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Latvian report Latvian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-01-24 08:18:50
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Latvian Post board replaced ahead of market liberalisation

Latvian ministers have dismissed the board at Latvian Post, appointing a new three-person panel in its place to lead preparations as the country’s postal market is opened to competition. With a little under a year before Latvia is due to liberalise its postal market, in compliance with EU postal law, the Ministry of Transport dismissed chairman Aigars Vitols and board members Ilze Aleksandrovica, Ivo Lecis and Andrejs Vicups. In their place, Latvia Post employee Māris Kleinbergs has been appointed chairman of the new board, with Arnis Salnājs and Egons Strazdiņš as two other board members.

Outlining the changes, a statement from Latvian Post said its new chairman had an extensive background in business management, marketing and logistics, and had been working at the Post since 2006, running the shipment processing and delivery department including responsibility for mail sorting and transportation. A graduate of the Riga Technical University and Latvian University, before joining Latvian Post, Kleinbergs had industry roles including directorships at logistics firm Baltic Logistic Solutions and German wholesaler Ro-Exim, as well as time at Kuehne + Nagel heading up its Latvian office.

The two other new members of the Latvian board come with experience from the banking and legal sectors.  Salnājs, a Latvian University graduate, is currently studying for a Masters in construction law at London’s Kings College University, has worked in several law firms including Sorainen and Alfenus. Strazdiņš, also a Latvian University graduate with an MBA from the Riga Business Institute of Economics, was previously in the currency division of regional bank Swedbank Latvia.


NATO Secretary General praises Latvia as a committed NATO Ally

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Riga on 20 January 2012 and met with President Andris Berzins, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics and Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks.

During the visit, the Secretary General thanked Latvia for the commitment to defend the Alliance’s values of freedom and democracy and for its contribution to the Alliance’s ISAF operation in Afghanistan. “Your soldiers are helping to build a safer future in Afghanistan”, the Secretary General said. "Your ports and railways are our lifeline to Afghanistan. And every day, Latvia helps shape our decisions on every aspect of NATO’s work”.

The Secretary General took part in the ceremony at the Freedom Monument and Places of Rememberance in Riga, and laid flowers in memory of the Latvians killed by Soviet security forces during the struggle for the restoration of independence on this day in 1991. “The people of Latvia know that freedom does not come for free. You have fought for your liberty many times over the years. Your nation is a symbol of courage and commitment to the cause of freedom ," he said.  The Secretary General and Prime Minister Dombrovskis also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Latvia and NATO concerning Cooperation on Cyber Defence.


Latvian PM calls for ‘No’ Vote in Russian Language Referendum

Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis has called on citizens to oppose making Russian a second state language in the forthcoming referendum in February, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported. The statement came after the Baltic state’s Constitutional Court denied on Friday a petition by two governing parties to cancel the referendum, due on February 18. “I call on everyone to vote against [Nil] Ushakov and [Vladimir] Linderman’s initiative,” Dombrovskis told journalists later on Friday, referring to the Riga mayor, who has backed the referendum, and one of its initiators.

Russian-speakers make up 44% of Latvia's 2.3-million population. Latvian is the official state language and Russian is treated as a foreign language. Latvia’s Central Election Commission gathered signatures last November for a petition to hold a nationwide referendum on granting Russian official-language status. Over 187,000 eligible voters signed the petition, well above the minimum requirement of 154,379 signatures.

Latvian President Andris Berzins has called the referendum proposal a “deliberate incitement,” saying that its results “will not settle any of the important problems for the nation.” He said, however, that cancelling the referendum was a bad idea because this would “leave the question unanswered.” Last month, Berzins introduced a draft law to the parliament that envisioned amendments to the Constitution introducing a second state language in the country. Lawmakers rejected the measure.

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