Books on Latvia
Update No: 302 - (27/02/06)
The new Latvian woman
One of the exciting things about the newly emergent Baltic states is that they
are prepared to try out new ideas. Estonia has its flat tax. Latvia has its
feisty women in politics.
Former Foreign Minister and independence activist Sandra Kalniete joined the New
Era political party January 30th, where party colleagues greeted her with calls
to succeed current President Vaira Vike-Freiberga when her term expires next
It is generally agreed on all sides that Vike-Freiberga has been an outstanding
success. Her second term expires in mid-2007. She has been named among the
leading candidates for the post of UN secretary-general, which will become
vacant after Kofi Annan steps down at the end of this year.
Kalniete joins New Era, party hints at her presidential candidacy
The decision to join New Era, Parliament's largest political party, came after
months of periodic speculation in the media whether Kalniete would put an end to
her independent status and join a political party. It was widely believed that
she would only join a political party if she could not find a position in the
country's diplomatic corps.
Kalniete has not revealed whether she would agree to be the party's candidate
for head of state. However, she admitted to journalists that it would be very
difficult to follow such a powerful personality as Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
"Kalniete would make a splendid presidential candidate, but this question
isn't yet on the agenda," New Era secretary Edgars Jaunups told the daily
The contrary view
People's Party faction leader, Janis Lagzdins, however, said that if Kalniete
joined New Era, a coalition partner and right-wing rival of the People's Party,
her chances of taking the president's post would decrease.
Lagzdins pointed out that Vaira Vike-Freiberga didn't belong to any party when
she ran for the presidency in 1999. This, he suggested, was to her benefit.
Since none of the party candidates received enough votes during the first round,
this allowed Vike-Freiberga to be elected in the second round of voting.
A new scenario
After the parliamentary elections in 2002 Kalniete was nominated by the New Era
party to be the country's foreign minister, but remained independent of any
political party. She briefly became a EU commissioner until she was substituted
by Parliamentary Chairwoman Ingrida Udre after the New Era led government
However, Udre herself was later dumped for Andris Piebalgs, Kalniete's chief of
Kalniete is one of the most well-known and respected people in the country due
to her work during the independence movement and her tenure as Foreign Minister.
New Era could announce its presidential candidate before the upcoming general
elections in October. Kalniete said that the next president would face tough
challenges, "because it will take a very long time for someone to become a
worthy successor of such an outstanding president [as current President Vaira
Regulator approves higher Latvenergo tariffs
Public Utilities Commission's council has approved 6.6 per cent higher new
tariffs on the power utility Latvenergo from March 1st, New Europe reported.
According to Latvenergo specialists, the higher tariffs will not have any
significant effect on inflation in Latvia. The company has cut several costs to
make the increase in tariffs minimal. The company explains that its tariffs have
to be raised due to a 30 per cent rise in the price for imported electrical
power, as well as higher prices for natural gas. Latvenergo tariffs were last
raised on January 1, 2004, an average 12.7 per cent. Latvenergo's audited profit
in 2004 amounted to 24.7 million, 13.9 million lats up from 2003.
TeliaSonera signs framework agreement with DatiExigen
TeliaSonera has signed a framework agreement with Latvian IT Company DatiExigen
Group among its 14 IT Integrators for 2006 and 2007. The agreements cover
services for TeliaSonera's development and maintenance needs for IT applications
in the Nordic countries, New Europe reported.
TeliaSonera continues to achieve synergies and cost savings by reducing the
number of IT integrators from twenty-nine to fourteen. TeliaSonera also
maintains stringent cost controls by ensuring that defined projects and studies
are procured at fixed prices. Price in relation to performance will continue to
develop favourably during the agreement period 2006 and 2007. "DatiExigen
is the first IT company from Eastern Europe which becomes integrator for
TeliaSonera. The company has warranties for several million dollar contracts
each year now," says Petter Lundgren from DatiExigen Swedish office.
Rail Baltica project looks for investors
The Rail Baltica project stipulates development of a high-speed Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw
railroad route by 2016. Latvia now hopes to attract private investors to finance
the Rail Baltica high-speed train project; as the EU decided last December to
cut the amount by threefold from 14.3 billion lats (20.3 billion Euro), New
Several potential investors have already announced their interest for 30
trans-European transport network's (TEN-T) cross-border transport projects. The
ministry of transport said even if the EU had not cut the funds for
trans-European transport network's (TEN-T) cross-border projects, programmes
co-financed by the EU would not receive more than 30 per cent of the funds
necessary for implementation of the project.