Tag Archives: Latvia

Mamikins MEP challenges Latvian PM

MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS (Latvia) criticises disparities between slogans and realities of respect of human rights in Latvia, namely the situation of 12% of stateless inhabitants of the country, who are excluded from political life. There are around Soviet 200 000 inhabitants of Latvia who voted independence, but nowadays are forgotten, and they will not vote in upcoming European elections in May 2019.

Socialist MEP also raised an issue of conflict of interest of Prime minister Arturs Krisjanis KARINS, who keeps his American citizenship while chairing Latvian government. The interview was taken in Strasbourg after the debate between Latvian Prime minister and Members of European Parliament on Future of Europe. The debate has concluded the discussion between heads of states and government and MEPs on future of the EU.

Mr Kariņš was the twentieth EU head of state or government to debate the future of Europe with MEPs, the last one in this parliamentary term.

Latvian PM shares vision of Future of Europe

The EU needs to strengthen the its core principles, Latvian Prime Ministers Krišjānis Kariņš said in the debate on the Future of Europe, on April 17 at European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg.

Kariņš suggested four main fields of EU action: completing the Single Market, controlling external borders, undertaking a smart transition towards clean energy and boosting security. “Don’t fight the populists, address the causes of people’s malcontent,Prime Minister said. With people worrying about their jobs, the EU needs to sharpen its main tool for job creation – the Single Market. Europe needs to foster “National Champions” by opening up the Single Market, not embarking on a Chinese way of protectionism. “We need to continue to tear down the barriers to the Single Market. This is what will create more jobs and more wealth in Europe,” he said, singling out digital industry and services as the two main fields of action.

To avoid re-erecting internal borders and allow for an unhindered Single Market, the EU needs to shore up its external borders, control migration and make sure people arriving in the EU accept European values. “It is extremely important to maintain our national identities. Arrivals need to adapt themselves,” Mr Kariņš said, suggesting that Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency need to be beefed up further.

“If we truly want to increase the share of renewable energy in our system, we need to open up markets and deregulate prices. Consumer choice is what can best drive energy transition,” the Latvian PM suggested. “By opening electricity markets to competition and market prices, we can greatly increase the uptake in renewable energy sources and increase energy efficiency.”

My country spends 2% of its GDP on the military. I believe we all should. But we also need to work on strengthening our information defence”, PM Kariņš said, adding that new legislation could help to hold social media platforms to account for allowing disinformation to spread .

The Prime minister had discussion with MEPs, many of whom knew him as a colleague in the European Parliament.  

However Prime minister has been also confronted with harsh criticism for disparity between his speech and realities.  Lativian MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS raised a range of problems, including double citizenship of Mr.Kariņš, who kept his American passport while being head of Latvian government. MEP Mamikins pointed to the chronic situation of conflict of interests.

Today was the prime Minister of Mr. Kariņas to participate in the ES future debate. The Prime minister spoke of the diversity in Europe and the need to fight dirty money. In return, I offer the prime_minister to look in the mirror”, MEP MAMIKINS said.

Israel strengthens ties with Baltic Republics

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his visit in Lithuania, saying he hoped to deepen ties with eastern EU nations as Brussels blasted Israel’s plans for fresh settlements in the West Bank.

Dozens of Pro-Palestinian activists waved Palestinian flags and chanted that Netanyahu was “not welcome” while railing against Lithuania‘s ties with Israel outside government buildings in the capital Vilnius, where he held talks with his Lithuanian counterpart Saulius Skvernelis.

Netanyahu thanked Skvernelis for the “strong position you’ve taken in forums of the EU on behalf of truth, on behalf of Israel, on behalf of decency“.

Israel is often mistreated by the EU in Brussels, there are many distortions that are levelled at us, and it is refreshing to see that you take a stand of clarity, of truth and of courage, and we discussed how that can be expanded,Netanyahu added.

Israel approved plans for more than 1,000 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank prompting EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic to say that the bloc was “strongly opposed” to Israel’s “illegal” settlement policy, calling it “an obstacle to peace”.

The settlements “would further jeopardise the prospect of a contiguous and viable future Palestinian state,”  Kocijancic continued.

Netanyahu said he wanted “to achieve a balance in the European Union’s not always friendly relations with Israel” ahead of the the first-ever visit by an Israeli premier to Lithuania.

Israeli PM will meet the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in Vilnius  during the visit, which is set to last until Sunday, August 26.

MFA reacts to expel of Russian journalists from Lativa

Latvian authorities grossly violate its international obligations of respecting the freedom of speech, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said reacting on Riga’s decision to expel journalists working for Russian TV network, Anatoly Kurlayev (pictured) and his wife Olga, according to TASS news agency.

“The official Riga grossly violates its international legal obligations in the field of ensuring the freedom of expression, tramples under foot the founding acts of the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe,” she said.

Zakharova added that “it is absolutely obvious that the Latvian authorities with the silent support from Brussels pursue the objective of fully clearing the country’s information space of unwanted media.”

“We will spare no effort to have relevant international institutions provide due reaction to that,” she stressed. “We call on non-government organizations specializing in the freedom of speech to give adequate assessment of Latvia’s actions, which are unacceptable for a democratic society.”

According to the Russian diplomat, attempts at explaining the journalists’ expulsion by alleging that they are a threat to Latvia’s national security “smack of the totalitarian times of the 1930s in Spain and Germany.”

 Zakharova also mentioned “official Paris is planning to toughen control over social networks. This initiative was put forth by President Macron, who, by the way, is personally hampering the work of Russian journalists in France.”

 

NATO requests broader monitoring of Russia and Belarus

Russia and Belarus say the Zapad 2017 exercise, which runs from September 14-20 not far from the borders of NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, will involve less than 13,000 troops, but NATO believes that number will actually be into six figures. Under international rules, the two should allow wider access to monitors if troop numbers exceed that figure.

NATO officials said there will be three experts on mission to observe military exercises between Russia and Belarus, but alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants the two countries to allow broader monitoring.

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said the three experts will attend so-called Visitors’ Days in Belarus and Russia after they were invited to attend.

But she said international rules permit monitors to have much wider access, including briefings on the exercise, opportunities to talk to soldiers and overflights.

Estonia controls border with Lativa

This week, the Police and Border Guard Department of Estonia will introduce temporary control of documents on the internal border of the EU between Estonia and Latvia to test the capabilities of its services, as well as cooperation with its southern neighbour.

The press service of the Police and Border Guard Department confirms that the exercises that begin on Tuesday, 7.06.2017, and will focus on logistics and resource planning,

According to the official Helen Neyder-Weerme, four checkpoints will be temporarily opened on Tuesday, the 7th  and Wednesday  the 8th of June, on the land border of Estonia and Latvia – in the city of Valga, as well as in Myizakyla, Vastse-Roosa, Murati and Ikla.

In addition, extra patrols will be sent to the border areas, which will conduct a random check of vehicles and documents, as well as gather information concerning the movement of people.

On June 6 and 7, all those crossing the border of Estonia and Latvia need to be prepared for possible checks of documents and vehicles, said Nader-Weerme.

Riga’s Mayor Ushakov renews his mandate

The combined list, headed by the current mayor of Riga, Nil Ushakov, has retained the majority in Latvia’s capital – Riga, although they lost seven seats in Saturday, 3.06.2017, elections, TASS agency reports referring to the CEC. The local government elections were watched closely by Russian community in Latvia, where around 200 000 persons  haven’t been granted citizenship since times of the collapse of the USSR. Although they are were not allowed to participate in voting they celebrated the result, with the renewed mandate to Russian-speaking Latvian Nil Ushakov.

On Sunday, the CEC summarized the results from all 158 polling stations in Riga. The Coalition of Parties “Consent / Honor to serve Riga” won 50.85% of the vote and will receive 32 mandates in the new Duma. In the previous municipal elections, according to the results of which only three parties passed to Duma, Ushakov’s list gained more than 58% and got 39 seats.

In the current Duma will be represented by five parties. In addition to supporters of the mayor, there are candidates of the Latvian Association of Regions (LOR) and the party “For the Development of Latvia”, which received 13.66% of the vote, the New Conservative Party (NCP) – 13.41% of the vote, the National Union “All for Latvia” – “Homeland” And Freedom “(TL-TB / DNNL) – 9.24% and” Unity “- 6.26%. The ENT and the NCP receive nine mandates, “All for Latvia” – six, and “Unity” – four.

On Saturday, 3.06.2017, municipal elections took place in Latvia, nine parties took part in contest for chairing Riga. A total of 1.444 million citizens were registered in the electoral lists. At the same time, as TASS recalls, hundreds of thousands of Latvian “non-citizens”, mainly Russian-speaking residents of the country, are still deprived of the right to vote.

Russian mass media celebrates the victory of the Russian-speaking Mayor.