Weekly Summary of News in Latvia

CURRENT LATVIA

28 September - 5 October
Wk. 40/2004 (576)




 




FOREIGN POLICY EVENTS AND CHRONOLOGY 

 

4 October 2004

Latvia's Prime Minister Indulis Emsis, Estonia's Prime Minister Juhan Parts and Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas met as the Prime Ministers' Council within the framework of the Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM).
The Prime Ministers acknowledged the work carried out by the Latvian Chairmanship during 2004 in advancing the institutional reform of the BCM. The reform was determined by the necessity to adapt the BCM to the new situation after the accession of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the EU and NATO.
The Prime Ministers reached an agreement on the number of Committees of Senior Officials (CSO) and a possibility to create task forces for implementation of specific tasks in the areas not covered by the CSOs. Joint communiqué (04.09.2004); Latvia's Presidency at the Baltic Council of Ministers in 2004; The Cabinet of Ministers (04.10.2004); Ministry of Foreign Affairs (04.10.2004)

 

 

4 October 2004

Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, Brian Carlson, to discuss the current issues of cooperation.
Mr Artis Pabriks shared his impressions of the visit to the United States, where he had met with a number of influential senators in Washington. The minister attested that he had urged the senators to respond to Latvia's efforts to achieve easing of the U.S. visa regime.
Mr Pabriks thanked the Ambassador for the decision taken by the US Congress to allocate extra funds for Latvia's military needs, including military education and training programmes.
During the meeting, regional cooperation was also discussed. Mr Carlson highly appreciated Latvia's contribution to the strengthening of democracy in its neighbouring countries. He also informed the minister about the planned activities to attract U.S. entrepreneurs to the Latvian and regional markets and expand the economic cooperation. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (04.10.2004)

5 - 6 October 2004

Official visit to Latvia by Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Kostantyn Gryschenko


7 - 9 October 2004

State visit to Kazakhstan by the President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga


7 - 9 October 2004

Prime Minister Indulis Emsis participates in the summit of the ASEM in Hanoi, Viet Nam


11 - 12 October 2004

Minister of Foreign Affairs Artis Pabriks participates in the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg


13 - 14 October 2004

Official visit to Latvia by the President of Georgia H.E. Mikheil Saakashvili


18 - 20 October 2004

State visit by the President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga to Spain


 

IN BRIEF

Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Russian Ambassador to Latvia 

On 29 September 2004 Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Artis Pabriks hosted a farewell dinner for the Russian Ambassador to Latvia, Igor Stoudennikov.

During the meeting, Minister Pabriks thanked the Ambassador for his contribution to the development of relations between Latvia and Russia and wished him success in his future professional activities. The Minister expressed the hope that Mr Stoudennikov would consider visiting Latvia in the future as well.

Both officials expressed their interest in a pragmatic and constructive further development of Latvian-Russian relations, for which addressing the unresolved issues one by one would be essential.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (29.09.2004)

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Artis Pabriks becomes Président d'Honneur of the North Atlantic Council

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer informed the ambassadors of NATO countries that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Artis Pabriks has become Président d'Honneur of the North Atlantic Council.

The honorary presidency of the North Atlantic Council is rotated yearly. Président d'Honneur fulfils representative functions at meetings of NATO foreign ministers. An honorary president can also be asked to voice an opinion on behalf of all NATO foreign ministers on various festive occasions.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (01.10.2004)

 

Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs condemns the issuance of postal envelopes dedicated to Herberts Cukurs 

Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Artis Pabriks, expressed his condemnation of the issuance of postal envelopes dedicated to Herberts Cukurs. According to Mr Pabriks, those who produced such envelopes in Latvia evidently do not understand the tragic history of World War II in Latvia or in Europe. 

It is important to recognize that Herberts Cukurs was not simply a talented pilot. He was also guilty of war crimes: during World War II, he took part in the activities of the notorious Arajs Commando, which participated in the Holocaust and was responsible for the killing of innocent civilians. The General Prosecutor's Office of Latvia has twice rejected the exoneration of Herberts Cukurs.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (29.09.2004)


Director of the Stanford Institute for International Studies visits Latvia 

On 30 September 2004, the State President Vaira Vike-Freiberga had a meeting with professor Coit Blacker, Director of the Stanford Institute for International Studies and the President of the Riga Stanford Club, Kristaps Zarins. Professor Blacker acknowledged the rapid growth of Latvia and the Baltic states after the fall of the "iron curtain" and regaining of national independence. He expressed his joy over the active relationship between Latvia and the Stanford University, as well as praised Latvian students for their excellent level of preparedness.

On 1 October 2004, the symposium "NATO and the European Union: Contribution by the Baltic States" was held. Professor Coit Blacker was also addressing the symposium. Afterwards there was a discussion led by Atis Lejins, Director of Latvian Institute of International Affairs.  The symposium took place at the Soros Auditorium, Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (30.09.2004);
President's Chancery (30.09.2004)

 

Board of Orders established

On 4 October 2004, the Board of Orders (Ordenu kapituls) convened for its first meeting in the Riga Castle. From now on, this body will be responsible for awarding of the high rewards of distinction in Latvia - the Three Star Order, Viesturs Order and the Cross of Acknowledgement. The meeting discussed the legal framework for the Board's work and agreed on the principles and agenda of the further work.

Chancellor of the Board of Orders is the Latvian Ambassador to Germany, Martins Virsis. Board's members are: Prime Minister, Indulis Emsis, president of the "Latvijas Mobilais Telefons" SIA, Juris Binde, poetess Mara Zalite, Director of the Disaster Medicine Centre of the Ministry of Health, Martins Sics, director of the National Library of Latvia, Andris Vilks, and Dean of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Latvia, Juris Calitis.

The Board of Orders is responsible for supervising and dealing with affairs of state decorations, review of the proposals for awarding and other issues related to state awards. The Board will decide on awarding of state awards and renunciation of state awards.

The Latvian State Law on Awards states that the following awards exist in Latvia:  Viesturs Order, Cross of Acknowledgement, Memorial Sign of Participants of the Barricades of 1991 and the Three Star Order, which is the highest state award in Latvia. Viesturs Order is awarded for military merits and outstanding achievements in upholding of national security and public order. As a protocol award, the Viesturs Order can be awarded to foreign diplomats upon conclusion of their service in Latvia.

The Cross of Acknowledgement is awarded for outstanding merits in state, public, cultural, scientific and educational affairs. The Cross of Acknowledgement is awarded for well-accomplished and honest work. The Memorial Sign of Participants of the Barricades of 1991 is awarded to participants of the barricades in January and August of 1991 for valour, altruism and initiative, for contribution to organisational work and supply of resources, and also to persons who have either morally of materially supported the participants of the barricades.

The Three Star Order is awarded for distinguished accomplishments in state, municipal, public, cultural, educational or scientific work, as well as achievements in sports.

President's Chancery (01.10.2004);
LETA (05.10.2004)


DEFENCE ISSUES

NAF Commander visits soldiers of Latvian contingent deployed to Iraq 

From 28 to 29 September 22004, Commander of the National Armed Forces, Vice-Admiral Gaidis Andrejs Zeibots visited the soldiers of the Latvian contingent (LC) deployed in the Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

During the visit, there was a ceremony held to read the Order of the Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga and award the military grade of Colonel Lieutenant to the LC Commander Eriks Naglis. The NAF Commander has handed insignia of Lieutenant Colonel to the LC Commander Eriks Naglis.

There are 133 Latvian contingent soldiers deployed to international peace-keeping operation Iraqi Freedom. There is one soldier in the Staff of the Multinational Corps in Baghdad, four soldiers, six experts of explosive ordnance disposal, four medics and nine soldiers of Security Platoon in the Staff of Multinational Division Centre South in Babylon, three soldiers in the Battalion Staff in Al Hilla, 103 soldiers in Infantry Company in Al Hilla, and three soldiers of National Logistics unit in Al Hilla. 

Ministry of Defence (27. - 28.09.2004); (30.09.2004)
 


ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS

Minister of Finance submits budget project for 2005 to the Parliament

On 28 September 2004, the Latvian Minister of Finance, Oskars Spurdzins, submitted the budget portfolio for the year 2005 to the Latvian Parliament (the Saeima) after it was accepted by the Cabinet of Ministers. The portfolio, which the Minister used for carrying the budget project to the Saeima for the eighth time, also included the draft laws attached to the budget project, explanations of the budget, as well as the protocol of disaccord and agreement between the Cabinet and Latvian municipalities.

The budget project was approved by the Cabinet on September 23. The planned budget revenue for 2005 is LVL 2.58 billion, while the planned budget expenditure is LVL 2.73 billion. Therefore, the budget deficit is maintained at the level of LVL 160 million or 2% of the GDP, which is in line with the Maastricht criteria.

In comparison with 2004, the total planned revenue has increased by LVL 542 million or 26.6%. The planned expenditure has grown by LVL 532 million or 24.2%. 

Ministry of Finance (27.09.2004)


Bulgarian specialists learn of the Latvian experience of EU funds utilisation

From 27 September to 1 October 2004, Latvia was visited by the management of the Bulgarian National Foundation, Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development and agencies utilising EU funding. The Bulgarian delegation came to Latvia to borrow from the experience of Latvian state institutions in administration of EU pre-accession funding, accreditation of the administration system and launch of the structural fund utilisation system.

The interest of the current EU candidate countries to learn from the Latvian experience of utilisation of pre-accession funds is an evidence of international recognition of the work accomplished in Latvia by now. This work has resulted in accreditation of the involved Latvian institutions by the European Commission (EC), i.e. the EC authorisation to independently introduce the EC-funded programmes without involvement of EC services. This is a sign of Latvian government institutions acquiring a new level of quality - from the previous status of receivers of foreign assistance to the status of assistance providers and consultants.

Ministry of Finance (27.09.2004)


Minister of Economics visits Moscow

From 30 September to 1 October 2004, the Latvian Minister of Economics, Juris Lujans, went on a working visit to Moscow, accompanied by the Director of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIDA), Juris Kanels, representatives of the Ministry of Economics and Latvian companies.

In his address to the International Industry and Business Congress in Moscow, the minister Lujans noted that Russia has always been and is one of Latvia's key trade partners. In 2003, Russia ranked 7th in the list of Latvia's largest international trade partners. J. Lujans emphasized the need to promote cooperation between businesses by highlighting three major aspects of the Latvian economy - openness, dynamism and modernity.

During the visit, Juris Lujans had a meeting with representatives of the Moscow Chamber of Trade and Industry. In this meeting, the opportunities of improvement of cooperation between businesses of the two countries were discussed. The Director of LIDA, Juris Kanels, signed an agreement of cooperation with the president of the International Industry and Business Congress, Viktor Glukih.

Ministry of Economics (01.10.2004)


Latvian delegation attends the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

From 30 September to 4 October 2004, Latvian delegation headed by the President of the Bank of Latvia, Ilmars Rimsevics, participated in the annual meeting of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, USA.

This year, the annual WB and IMF meeting was addressed by Lithuanian representatives who did it on the behalf of all three Baltic states. In 2003, it was the Latvian Minister of Finance who addressed this meeting on behalf of the Baltics.

During the meeting, the Latvian delegation participated in the official WB and IMF workshops. Members of the delegation had separate meetings with heads of international finance institutions and representatives of management of several international banks.

Also, during the visit, the Latvian delegation visited the old and new building of the Latvian Embassy in the USA, met the Embassy staff, as well as visited the Latvian Congregation House in Washington, where the Minister of Finance, Oskars Spurdzins, addressed the Latvian community of Washington.

Ministry of Finance (29.09.2004)


Latvian projects co-financed by the EU structural funds receive first funding 

In the capacity of the Payment authority involved in implementation system of the EU structural funds, the Latvian State Treasury has cleared the first payment for a project co-funded by the EU structural funds as LVL 732 thousand were received by the national programme "Development of 1st class state motorways" co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The order of payment was submitted to the State Treasury by the second level intermediary institution, the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (CFCA). CFCA is responsible for supervision of projects, including financial checks, checks of pay-back requests of structural funding, preparation of declarations of expenditure, provision for return of funding to the recipients and accounting for the utilised funding. The State Treasury, as a Payment agency, is responsible for checking if the requested expenditure is correct and based on verifiable documents and if all necessary requirements have been observed. The Latvian Ministry of Transport is in charge of the national programme "Development of 1st class state motorways".

ERDF is one of the key tools of implementation of the EU regional policy. The aim of ERDF is to provide assistance to regional cohesion by participating in facilitation of development and structural cohesion in the less-favoured regions of the EU.

Ministry of Finance (05.10.2004)

 

Delegation of Baden-Wurttemberg visits Latvia

On 4 October 2004, the Latvian Minister of Economics, Juris Lujans, received E. Pfister, the Minister of Economics of the federal land of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. In the meeting, the ministers discussed aspects of the current cooperation as well as addressed opportunities of cooperation in the future.

The Minister of Economics of Baden-Wurttemburg pointed out that "Latvia's accession to the EU will serve as strong catalyst for cooperation between the parties". The minister emphasized that the current bilateral cooperation is steadily developing.

In the meeting, the deputy Director of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIDA), Andris Ozols, informed the Baden-Wurttemberg delegation of the activities of LIDA, as well as highlighted the advantages of business environment in Latvia - the country's geographical location, ice-free ports, as well as rail and road links to Russia.

Cooperation between Latvia and Baden-Wurttemberg began in 1991. Germany has been the largest investor in Latvian processing industry since year 2000, woodworking and food production being the industries that have attracted the most investments. Currently, there are about 900 German companies successfully operating in Latvia.

Ministry of Economics (05.10.2004)

  


LATEST STATISTICS  

Riga International Airport's passenger turnover amounted to 753,925 passengers in the nine months of year 2004, 41.7% up from the respective period in 2003 (531,874 passengers). 20,148 flights were registered at the airport in the nine months of year 2004, a 40.7% increase from 14,315 flights in the first nine months of 2003. The airport's cargo turnover fell 13.7%, from 8,295 tons in the first nine months of 2003 to 7,160 tons at end-September year 2004.  Year 2003, 711,753 passengers were counted at the Riga International Airport which is 12.4 % more than in year 2002 (633,322 passengers). LETA (01.10.2004)

This September, the revenue of the general budget has significantly exceeded the expenditure, thus leaving a financial and fiscal surplus. This surplus has provided for growth of the fiscal surplus in the state general budget in all 9 months of 2004, reports the State Treasury in its operative report on budget performance in September. The budget revenue in September amounted to LVL 132.5 million, while the expenditure was LVL 112.8 million. The financial surplus was LVL 19.7 million. The total revenue of the general budget from January to September 2004 is LVL 999.9 million, and the expenditure is LVL 983.2 million with a financial surplus of LVL 16.65 million and fiscal surplus of LVL 37.75 million. The revenue of the social budget in September amounted to LVL 56.7 million, the expenditure was LVL 58.8 million. The total revenue of the social budget in January to September 2004 is LVL 501 million, the expenditure is LVL 464.4 million, and the financial surplus is LVL 36.6 million. The official performance data of the state total budget (the consolidated state budget and municipal budgets) will be announced later in October. Ministry of Finance (05.10.2004)


EXCHANGE RATES



SOCIETY, SPORTS AND CULTURE

Forum of Young Scientists meets for the first time

On 29 September 2004, the Forum of Young Scientists convened for the first time.

Meeting once every month over the next year, the Forum will evaluate Latvia's position, opportunities and risks in the process of globalisation while considering Latvia as a national state with its national interests, both as a participant of the global system with a joint international agenda.

The forum unites 23 people from various fields of science. The notion of "young" in its title does not refer only to the age of Forum's members, but to new ideas, approaches and ways of communication between scientists, as well. The challenge of the Forum is to provide new topics of research that are important for Latvia, as well as develop alternative viewpoints and ideas. The Forum is chaired by doctor of political sciences Gunda Ignatane and politologist and TV editor Gints Grube.

The Forum operates in the framework of the Strategic Analysis Commission, established on 2 April 2004 at the initiative of the Latvian State President Vaira Vike-Freiberga after the President signed a joint decree with the Prime Minister Indulis Emsis.

President's Chancery (30.09.2004)


Latvian pop group "The Hobos" performs in Germany

From 29 September to 1 October 2004, Latvian pop/rock group "The Hobos" participated in the international Music & Entertainment fair "PopKomm". Along performers from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg, "The Hobos" performed in one of the most popular clubs of Berlin, Kulturbrauerei, Club 23, on the night of October 1. The club was the central stage of the fair.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (30.09.2004)


Latvian Institute publishes brochure on Latvia's scientific and cultural achievements

The Latvian Institute (LI) has published a new brochure, "The World Knows Latvia by... Inventors from Latvia. Scientific, Cultural and other Achievements". The brochure is in English and, as for other materials of the LI, its aim is to promote Latvia's image in the world. Raimonds Ceruzis is the author of the brochure; Uldis Sosnovskis created the brochure's design.

The new brochure provides an insight into merits of Latvia's most famous scientists, inventors, adventurers, representatives of culture, sports and business.

The Latvian Institute (01.10.2004)


Latvia and Croatia signs cultural cooperation programme for 2004 to 2006

On 4 October 2004, the Latvian Minister of Culture, Helena Demakova, and her Croatian counterpart, Bozo Biskupic, signed cultural cooperation programme between Latvia and Croatia for years 2004 to 2006.

The programme was signed in order to further implement the agreement between the Latvian and Croatian governments on cooperation in culture, which was signed on 22 October 1999 in Zagreb.

The cooperation programme envisages that the Culture ministries of both countries promote direct cooperation between culture and art institutions, professional organisations and associations, as well as supports mutual participation in music, dance and theatre festivals, international art exhibitions, international forums and contests, and other non-commercial events that are held in either of the countries.

During the visit, minister Demakova had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Croatia, Dr. Ivo Sanader. "Closer cooperation between the countries will begin at short notice. Following the [signed] programme, an exhibition of Latvian contemporary photography will open in Croatia in the end of this year," said Helena Demakova.

Ministry of Culture (04.10.2004)

 

Blumbergs' exhibition "The drawings are in the box. A prayer for seeing" to be open in Venice 

On 16 October 2004 an opening of the exhibition by Ilmars Blumbergs "The drawings are in the box. A prayer for seeing", an extended element within the art project "The Drawings are in the box" created especially for the Oratorio di san Ludovico, will be opened in Venice.

The exhibition will present a group of works created especially for this occasion - 21 pair of prayers' legs in bronze fixed in the altar and around the gallery - a symbol of a praying man. Man as a box of the universe - replete with dormant, sleeping drawings - images. 18 large-scale photographs will cover the walls of the gallery, disclosing the human body covered in ashes, the human body as a box for the universe - full of unexpected/unperceived forms. A 50-metre long continuous drawing "A prayer for seeing" installed on the drawing-scrolling machine, which recalls mechanised projects from the Renaissance era will be installed in centre of the gallery. The viewer will never see more than just a part/fragment of the drawing/prayer, thus he or she will need to construct/see/predict its entirety in his or her own head/box.

All of this will be accompanied with the drawing in motion - new video work "Man" that will occupy one of the smaller gallery rooms as well as the sound drawing - musical composition by Latvian minimalist composer Janis Petraskevics that will fill the whole gallery space.  

Ilmars Blumbergs explains: "The inner philosophy/logic of this exhibition is bold and simple. It is a statement/reminder that drawings/art is present/created in your head/your box. The drawings/art as objects that exist outside of you theoretically should die, in order that the true drawings/art could be reborn within you. Art and reality are merely a structuring of the world performed by another individual/creator and therefore cannot be perceived directly. In order to be able to see this structuring/drawings, you should try to overcome the common and directly visible opposition/the truth. Relatively speaking - you should open your box/head to a new experience/belief. In order to see, you should be able to see!"

Ilmars Blumbergs (born in 1943) is one of the leading Latvian contemporary artists working in variety of genres - painting, graphics, scenography, video, performance and sculpture. He has been internationally acclaimed for his paintings, poster works and also for his magnificent scenography and set designs for Latvian National opera plays - Mozart's "Magic flute" and Verdi's "Aida". Ilmars Blumbergs also have represented Latvia in the 49th Venice biennale in year 2001, with his video work "The magic flute", displayed in Chiesa San Lio.

The exhibition is produced for Nuova Icona by Andris Brinkmanis, Ilmars Blumbergs and with support from the Cultural Endowment of Latvia, Airbaltic, Arctic paper, XY design, Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in Italy. The show is curated by Andris Brinkmanis. 

Nuova Icona, Venezia: tel/fax 00 39 041 521 0101; http://www.nuovaicona.org



CALENDAR OF ARTS EVENTS 

6 October 2004

Opening of solo exhibition of paintings by Inga Bruvere, Riga, Artists Union Gallery

8 October 2004

Concert by Goran Bregovic, Riga, Kipsala Hall, 9158585

16 October  - 21 November 2004

Opening of solo exhibition bu Ilmars Blumbergs "The Drawings are in the box", Venice, Oratorio di san Ludovico, http://www.nuovaicona.org

30 September - 10 October 2004

Autumn session of the 2nd Russian Film Festival, Riga, venues: Moscow House and cinema "K.Suns", 7039000

Until 10 October 2004

Solo exhibition by Kristine Keire, Agija Suna Art Gallery, 7087543

Until 12 October 2004

Exhibition by Ieva Markevica-Caruka and Aigars Zemitis (graphics and sculptures), Riga, Gallery XO, 9482098

Until 17 October 2004

Exhibition of paintings by Uno Danilevskis "Forty years ago", Riga, Gallery BonhanS.S, 7223213, bonhans@inbox.lv 

Until 20 October 2004

Exhibition "Finnish Graphic Arts", Riga, Gallery "Bastejs", 7225050

Until 30 October 2004

Exhibition by Jekabs Zvilna (Canada) "All in one", Riga, Latvian Museum of Photography, 7227231

Until 31 October 2004

Exhibition of paintings "Eduards Kalnins - 100", Riga, State Art Museum

Until 31 October 2004

Solo exhibition by Jazeps Pigoznis "Graphics and Medals", Riga, State Art Museum

22 October - 6 November 2004

The New Music Festival "Arena", Riga

10 November 2004

Concert by Sandra Luna (Argentina), Riga, Latvian National Opera

Until 31 December 2004

Exhibition by Latvian Textile Artists Association "Coloured stories", Riga, Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, 7356681



Information bulletin "Current Latvia" is a compilation of press releases and news reports drawn from the media and official sources. Not all of the views published reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.