Books on Latvia
Update No: 298 - (27/10/05)
The Latvian Minerva
Latvia is one of the few countries in the world with a female head of state,
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga. She is a fixture, whereas governments, in the
fractured polity of Latvia, come and go with fair regularity.
Her integrity is beyond question. She was a long-time US citizen under
communism. She only came back to her original homeland out of a sense of duty,
as well of course as a love of her original country.
Her initiatives in foreign policy, therefore, certainly count.
Vike-Freiberga calls on Putin to strengthen ties
Russia is the prime interlocutor for Latvia, as she well knows. She has called
on Russian President Vladimir Putin to give meaning to the Latvian-Russian
intergovernmental commission and strengthen cooperation between the two
The two presidents sat next to each other during the recent breakfast hosted by
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. They agreed that "dialogue between our
countries is still on a rather low level of contacts," the president's
foreign advisor Andrejs Pildegovics told the LNT news station. "It seemed
in general that Putin felt positive about the need to revive this dialogue step
by step," Pildegovics said.
Though created several years ago, the Latvian-Russian intergovernmental
commission has been dogged by political stonewalling as Moscow continues to
delay meetings due to its dissatisfaction over Latvia's minority policies.
This is a euphemism for the fact that in Latvia's six largest cities Russian
Latvians predominate. But the young are assimilating. Fortunately, the Slavic
Russians and the Latvians are mutually attractive. It is merely a matter of
Latvia turned westwards recently by joining the EU in May 2004. But in a
disturbing development, the results of a new poll show that most of Latvia's
population would vote against EU membership if a referendum were held now.
The poll, conducted by the Latvijas Fakti polling company, found that 40.3 per
cent of Latvians would vote "yes" and 48.7 per cent would vote
Most of the opposition to the EU was concentrated among noncitizens, ie mostly
Russian Latvians, of whom 60.6 per cent would vote "no," the poll
The elderly people and lesser educated were also Euroskeptic. "Those people
have been hit most hard by the problems caused by inflation and do not see much
prospects for their life in relation to the EU," Aigars Freimanis, director
of Latvijas Fakti, was quoted by the Baltic News Service as saying.
As before, it is merely a matter of time.
FOOD & DRINK
H1 beer sales on the rise
Brewers in Latvia saw sales rise slightly in the first half of this year, latest
figures released by the Latvian breweries association (LADS) showed. The data
showed that sales in the six-month period were up by 3.9 per cent year-on-year
to 43.76 million litres. Grigis Un Co, Abula and Cesu Alus breweries saw the
most impressive increases in sales, while Alus Tirdzniecibas Grupa, Piebalgas
Alus, Lacplesa Alus and Bauskas Alus all saw sales slump year-on-year, according
Aldaris, the domestic market leader, saw sales rise by 4.7 per cent to 18
million litres, with Cesu Alus rolling in second place with a 10.5 per cent
increase in sales to 7.27 million litres. "This year, the beer market is
expected to recover to its previous volume," said LADS executive director
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Latvia, Azerbaijan eye ties
Latvian President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, and her Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev,
signed a joint declaration in Baku on October 3, acknowledging that both
countries would develop bilateral political, economic and social contacts, Leta
Both sides acknowledge their determination to consolidate their relations on the
basis of such values as the rule of law, democracy, human rights and market
economy. Vike-Freiberga and Aliyev also said that additional measures should be
taken to expand cooperation in the culture, science, education and health care
areas and between employees in these areas, as well as between the mass media in
The declaration also says Latvia and Azerbaijan will enhance military
cooperation in accordance with both counties' security interests and
international commitments. The declaration also emphasises the need for
promoting cooperation in trade, economy and science. Latvia expresses support
for Azerbaijan's move to the World Trade Organisation. Vike-Freiberga approves
of Azerbaijan's efforts to promote cooperation with the European Union, NATO,
OSCE and the Council of Europe. Latvia's public institutions are ready to share
their experience of integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions with Azerbaijan,
Austria eyes ties with Latvia regions
Latvian Regional Development and Local Government Affairs Minister, Maris
Kucinskis (People's party), held a meeting on September 26th with Austrian
Ambassador to Latvia Wernfried Koeffler, who declared that Austria is interested
in establishing cooperation with Latvia's regions, Leta News Agency reported.
Kucinskis informed the ambassador that his ministry is coordinating the drawing
up of the Latvian National Development Plan and at the same time is becoming
acquainted with similar such plans made by other countries. Kucinskis called
Austria's plan a positive example in many aspects. Koeffler outlined priorities
he has set during his term of office in Latvia, and one of them was establishing
cooperation between Latvia's and Austria's regions. He described his recent trip
to Liepaja where he was introduced to various cooperation projects that Austria
is involved in. One of them is construction of the new concert hall. Koeffler
vowed to represent Austria's interests not only in Riga, but in regional areas
as well. Kucinskis told the ambassador about the course of regional reform and
administrative-territorial reform in Latvia.
Germany's Siemens wins 3G/W-CDMA deal from Tele2
Latvia's major telecommunications provider, Tele2 SIA, a subsidiary of
Swedish-based Tele2 AB, has contracted with Siemens to expand its GSM network
and build a complete 3G/W-CDMA network infrastructure, New Europe reported.
The contract includes the expansion of the radio and core system for the
provider's GSM network in Latvia, the upgrade of existing GSM circuit and packet
core network elements with 3G functionalities as well as building a complete
3G/W-CDMA radio network in the country's metropolitan areas. "The Baltic
states are one of the fastest-growing economic regions in Europe. We are pleased
to be able to participate in this boom and accompany the new EU countries in the
evolution of their mobile communication networks toward 3G," commented
Christoph Caselitz, president of Mobile Networks at Siemens Communications. The
Siemens Communications Group is one of the largest players in the global
telecommunications industry. In fiscal 2004 (year-end September 30), its
60,000-strong workforce posted sales of approximately 18 billion Euro.