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Latvian report Latvian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-09-20 09:31:07
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Latvian politicians’ fascination with Nazism seems everlasting

Latvia’s authorities have made another mark in propaganda of Nazism. On Monday, a monument to members of Latvia’s Waffen SS legion was unveiled in the Latvian town of Bausk. The inscription on the monument says: “To Bauska’s Defenders Against the Second Soviet Occupation.” For more than two decades the authorities of the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) have been speculating on the subject of the Soviet occupation. The radical politicians are using every opportunity to talk about the “dark times” of the Soviet presence in the Baltic countries. But if earlier such statements were regarded as a pass to the civilized world where people liked to reflect in the horrors of the Soviet regime today this topic will unlikely interest anyone.

Recently, Irina Yarovaya, head of the State Duma Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, said that the opening of the monument of members of Latvia’s Waffen SS legion was nothing but the rehabilitation of Nazism. Yarovaya says she is puzzled by the lack of reaction from the European parliament. However keeping silence has become typical of the EU even in more outrageous cases. “The impression is that many European institutions turn a blind eye on it and there is no need to expect any serious condemnation from them. In 99 out of 100 cases all proposals we hear from the EU in such cases have a permissive rather than mandatory character.” Radically-minded Baltic politicians have resorted to similar actions before as a cheap and effective way of winning over voters during election campaigns. But the situation with the Bauskas monument is particularly appalling, Director of the Latvian Centre of Legal Assistance for Compatriots Mikhail Ioffe told the Voice of Russia: “In Latvia, everything is upside down. People who committed international crimes are being commemorated and honoured. This is blasphemy and vandalism – there are no other words for that. And it’s also a political action backed by the authorities, most of them being descendants of those who fought on Nazi Germany’s side.”
 
This is not the first monument to Waffen-SS legionaries in Latvia. They have been erected before, but at military cemeteries where only relatives come. Installing such a memorial in the centre of a town, many of whose residents were killed by fascists, actually means perpetuating Nazi criminals, says the head of the Historical Memory Foundation Alexander Dyukov. “It’s the first such monument in Europe that honours people who committed concrete crimes – not abstract members of Waffen-SS, but concrete members of concrete police battalions involved in concrete punitive operations in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Those were not “defenders” of Latvia, but mercenaries and castigators who helped translate the Nazi genocide policy into life.”

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Latvia's fanfare for the common currency

Anyone who wants to take a trip down memory lane and listen to the sort of giddy pro-euro rhetoric last heard in the run-up to the launch of the single currency should book a trip to Riga – preferably before the end of the year, to be on the safe side. While the euro may be unloved by many of the people using it at the moment, euro-enthusiasm remains undimmed in the Baltic states - in official circles, at least. The opening session of a Nato conference held in Riga on September 14-15 was a virtual fanfare for the euro, with leaders from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all predicting a great future for the coinage, Greece notwithstanding. "We don't really have a euro crisis... what we have is a debt crisis and an economic crisis in certain European countries," said Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis in what appeared suspiciously like an attempt at a soundbite.

The exchange rate of the euro as a currency has remained relatively stable throughout the crisis period, Dombrovskis pointed out, claiming that the main problem of Europe was that it was not compulsory to follow Eurozone rules. The euro, he said, is currently "at a turning point" with things set to improve after a "bumpy six months" while the Greek crisis is handled. His grand plan is to meet all the Maastricht criteria governing euro adoption by the end of this year in order to qualify for swapping the lat for the euro in January 2014. If he succeeds, it would put the cherry on top of the cake for Latvia's dramatic turnaround from economic basket case in 2008 – when it was forced into a €7.5bn euro bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and EU – to the pin-up of proponents of front-loaded austerity programmes instead of gentler alternatives such as fiscal stimulus or quantitative easing. Certainly, any failure on Latvia's part to meet all the Maastricht criteria won't be for want of trying – in July a percentage point was even lopped off Latvian VAT, which fell from 22% to 21% as the Finance Ministry tries every trick in the book to satisfy the criteria with room to spare.

But even if Latvia meets all the criteria so routinely flouted by most existing members of the Eurozone, there is still no guarantee it will be accepted into the club, as the European Commission and European Central Bank must both give their assent. The fact that neighbouring Estonia was admitted to the zone in 2011 under similar circumstances would make any refusal highly controversial, but an argument that Latvia's see-saw economy needs to prove its sustainability for a bit longer could easily be forthcoming from either if, as seems likely, the euro crisis will still be dragging on at year's end. Yet the possibility of being kept in the Eurozone waiting room is not one that Dombrovskis is even willing to consider. At a special briefing on the second day of the Nato conference, bne asked which countries had already said they would definitely back Latvia's candidacy and how he would react to a "non" from Brussels. The first part of the question was neatly ignored, while the second gained an admission that there is no plan B. "There should be no artificial obstacles. After all, it's the Commission itself which signed the memorandums of understanding during Latvia's bailout programme which forces euro adoption on January 1, 2014, so in a sense the Commission has already signed up to this," Dombrovskis replied.

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Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew by 13 santims or by 3.3% in Q2

Data of the Central Statistical Bureau show that, compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, hourly labour costs in Latvia in the 2nd quarter of 2012 grew by 13 santims or by 3.3%. Seasonally adjusted data1) show a growth of 4.1%, whereas calendar day adjustment indicates a rise of 4.7%. In comparison with the 2nd quarter of 2011, labour costs in the 2nd quarter of 2012 increased more rapidly than the number of hours worked – by 7.7% (hours by 4.3%).

Most notable growth of the hourly labour costs during a year was recorded in transportation and storage – of 9.4%, in public administration and defence; compulsory social security – of 6.7%, in accommodation and food service activities – of 6.1%, and in other service activities – of 5.0%.In all mentioned sectors rise was mainly due to the increase of regular wages and salaries. In transportation and storage as well as other service activities also non-regular wages and salaries rose, whereas in public administration and defence – voluntary social insurance contributions and allowances.
 
Reduction of hourly labour costs was observed in water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities – of 4.0%, in mining and quarrying – of 3.8%, in professional, scientific and technical activities – of 3.1%, and slight decrease was recorded also in education – of 0.2%.Drop in the mentioned sectors was due to the faster rise of hours worked, moreover in water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities the amount of allowances paid by the employer reduced.



      
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yea2012-09-21 00:24:57
We have not town named Bausk IMHO :))


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