Books on Latvia
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
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
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.
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
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