Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Winter in Baltics

When I departed for Otepää then there was no snow in Latvia. It was snowing throughout Southern Estonia and after arrival back to Riga also Salaspils was covered with snow. It is cold and nice - finally winter!

The last month of lecturing started this Monday and I am already looking forward to the end of February. Simply too much of lecturing does not leave me time for anything else. The lack of sun also has certain impact and I start feeling the same as during my years in Geneva - I have a feeling that constantly greyish sky is pressing me to the ground. There will be sauna on the weekend and perhaps that will make any good:)

Former Estonian ambassador of Berlin, Ms Riina Kionka, who happened to be also oponent of my BA thesis in Tartu, was chosen by Mr Javier Solana as his secretary responsible for human rights. There is very little transparency in the way how the EU civil service works, and there was no open competition for this job. But that is the way the intergovernmental EU works and even there were reforms proposed, we can blame French and Dutch for failing to do that:)

Latvian transport supremo is in the news even in winterly Latvia. being minister Mr Slesers replaced the whole management of the Riga International Airport. Nobody denies transport supremo credits for attracting low-fare airlines to Riga. However, to announce that personally he is responsible for the increase of passanger turnover is a bit megalomaniac.

First, there was the head of the RIX airport Mr Pomers and other civil servants and ministers before him who made it possible to have trasnport supremo springboard policy possible. Second, simply to presume that Riga would become the centre for transcontinental aviation industry because it has favourable geographical position makes me think that Mr Slesers listens to the advisers who have gone through the Russian school of geopolitics. Third, even though there are direct links established with the major European capitals does not mean that people from Asia and America would be as interested to visit Latvian opera, Riga Art Nouveau, untouched countryside or Riga bars, horrendously numerous strip bars and casinos (I dont even want to speak about the Christian ethics of Mr Slesers here:).

It is very tempting to have path dependency thinking a' la Riga is popular among European tourists now, and, then Americans and Asians would also start flocking in. Never say never some critic might say. Nevertheless, how come transport supremo is going to justify these heavy investments to the taxpayers (have not see ANY costs benefits analysis yet)? If Mr Slesers reiterates that he does not want to rise taxes (he prophessed this in tonight' s Latvian TV evening news) it means that money would come from the EU cohesion funds! In addition to that, I cannot imagine that with the rising petrol prices Asian and American tourists would start flying into Riga for the weekends. So, shopping spree of the present Latvian governing coalition continues and one day taxpayers would start paying for that, how??

Friday, January 26, 2007


Last week was rather hectic and I did not have a time to finish the last entry. I shall come back to the topic of democratic transition and the US support of democratization another time. However, this time I just want to update on where I am, and what do I do.

First, I was flying Rynair to Tampere this Tuesday and using VR services to make it to the PhD seminar in Helsinki. There was a lot of snow in Tampere and stayed with Indrek & Minna and sauna oli ihanaa! Stayed at Mikko&Hanna in Helsinki, and thank You for the hospitality again! In addition saw Saemus and little Denis again, thus one day there will be party in Cork indeed:)

Flew back to Riga yesterday and had to report on latest developments in Latvia to the Estonian radio Plc. Students have been busy bringing delayed essays (in the last moment obviously!) and planning of the next year teaching modules already takes place. Hectic, hectic, hectic.

Today's Diena reports that Latvian transport supremo is planning to have his First (FP) and Latvian Way party amalgamation congress this weekend. Is it any news? Not really, if not to notice that he has broken the ice and announced that FP also suports amendmends of Latvian electoral law, thus allowing also non-citizens to vote in municipal elections.

It is a reasonable proposal if not a bit populistic. Such proposal was impossible in the early 1990's, however now Mr Slesers reckons that the time is ripe. Ok, but Mr Slesers and other members of Latvian political elite, remember, that you can use the positive example of Estonian electoral law rationally - Estonian electoral law stipulates, that non-citizen population who resides in Estonia for certain number of years can participate in municipal elections, but elected into municipal councils can be only Estonian citizens. It means that non-citizens cannot be elected!

A good debate could ensue from all this, although with over-heated economy and rumours of FP joining forces with the Reconciliation Party might bring government crisis into Latvia. Shall see upcoming days, because first things first, and Russian-Latvian border agreement must be pushed through parliamentary debates.

Good, and I am leaving for Otepae toninght to see the cross-country World Cup races. Shall come back on Sunday to have the last seminar with the MA students here in Riga. In the meantime - go Eesti!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Yesterday night came to Tallinn and crossed the Gulf of Finland this morning to arrive to Helsinki. The sea was stormy but managed grading MA student papers and also read one book for the European Political Culture course. Sitting now at Mikko & Hanna place and dinner is going to be served in minutes, thus shall be short this time.

There was a lecture `Promoting Democracy of the Post-Soviet space should we, can we?´ by Stanford scholar Dr. Michael McFaul in Finnish Institute of International Affairs, and rather heated debate followed the presentation. Just to arouse your interest, the latest data from the Centre of Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law show that among the US public 55% Republicans and 13% (!) Democrats support democracy promotion outside the United States!

After that there was a PhD seminar in Unioninkatu 37 followed by wine and cheese party. Due to time constraints I shall not elaborate more on these issues now but get to the dinner table. Shall be be more elaborative upon arrival back to Riga.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Presidential pronouncements and domestic party political rebalancing

There is less than two months left until Estonian parliamentary elections. Lithuanian Prime Minister Kirkilas leads a rather stable minority government and Lithuanian parliamentary elections are expected in a little bit more than a year.

Vaira Vike Freiberga spends her last five moths in the office and presidential elections in the Latvian parliament will take place in May. Knowing that her time in the office is running out Latvian president has been more than vocal about several domestic issues. It should be noted here, that Latvian president main focus during her two terms in the office was foreign policy. It obviously did not leave her much say in the Latvian domestic policy due to the fact that she does not really have a power base in Latvia. Her pronouncements about graft or post - Soviet legacy were traditionally diplomatic. However since January 2007 her pronouncement are unusually harsh.

When Prime Minister Kalvitis bureau prepared amendmends in the Law of security organizations she expressed her dismay about the speed of passing thus controversial law without consulting either her or legislative branch of the government (Article 81. of Latvian constitution stipulates that government can pass the law if there is emergency situation in between parliamentary sessions). When Latvian parliament failed to elect ombudsman this Thursday Vaira Vike Freiberga called it as a irresponsible act because she had offered parliamentarians to propose her own candidate for the post of ombudsman.

While Latvian president made her pronouncements there were somehow sudden but still expected shake - ups of the traditional party political landscape. Rumours about possible merger of the First/Latvian Way (FLWP) with the Reconciliation party (RP) were heard already after the elections. There was a precedent of left wing party members joining First Party fraction in the parliament under te leadership of energetic Ainars Slesers already in the 8th Saeima, when 5 members of the Human rights Party (PCTVL) changed their affiliation and joined ranks of the FLWP.

Rumours of merging FLWP with the RP is of a different caliber alltogether. The first aspect that makes possible merger special is the fact that while FLWP has only 10 members it is RP who has 18 members in the 100 member Latvian Saeima. However, it is FLWP who is a member of the present governing coalition. If Mr Slesers wants to make a merger from a seemingly weaker position perhaps he has something in the sleave from the position of being in the government. Merging Reconciliation Center Party (Jaunais Centrs - 5) with FLWP (4) in the 60 member Riga City Council does not have any effect for the present situation, but that might be an ace in the municipal and European parliamentary elections in 2009. All in all, last two government crisis (2003 and 2004) in Latvia were directly or partially initiated by Ainars Slesers. Thus, when unusually rainy winter will be over, new EU 2007-2013 budget millions assigned and Latvia will be on the brink of housing bubble explosion perhaps FLWP shall start reap benefits of its still rumoured merger with RC.

So, shall it be a surprize and an obvious answer is no. Inflation can not be contained in the situation when the spiralling of prices is already built into the expectations of the people. Real estate boom can not sustain itself while about 150 000 Riga citizens will start paying free market rents for their apartments as of end of this month. Thus, newly formed FLWP and RC alliance can easily blame People' s Party (PP) being incompetent while managing both economy and coalition government and propose their own coalition (28 MP' s) with Farmers Union (ZZS -18) and PCTVL (6). In such occassion PP, New Era of Fatherland parties would be left into opposition with 48 MP's. This would be a bold move, and would finally assign Mr Slesers the post of Prime Minister and that is what he has craved for quite a long time. However, politics is a long term business, the 52 member coalition would be very thin and would taint Mr Slesers image among Latvian speaking electorate. Also there are no signs yet proving possibility of such a bold move in upcoming spring unless external shocks affect Latvian economy drastically.

There are two aspects that should be kept in mind here. First, how to buy off the PCTVL fringe party and second, how to accomodate Farmers Union while Aivars Lembers is still nominal patron of this political grouping? One may speculate that ZZS may feel indispensable in both occassions, because either in the present coalition or newly founded one, they shall be the central figure in political bargaining process. Or one may perhaps speculate that Mr Slesers knows that the criminal charges against Mr Lembers are so serious and thus they might expect ZZS in a rather weak bargaining position?

So, why is there late announcement about election alliance talks between ZZS and Social Democrats (LSDSP)? True, there is no representation of ZZS in the Riga City Council and 7 members of LSDSP would be a hand in the 2009 elections. Therefore, today's conclusion about the rebalancing of the party political landscape in Latvia is an example of consolidation of Latvian demos. ZZS and FLWP are looking already into 2009 where new identity of governing coalition party might be a good asset in the municipal and European parliament elections. But that might be also a liability especially in European parliament elections, because since 1979 European voters tend to punish those parties that are in the member states government.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Orange Latvia?

Today the governing People' s Party, Union of Farmers and Greens, The First and Fatherland parties coalition in Latvia failed to reach an agreement on the future ombudsman of Latvia. Whilst following in footsteps of Scandinavian cousins and Estonian brothers the political elite of Latvia had agreed on finally creating institution that would balance off heavy-handed behaviour of the Latvian state. Ombudsman traditionally is a neutral representative of civil society and he/she is made to protect citizens liberties against encrouchements of the state.

There were two candidates proposed. People' s party proposed its party member (!) and jurist with questionable credentials Ringolds Balodis, while Fatherland party designated Dr. Rasma Karklina for this post. It should be said that Ms. Šilde - Karklina is a professor at the University of Illinois and has lately become well known in Central Europe for her latest research on corruption - The system Made me do it Corruption in Post – Communist Societies, Armonk (NY): M.E. Sharpe, 2005. It is customary that Latvian politicians are still lacking public relations skills. However, nobody can repair the blunder of the prime minister Aigars Kalvitis when asked by reporter which candidate for ombudsman institution he supports, he candidly answered, "that he supports Mr. Ringolds Balodis, because he at least is acquinted with him" ...

Today in Latvian parliament (Saeima) both candidates had to go through two rows of election and finally in the third vote Mr Ringolds Balodis failed by 7 votes (44 ayes and 47 nays). Here one may obviously ask whether Peoples party was just testing the ground to know how solid the cioalition government is? Perhaps it is so, and the amendments in the Latvian Law of Security organizations passed with enormous speed (sent out to ministries and security organization on December 29 and passed already on January 8, but it is said that the legal framework for the law can be full prepared till October 2007!!!) in the parliamentary break only attest to that. What else can we expect now? The answer is that till the end of this month the Latvian - Russian border agreement will be discussed in the parliament and I hope that this issue wont become an issue for the popular referendum, because referendum is the victory for demagogues!

Finally, rather curiously in yesterday' s Latvian daily Diena there is obituary to Ms Solita Udrase. Ms Solita Udrase was highly respected psyhiatrist and her obituary is followed by words of condolences by many prominent persons including Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis and the bureau of the PM. God bless her soul and perhaps Mr Kalvitis was her client, but I am wondering why condolences should be signed by the staff of prime minister' s bureau?


p.s. For those not familiar with Latvian domestic politics, orange should not be connoted with the revolutionary colour of Ukraine, but with official colors of the major conservative People' s party instead.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Easy comes, easy goes

Baltische Zerrissenheit

In der November-Ausgabe des „vorwärts“ beschreibt Kai Doering seine ganz persönlichen Eindrücke über jungen Menschen in Lettland. Diese Eindrücke sollen hier nicht widerlegt werden. Aber als politische Menschen, die auch schon in Lettland gelebt haben und dort zur Zeit leben möchten wir wenige Punkte thematisieren, um Kai Doerings Impressionen in einen weiteren Kontext zu stellen. Dazu gehören das Hochschulsystem, die Migrationsbewegung in Richtung der britischen Inseln und die Lage der Zivilgesellschaft.
Das lettische Hochschulsystem zeichnet sich in erster Linie durch ein massives Missverhältnis von Quantität und Qualität aus. Während es in Lettland mit seinen 2,37 Millionen Einwohnern heute über 20 staatliche und 13 private Einrichtungen der höheren Bildung gibt, leiden die Einrichtungen unter einer bedeutenden Unterfinanzierung verbunden mit einem Mangel an qualifizierten Hochschullehrern.

Akademiker gehen in den Westen

Die Zahl an Hochschülern pro 1000 Einwohner in Lettland ist unter den höchsten in Europa. Dagegen ist die Zahl der Promotionsstudenten pro 1000 Arbeitnehmern mit 0,6 nur halb so hoch wie z.B. im Nachbarland Estland mit seinen 1,37 Mio. Einwohnern. Ganz zu Schweigen vom Durchschnitt in der EU (8,5) oder sogar 11 in den Vereinigten Staaten und Japan. Die meisten jungen Forscher verlassen die lettische Hochschullandschaft in Richtung Westeuropa oder den USA. Nicht nur aufgrund der extrem niedrigen Gehälter, sondern auch wegen des dem Sowjetregime geschuldeten Generationenkonflikts. Zwei völlig unterschiedliche Wissenschaftskulturen stehen sich gegenüber.Das gegenwärtige jährliche Wirtschaftswachstum von 12 % des BIP geht vor allem vom Dienstleistungssektor aus und kaum von der Produktion. Ohne Nachwuchswissenschaftler und ohne Innovationen wird dieses Wachstum enden und die jungen lettische Menschen werden mit der Tatsache konfrontiert, dass ihre Bildung sie in einem gemeinsamen europäischen Raum nur für gering qualifizierte Arbeitsplätze befähigt.

Junge sehen wenig Perspektiven

Die Migrationsbewegung der letzten Jahre ist eine weitere Entwicklung, die zeigt, was Zukunft für Jugendliche in Lettland bedeutet. Seit dem EU Beitritt Lettlands haben schätzungsweise 72 000 Arbeitskräfte das Land verlassen. In erster Linie in Richtung Irland und Großbritannien. Neue, noch billigere Arbeitskräfte strömen von jenseits der EU-Grenze, in erster Linie aus Weißrussland und der Ukraine nach. Die Absicht, Lettland zu verlassen, haben vor allem junge Menschen zwischen 15 und 35 Jahren, die in der Regel über Englischkenntnisse verfügen. Sie verdingen sich als Saisonarbeiter oder versuchen, für ihren erlernten Beruf eine adäquate Entlohnung zu finden. Manch junge Mutter lässt als Alleinerziehende ihre Kinder bei Verwandten und schickt fleißig kleine Summen nach Hause, an denen dann auch der Finanzminister seine Freude hat.Nackte Zahlen machen deutlich, welche materielle Realität hinter der starken Auswanderungsbewegung steht: Das Durchschnittsnettoeinkommen betrug 2005 217 Euro, wobei die Lebenshaltungskosten in keinem neuen EU-Land seit dem Beitritt stärker gestiegen sind. So kostet z. B. eine Zwei-Zimmer-Wohnung in Riga abhängig von der Lage 144-287 Euro und mehr an Kaltmiete.

Schwache Zivilgesellschaft

Allein der Wille reicht daher oft nicht aus, um sich durch ein Studium einen guten Start ins Arbeitsleben zu verschaffen. In Kai Doerings Artikel wird suggeriert, dass lettische Jugendliche ihr Leben in die Hand nehmen ohne über widrige Bedingungen zu jammern. Es gibt kaum Möglichkeiten sich gegen zu geringe Löhne und andere Widrigkeiten zu wehren. Die Gewerkschaften sind schwach, zivilgesellschaftliche Bewegungen stecken in den Kinderschuhen und ihre positive Entwicklung ist nicht sichergestellt. Das „Jammern“, das Formulieren von Missständen kann auch positiv gesehen werden. Nur wenn Defizite artikuliert werden können sie in die politische Agenda aufgenommen und bekämpft werden. Kai Doering bedauert die aktuelle Shell Jugendstudie, da sie eine sinkende positive Einstellung gegenüber der Zukunft bei deutschen Jugendlichen feststellt. Angst vor Arbeitslosigkeit, Angst vor der wirtschaftlich schlechten Lage und vor Armut sind die größten Sorgen. Das sind reale Ängste, die auf den tatsächlichen Lebens- und Arbeitsbedingungen in Deutschland fußen. Die Gefahr ist ja gerade, dass diese Ängste nicht ernst genommen werden und keine aktive Arbeitsmarkt- und Armutspolitik folgt.

Motivation reicht allein nicht aus

Auf einem anderen Blatt steht die Motivation, das Wollen leistungsbereiter Jugendlicher, die Kai Doering in erster Linie sieht. Genau wie die u.a. von Springer und Bertelsmann getragene Kampagne „Du bist Deutschland“ erklärt Kai Doering bestehende Problem implizit mit der mangelnden Motivation der Menschen in Deutschland. Polemisch formuliert: Jeder einzelne ist selbst Schuld, wenn es in seinem Leben nicht klappt. Eine solche Perspektive blendet die Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten von Politik völlig aus. Eben deshalb ist diese Kampagne im Kern falsch.Die Frage nach der Zukunft junger Menschen ist immer auch die Frage nach zukunftsfähiger Politik und nach politischem Engagement der Jugend selbst. In Deutschland richten wir den Blick also auf die politische Kultur der Sozialdemokratie. Wir sind an einen starken jungsozialistischen Verband als Nachwuchsorganisation und als „Talentschuppen“ der Mutterpartei gewöhnt. In Lettland versteht die politische Kultur unter Partei eine überschaubare Ansammlung von irgendwie gearteten Sympathisanten hinter einem sehr reichen Unternehmer. Als Parteivorsitzender weiß er im Zweifelfall nicht einmal, ob seine Partei eine Jugendorganisation hat. Jedenfalls ist sie nicht wichtig.

Gesellschaft droht zu zerfallen

Das gilt nicht zuletzt für den sozialdemokratischen Bereich. Aktuelle personelle Veränderungen bei den beiden sozialdemokratischen Parteien und der kleinen Jugendorganisation lassen allerdings gerade jetzt die Möglichkeit zu, die Vernetzung mit den estnischen und litauischen Jusos zu fördern. Über diesen Umweg kann auch der am Boden liegenden sozialen und demokratischen Jugend in Lettland politische Lebenshilfe vermittelt werden. Daran arbeitet derzeit die Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Lettland. Noch mehr Sorge bereitet allerdings die Tatsache, dass Zivilgesellschaft kaum existiert und im Denkschema der post-sowjetischen Funktionäre auch nicht entwickelt werden muss. Vor allem deshalb hat die lettische Jugend nur ganz wenig Sprachrohre – etwa bei den Frauenorganisationen, mit denen sie im eigenen Land für die notwendigen Veränderungen streiten könnte, aber viel zu wenig tut. Lettland zerfällt eindeutig in die kleinere Gruppe der Gewinner der neoliberalen Verhältnisse und den großen Teil der Marginalen. Die Jugend ist ebenfalls in der Gefahr gespalten zu werden – in die Konsumisten, die die teuren Altstadt-Cafés aussitzen und die Verkäuferinnen und Frisörinnen, die alle paar Monate den Job wechseln, weil der Besitzer sich weigert, den Lohn auszuzahlen – vor allem den steuerfreien illegalen Teil im Briefumschlag. Aber ohne diesen lässt sich im Winter oft nicht einmal die Heizung bezahlen.Es gilt – in Deutschland und Lettland – die Zukunft zu gestalten. Angesichts struktureller Probleme führt der Weg nur über eine mit mehr sozialem und demokratischem Enthusiasmus betriebene Politik.

Dr. Elmar Römpczyk FES-Riga

Beate Schmid Studentin an der Universität Hamburg

Veiko Spolitis Dozent an der Stradins Universität Riga

Monday, January 8, 2007

Latvian - Russian border treaty to be signed?

Läti on valmis Venemaaga kiirelt piirilepingut sõlmima
09. jaanuar 2007

Autor: Veiko Spolitis

Liikvele on läinud kuuldused, et Läti-Vene piirileping võidakse sõlmida aasta esimesel poolel, kusjuures Läti on loobumas ühepoolsest deklaratsioonist.
Läti infoagentuur LETA teatas juba 2. jaanuaril, et pärast peaminister Aigars Kalvitise naasmist puhkuselt võidakse Läti-Vene piirilepingu projekt suunata aruteluks parlamendi erakorralisele istungile. Seejärel võiksid valitsusparteidesse kuuluvad rahvaesindajad paluda valitsusel lepingule alla kirjutada, et see siis lõpuks parlamenti ratifitseerimisele saata.
Ametlikult aga ei kinnita sellist infot praegu ei peaministri, välisministri ega presidendi esindajad.
Välisministri pressisekretär on küll teatanud, et arutelu piirilepingu üle on kavandatud jaanuari lõppu. Läti Moskva-saadik Andris Teikmanis väitis, et leping parandaks riikidevahelisi suhteid ja selle võiks tema sõnul sõlmida tänavuse aasta esimesel poolel. Teikmanise kolleeg, Venemaa Riia-saadik Viktor Kalužni, on juba varem teatanud, et piirileping võidakse ilma täiendava deklaratsioonita sõlmida juba 2007. aasta veebruaris.
Aluseks EL-i liitumisleping
2005. aastal valminud piirileping pingestas kahe riigi suhteid pärast seda, kui Läti välisminister lisas just enne lepingu allkirjastamist sellele Läti-poolse deklaratsiooni, viidates Läti riigi õiguslikule järjepidevusele, mis tuleneb 1920. aasta põhiseadusest ning sätestab, et ka praegune Venemaa Põtalovo (Abrene) piirkond on Lätimaa lahutamatu osa. See deklaratsioon mõjus külma dušina president Vaira Vike-Freibergale, kes oli välismaal selgitustööd teinud ja rõhutanud, et Lätil ei ole territoriaalseid nõudmisi ühegi riigi suhtes.
Nüüd soovib Läti valitsus võtta õigusjärgluse aluseks Läti ja Euroopa Liidu liitumislepingu, milles on EL-i tulevaseks idapiiriks nimetatud Läti-Vene praegust kontrolljoont. Seega, juhul kui praegust EL-i idapiiri peaks mingil põhjusel muudetama, peaks sellega nõustuma ka ühenduse ülejäänud liikmesriigid. Samas jäetakse neile parlamendiliikmetele, kes on Põtalovo Venemaale “loovutamise” vastu, võimalus kaevata leping konstitutsioonikohtusse.
Piirilepingu teema tõi erimeelsused välja juba eelmisel aastal valimiskampaania ajal. Praegu valitsusse kuuluv partei Isamaa on selgelt välja öelnud, et ei poolda Põtalovost loobumist. Valitsusliidu juhterakonnad Rahvapartei ja Esimene Partei on aga toetanud Läti-Vene suhete normaliseerimist. Esimene Partei lubas valimiskampaania ajal alustada Riia-Moskva kiirtee ehitamist ja praeguseks on kuluaarides kuulda ka partei ühinemisläbirääkimistest opositsioonis oleva vene valijaskonda esindava Kooskõla Keskusega.
Uus Aeg, suurim opositsioonipartei parlamendis, peab aga vajalikuks piirilepingu üle tõsiste debattide pidamist.
Veiko Spolitis on politoloog ja Riia Stradinsi ülikooli õppejõud.
Kellel on Lätis lepingust kasu?
•• Kuna Läti-Vene piirilepingu ümber on üsnagi palju segadust, on päevakorda kerkinud küsimus, kellele on lepingu kiire sõlmimine kasulik.
•• Läti huvidest lähtudes tuleks esiteks mainida soovi lahendada küllalt kiiresti Läti riikluse üks põhiküsimusi, mida piirilepingu sõlmimine Venemaaga kindlasti on.
•• Teiseks soovib viimase 15 aasta jooksul üsna muutumatuna püsinud poliitiline eliit säilitada status quo’d ning rahva seas usaldamatust pälvinud valitsus, parlament ja erakonnad tahavad piirilepinguga oma mundrit puhastada. Rahulolu nende kolme institutsiooniga on Lätis madalam kui EL-is keskmiselt.
•• Kolmandaks ei saa välistada nii president Vaira Vike-Freiberga soovi haarata endale ametiaja lõpuks piirilepingu loorberid kui ka Venemaaga mahukamat kaubavahetust ihkavate huvigruppide mõju Läti parlamendi liikmetele.
•• Lõppude lõpuks on aga Venemaa see, kellele piirilepingu sõlmimine Eesti ja Lätiga on üheks eeltingimuseks viisavabaduse saavutamiseks Euroopa Liiduga.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Welcome new Europe!

At 11pm yesterday when there was midnight in Moscow the whole of Russian part of Salaspils were celebrating 2007. Then obviously there were a lot of fireworks on midnight. My brother in law rather omenously said that he wished to see also fireworks exploding at 1am when New Year was celebrated from Warszaw to Madrid. Yes, there were sporadic leftowers of fireworks, but overall public mentality Salaspils show that we are still living in two seperate communities.

In the meantime the EU is richer by 30 mlj. souls - therefore WELCOME Romania and Bulgaria!
At least we are the biggest internal consumer market in the industral world today, and perhaps the EU shall also impose its soft policy internationally one day?

Exerting ones will upon others internationally wont be easy and for having the fame of soft power one must achieve the status of some legitimacy of hard power as well. It means that we still have some way to go the United States of Europe! One may wish that Gerrman presidency 2007 might bring some changes, aye, but not structural and we still have to wait till the French presidential elections. In the meantime there is a lot to internally, and perhaps Germany would be able to push for revised version of the Constitution pour l' Europe? Anyway, constitution shall bring tangible changes in longer term, but there is alot to do also internally in the 12 new member countries.

CONGRATULATIONS Slovenija as a member of the Euroland! It should be actually the PRIME task of governments of Eesti, Latvija and Lietuva now - to join Eurozone as soon as possible!!! Slovenia should be as a positive example and I believe that Estonian shall follow quickly. It will be interesting to see Lithuanian election outcome next year, and it has paramount importance for Latvian public of how professionally & quickly Latvian legal system will be able to determine who exactly are guilty of graft in the row of corruption cases.

In the meantime there is the burden on internal reforms also for the newcomers Bulgaria and Romania. For the civil society it wont be easy especially during first couple of years when prices will be soaring and living standard wont be able to catch up as fast as you wish. Your political elite has been scolded for ineffective fight against graft and corruption. Until you were candidate country your leaders were forced to eradicate the loopholes of the judicial system that foster corruption by the unique pressure of europeanization. Now, you are members of the club and you must be the ones who excert that pressure. If your civil societies wont do it, you will be mired by miraculous macroeconomic stability, growing alianation of ever emigarting population and fatter cats sitting in offices in Sofia and Bucuresti. Good luck fellow Europeans in your personal and collective struggles for plainer playfield!