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Latvian report Latvian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-28 09:18:50
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Latvian prime minister says IMF is "unpredictable partner"

Latvia remained 'on target' to adopt the euro in 2014, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said Thursday, but described the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as an 'unpredictable partner' in ongoing budget negotiations. Latvia is the recipient of a 7.5-billion-euro (10-billion-dollar) bailout loan from the IMF, the European Union and other lenders. The terms of that package are regarded as among the toughest devised during the global economic crisis, requiring savings equivalent to 16 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) since 2008.

The IMF believes Latvia's 2011 budget needs to find additional savings of 50 million lats (97 million dollars) in order to keep to an agreed budget deficit of less than 6 per cent of GDP. Dombrovskis voiced concern about the IMF's target numbers at an event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia. He said the lenders had revised the deficit target to 5.4 per cent and then lowered it again.

'Unfortunately, during our discussions with the IMF and European Commission we have discovered that 6 is not 6,' he said. 'Six is not even 5.4. Currently 6 is 5.4 minus 50 million lats.' Dombrovskis restated Latvia's hopes to adopt the euro in 2014 but acknowledged that meeting the Maastricht criterion on inflation would be difficult because it was a 'moving target.' The inflation target changes according to a formula based on the average of the three countries with the currency bloc's lowest rates. Dombrovskis predicted economic growth of 'at least' 3.3 per cent in 2011.


Latvia does now owe anything to Holocaust victims?

On January 27th, the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day. A scandal broke out in Europe on the threshold of this day with Latvia being the center of it. This small country in the Baltic region is not willing to return property to the Jews, nor does it want to pay compensations to the descendants of those, who suffered from the hands of Latvian fascists. Over 100,000 Jews were exterminated in Latvia during WWII, which was equal to 90 percent of the Jews, who lived in Latvia before the war broke out. Many of them were killed in Salaspils concentration camp. Latvian nationalists destroyed the majority of the Jews in the summer of 1941, before the country was occupied by German Nazis. Needless to say that the victims of Nazism were deprived of all their possessions.

It is an open secret that Latvia glorifies Nazi criminals. It is not only Russia and Latvian Russian-speaking politicians, but also international Jewish organizations that bring this issue to public attention. More than three years ago, Efraim Zuroff, an Israeli historian of American origin, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, criticized the Latvian authorities for their attitude to Nazi criminals. "Not a single Lithuanian, Latvian, or Estonian Nazi war criminal has been punished by a Baltic court since independence," he stated. Arkady Sukharenko, the leader of the Jewish community of Latvia, has recently stated that in 2006, the nation's parliament voted down the bill about the compensations to Holocaust victims. Sukharenko urged Israeli's foreign minister to look into the questions of restitution in Latvia in detail.

The West preferred to ignore the events in Latvia for years. Europe and the USA treated this country as a victim of "Soviet occupation." Moreover, Latvia became the new eastern platform for the EU and NATO. It seems that the situation is changing now. The US Department of State's Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Douglas Davidson has recently visited Latvia and urged the local authorities to pay $60 million of compensations to the Jews for the property lost during the war. The official said that he was not setting any deadlines for anyone. He only asked the government and people of Latvia to acknowledge that the property had been confiscated from the members of the Jewish community. His request triggered quite a reaction among the politicians of Latvia. It turned out that even the members of the nation's largest party, Unity, did not have the unified approach to the issue of compensations for the Jews. Defense Minister Artis Pabriks stated that Latvia must return the property to the Jews.


Latvian Defence Minister to meet EU and NATO ambassadors

On January 26, regarding 90th anniversary of international de iure recognition of Republic of Latvia, Deputy Prime Minister, Latvian Minister of Defence Dr. Artis Pabriks will meet with ambassadors from European Union and NATO member states to discuss current events of the defence sector.

In this meeting Minister of Defence has planned to inform ambassadors about priorities in the defence sector, the budget and the implementation of tasks set in NATO Lisbon summit. Mr. Pabriks will provide an insight about participation of Latvian contingent in NATO led ISAF operation in Afghanistan. 
During this meeting the tasks of Deputy Prime Minister to prepare Latvia for EU Presidency in 2015 will also be discussed.

Ministry of Defence improves political dialogue with EU and NATO member states by organizing bilateral and international meetings and discussing current events and political issues.

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