Weekly Summary of News in Latvia

CURRENT LATVIA

24 - 31 July 2000
Wk. 31 / 2000 (360)


ESSENTIAL FOREIGN POLICY EVENTS

  • Officials Foresee Further Expansion of Latvian-Czech Interstate Dialogue

GENERAL

  • Latvias Position with Regard to the Issues Referred to in the Speech of the Foreign Secretary of the UK, Mr. Robin Cook, on July 25, 2000 in Budapest

  • Comment of the Press Centre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia on the Statement N° 717 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation of July 28, 2000

  • Global Russian Press Forum Russians in Europe: Integration - Society, Culture, Business Held in Latvia

SCHEDULED VISITS AND ACCREDITATIONS

 

HOME AFFAIRS

  • Latvia's Customs to Co-operate with the United States

  • Officials Highly Praise the National Environmental Health Centre

ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS

  • Further Decrease in Unemployment Rate

SOCIETY, EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS

  • French Film Star Catherine Deneuve to Preside over Film Festival in Latvia

  • Calendar of Arts Events


    ESSENTIAL FOREIGN POLICY EVENTS

    Officials Foresee Further Expansion of Latvian-Czech Interstate Dialogue

    July 27 - 30, President of the Republic of Latvia Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga paid a visit to the Czech Republic, where she had meetings with Speaker of the Senate of the Czech Parliament Mrs. Libuse Benesova and Prime Minister Mr. Milos Zeman as well as visited the headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and delivered a lecture at the Charles University in Prague. The officials discussed expanding of Latvian-Czech interstate dialogue in various fields, including in the process of integration into the EU and NATO, as well as intensification of economic co-operation.

    The parties praised the intense and fruitful co-operation between Latvia and the Czech Republic, including the active contacts between the parliamentarians of the two countries. Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga noted that the Czech Republic is one of the closest European partner countries to Latvia with historic co-operation traditions dating back to the first decades of the 20th century. Speaking on the European Union and NATO, the President noted that enlargement of these organisations is a historic process and a unique opportunity for the reunification of Europe, thus strengthening stability in the continent. Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga expressed her gratitude to the Czech Republic for support and assistance to Latvia on its way to NATO membership. The Czech side assured the Latvian President of further Czech support to Latvia in the process of preparation for the membership in the Alliance. The officials agreed that the successful Latvian-Czech economic co-operation should be expanded further. Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga stressed that Latvia and the Czech Republic could also develop a fruitful co-operation in the field of fight against economic crimes - corruption and smuggling, which is an important precondition for development of a sound society and economic growth in the country.

    During the visit to the headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Prague Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga had a meeting with RFE/RL President Mr. Thomas A. Dine, as well as participated in a discussion on current issues and future goals of Latvia. In her address to the participants of the discussion the President of State underscored the remarkable role of RFE/RL in strengthening of democracy both during the Cold War and in the post-Cold War era.

    Presidents Press Service

     

    GENERAL

    Latvias Position with Regard to the Issues Referred to in the Speech of the Foreign Secretary of the UK, Mr. Robin Cook, on July 25, 2000 in Budapest

    In his speech in Budapest on 25 July, Mr. Robin Cook emphasised the consolidating and stabilising effects of the EU enlargement. Latvia fully aligns itself with this position, as reminding of the primarily goals of the enlargement process allows to remain on track and maintain the dynamism of the process.

    Latvia welcomes also the UKs position that all new Member States should take part in the next IGC anticipated some time after the Nice summit.

    The Helsinki Councils decisions confirm the political importance of the EU enlargement providing equal opportunities to all candidates in the accession process. Therefore we appreciate Mr. Cooks emphasis on individual treatment of each applicant country.

    The Helsinki EU Council also succeeded to set the internal target date for the EUs preparedness to accept the first new Member States: 1 January 2003. Parallel to this, all the candidate states have set their own internal target dates. Compliance with their own target dates, as well as maintenance of the pace and quality of internal reforms are each candidates own responsibility.

    Dynamism of the negotiation process will be maintained by a constructive approach of the EU Member States and the applicant states. This involves implementation and enforcement of the EU acquis by the applicants, and a strict application of the Helsinki and Feira decisions by the Member States. Individual approach and opening of all remaining negotiating chapters as early as possible next year would allow to reach the point of no return with regard to the outmoded grouping of candidates.

    Mr. Cook refers to the necessity to continue the process of reforming the Common Agricultural Policy. Indeed, an early agreement of the EU Member States about the conditions on which they would discuss the chapters involving substantial negotiating issues would contribute to a smooth negotiation process.

    Latvia notes with satisfaction the UKs increasing involvement in the promotion of the enlargement process. In this context we will appreciate a continued concrete UKs involvement in the accession process of Latvia to the EU.

    MFA

     

    Comment of the Press Centre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia on the Statement N° 717 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation of July 28, 2000

    Press officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Inese Millere emphasised that the concern expressed by the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation that the regulations of the State Language Law of Latvia could fail to meet international human rights standards was unsubstantiated.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia is satisfied with the constructive co-operation with international experts in elaborating these regulations. Integration of society is the priority of Latvian government and in view of Latvia's integration into Europe, it is a transparent and inclusive policy. On regular basis Latvian officials inform the heads and societies of partner countries on the policy of the integration of society in Latvia.

    Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia Mr. Andris Berzins described in detail the policy of integration of society in the conference "Russians in Europe" that took place in Riga recently.

    MFA

     

    Global Russian Press Forum Russians in Europe: Integration - Society, Culture, Business Held in Latvia

    July 25 - 29, a meeting of the Global Russian Press Associations executive committee, the international forum Russians in Europe: Integration - Society, Culture, Business was held in Riga. The opening session was addressed by Latvian Prime Minister Mr. Andris Berzins, while on July 27 President of State Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga welcomed the participants of the forum in her residence in Jurmala. During the event the problems of the Russian language mass media abroad, establishment of a joint Russian press electronic information network, advertising policy and other issues were discussed.

    Chief editors, publishers, and leading reporters of 50 Russian-language printed media in Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania and other countries took part in the forum. The forum was also joined by Russian government officials, influential politicians and civil servants, including First Deputy Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Mrs. Lubov Sliska, Deputy Minister of Culture Mr. Pavel Horoshilov, and others.

    The international non-governmental organisation Global Russian Press Association was established in 1999. The Association unites representatives of printed and electronic mass media, agencies, publishing houses, editorial staffs, television and radio programs in 63 countries. The first congress of the Association was held in Moscow last year, the second - in New York, while the third - in Riga and Jurmala. The Association is headed by ITAR-TASS Director General Mr. Vitaly Ignatenko.

    LETA

     

    SHEDULED VISITS AND ACCREDITATIONS

    Foreign Officials:
    August 15 - 18

    Working visit of U.S. Congress councillors

     

    Foreign Ambassadors:
    July 1 - 31

    Farewell visits of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Finland H.E. Mr. Hannu Hamalainen
    July 11 - August 31

    Farewell visits of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Sweden H.E. Mr. Hans Magnusson
    August 2 - 3

    Working visit of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan H.E. Mr. Takeshi Fujii

     

    HOME AFFAIRS

    Latvia's Customs to Co-operate with the United States

    July 26, co-operation between the United States and Latvia's customs services is launched to control the distribution of weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Aivars Krastins, Director of the Main Customs Board of the State Revenues Service told the reporters. On July 26 the United States gave a present to Latvia's customs - 20 X-ray detectors or radiation beepers, which is the first present within the co-operation programme. The United States will deliver different other technical equipment within the programme of co-operation. The co-operation with the United States will also include visits of U.S. experts to Latvia in order to provide training and to perform technical diagnostics and control. According to Mr. David Harrel, Director of the U.S. Customs International Training, the United States has launched a similar co-operation programme in Lithuania and Estonia as well.

    This week, a delegation of the U.S. Defence Department, the U.S. Customs Service and Federal Investigation Bureau visited Latvia in order to begin the co-operation. The assistance programme is sponsored by the U.S. Defence Department and it is worked out by the Federal Investigation Bureau and the U.S. Customs Service.

    BNS

     

    Norwegian Officials Highly Praise the National Environmental Health Centre

    July 27, Norwegian Health Ministry State Secretary Mr. Lars Erik Flato admitted after visiting the National Environmental Health Centre that the work of the centre and its laboratories is at a high professional level. During the meeting with the National Environmental Health Centres administration and representatives, Mr. Flato stressed the need for further co-operation, and possible financial backing for preventive measures and epidemiological supervision of infectious diseases in the Baltic states.

    Mr. Flato's visit to the centre was within the framework of the Council of the Baltic Sea States project. The project is geared toward boosting control over infectious diseases in the Baltic states. A task group, headed by Norway, has been established for this purpose.

    LETA

     

    ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS

    Further Decrease in Unemployment Rate

    According to the Latvian State Employment Board, by July 1, 2000 102.6 thsd active job-seekers are registered in the country (105.2 thsd on June 1, 2000). 100.6 thsd persons, or 8.4% of the economically active population, were considered as unemployed (on June 1, 2000 103.3 thsd and 8.6% respectively). On July 1, 1999, 122.4 thsd active job-seekers were registered in the country while 120.1 thsd persons were considered as unemployed. On July 1, 2000, compared with the beginning of the year the number of unemployed has decreased by 8.9 thsd persons.

    Central Statistical Bureau

     

    EXCHANGE RATES SET BY THE BANK OF LATVIA FOR JULY 31, 2000

    1 ATS

    1 AUD

    1 BEF

    1 CAD

    1 CHF

    1 CZK

    1 DEM

    1 DKK

    1 EEK

    1 EUR

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    0.0411 Ls

    0.3580 Ls

    0.0140 Ls

    0.4120 Ls

    0.3640 Ls

    0.0159 Ls

    0.2890 Ls

    0.0758 Ls

    0.0361 Ls

    0.5653 Ls

    1 FIM

    1 FRF

    1 GBP

    1 ILS

    1 LTL

    1 NOK

    1 RUB

    1 SEK

    1 SKK

    1 USD

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    -

    0.0951 Ls

    0.0862 Ls

    0.9170 Ls

    0.1480 Ls

    0.1520 Ls

    0.0688 Ls

    0.0218 Ls

    0.0666 Ls

    0.0133 Ls

    0.6060 Ls

    The exchange rates set by the Bank of Latvia:
    http://www.bank.lv/ValutuKursi/English/KVkursi/index.html

     

    INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL EXHIBITIONS

     

    August 5
    MADE IN BALTIA 2000
    , Baltic Exhibition-Fair; Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, Riga; 
    August 24 - 26

    MOTORWAYS 2000
    , International Exhibition for Road Construction, 24th International Baltic Road Conference; road designing, construction and maintenance, machinery, materials, road facilities, information, technical literature, training; International Exhibition Centre, Riga
    August 24 - 26

    FOOD FEST 2000
    , 2nd Regional Food Fair; food, food processing and packaging; Olympic Centre, Ventspils

    International and regional exhibitions in Latvia
    http://sun.lcc.org.lv/engl/tradefairs.html 
    http://www.lda.gov.lv/foreignbuyers/tradefairs/  

     

    SOCIETY, EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS

    French Film Star Catherine Deneuve to Preside over Film Festival in Latvia

    Famous French actress Catherine Deneuve will preside over the Baltic Pearl (Baltijas Perle) film festival to be held in the Latvian capital Riga from August 25 to 29 for the seventh consecutive year. Films-participants of the festival will be evaluated by an international jury to be chaired by German actor Klaus Maria Brandauer. Other members on the jury include world-famous Polish film director Krzisztof Zanoussi and other foreign celebrities as well as local stars Regina Razuma and Valdis Eglitis. Films-winners of other international festivals will join the competition at the Baltic Pearl and about 30 movies, including a number of films which took part in the Cannes festival last year, will be screened outside the competition.

    BNS

     

    CALENDAR OF ARTS EVENTS

     

    In Latvia:
    June 2 - September 10

    Latvian Decorative Art and Design of the 90s
    ; Museum of Decorative and Applied Art, 10/20 Skarnu Str., Riga; phone: (+371) 722 22 35
    June 15 - August 5

    Riga 2000
    , International Sculpture Quadrennial; exhibition hall Arsenals, 1 Tornu Str., Riga; phone: (+371) 721 36 95
    June 29 - August 6

    Latvian Contemporary Photography
    ; Latvian Photography Museum, 8 Marstalu Str., Riga; phone: (+371) 722 72 31
    July 29 - August 6

    The 8th Sigulda Opera Music Festival; phone/fax: (+371) 227 79 00, e-mail: sigulda.festival@lmuza.lv http://www.music.lv/sigulda/festival.htm
    July 31 - August 5

    Saulkrasti Jazz Festival 2000
    , Saulkrasti; http://www.saulkrastijazz.lv/
    August 12 

    Ballet Stars in Jurmala
    , International Ballet Festival; Dzintari Concert Hall, Dzintari, 1 Turaidas Str., Jurmala
    August 25 - 29

    Baltic Pearl
    , International Film Festival, Riga

    Latvian National Opera
    Information on the repertoire of the Latvian National Opera and the possibilities to book tickets on the Internet: http://www.opera.lv/ 

    Abroad:
    May 31 - August 31

    Latvian art exhibition Latvian Art: Textiles, Paintings, Graphics; the Castle of Austerlice, Czech Republic

     

    (For more information please contact the corresponding Embassy of Latvia)


    Information Bulletin "Current Latvia" is a compilation of news reports and press releases drawn from mass media and official resources. The material is primarily informative rather than representing the official policies of Latvia. Not all of the views published reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.