policy by itself as the energy market was "a market of interdependency." 
The Ukrainian president also thanked the Latvian government for meeting the needs of Ukrainians residing in the Baltic state. He assured Vike-Freiberga that, likewise, his government was ready to help and support Latvians in Ukraine.
"I am convinced that in our diverse world it is vital to preserve native languages, literature and history in order to preserve nationalities," Yushchenko said, adding that a special council for working with expatriate Ukrainians has already been established in Ukraine. 
During the council's first meeting, he added, it was decided to give passports to hundreds of Ukrainians living abroad, including 144 in Latvia. "We aim to help the Ukrainian diaspora integrate with Ukraine and adopt its way of life," he said.
Vike-Freiberga assured Yushchenko that Ukraine could rely on Latvia. "It is very important for Ukraine and Latvia to develop economic and business relations, whose potential has not been fully used," she said, adding that the business climate in Ukraine had considerably improved since 2005. 
Freiberga also complimented Yushchenko on the commendable conduct of Ukraine's "truly democratic" elections, before offering her heartfelt condolences to the nation on the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
"This catastrophe showed that the Soviet system was faulty and incapable of protecting its people," Freiberga said. 
Yushchenko also spoke to students, diplomats, politicians and academics in a lecture at the University of Latvia entitled "Ukraine in the Modern World" during his visit. The Ukrainian president outlined the changes that had taken place in his country following the "Orange Revolution" and spoke of Ukraine's efforts to join the EU and NATO.
He expressed hope that a Latvian-Ukrainian commission would become functional within a few weeks' time and would establish a framework for future cooperation between the two countries. The commission would pick some seven or eight areas of policy to focus on, Yushchenko said, with the contentious issue of energy close to the fore.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Latvia premier hopes for new NATO-Japan relation 


Visiting Latvian Prime Minister, Aigars Kalvitis, expressed hope recently that the NATO summit in Riga in November will be an opportunity to seek a new partnership between NATO and Japan. Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Kalvitis said one of the important topics in the Nov. 28-29 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be "NATO partnership with other countries." The 39-year-old prime minister said the summit will help strengthen "cooperation with interested countries outside the traditional NATO partnership region, such as Japan and Australia and others who have common security interest with NATO." During his stay in Japan, Kalvitis will meet with Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, and Foreign Minister, Taro Aso, to "exchange views related to our bilateral relation as well as relations of the European Union and NATO with Japan." Kalvitis was visiting Japan in time for the opening of the Latvian embassy in Tokyo, New Europe reported.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Vodafone welcomes Latvia to its global community 


Vodafone has announced that it has signed an extension to its Partner Network Agreement with BITE Group, enabling its Latvian subsidiary BITE Latvija to become the latest member of Vodafone's global community. With the addition of the extended agreement, Vodafone customers will shortly be able to 'enjoy seamless access' to Vodafone services across all three Baltic States, New Europe reported.
Vodafone began its relationship with BITE Group through a partnership in Lithuania in 2003. BITE launched its new Latvian operation in September 2005. Under the agreement, BITE Latvija's worldwide service offering will be dual-branded with Vodafone. BITE will also cooperate with Vodafone in developing services to international and domestic customers. BITE Latvija's customers will shortly be able to enjoy the benefits of Vodafone's international services across the Vodafone global footprint, while Vodafone and its partners' customers will have seamless access to Vodafone's international mobile services while travelling in Latvia.

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