Books on Latvia
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
"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
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
"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.
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.
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
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.