Task of the science is to serve
people.

– Tolstoy –

Science is the captain, and
practice the soldiers.

– Leonardo da Vinci –

Frontiers of science are like the
horizon: the more we approach
it, the more it moves away.

– Boiste –

The fantasy is more important
than knowing.

– Albert Einstein –

Science – it means organized
knowledge.

– Spencer –

Freedom for the science the
same as the air for a living soul.

– Poincaré –

Research area of all sciences is
endless.

– Pascal –

System of science must be
looked at as the system of
nature: all in it is endless and
necessary.

– Cuvier –

Scientific plan without working
hypothesis is a skeleton without
living body.

– Hirschfeld-

The main research subject of
mankind is the human.

– Goethe –

All is important in science.

– Heine –

Books must be results of
sciences, but sciences not results
of books.

– Bacon –

Scientist is not the one, who
gives the right answers, but the
one, who asks the right
questions.

– Claude Lévi-Strauss –

The more we will seek for the
truth outside us, the more we
will move away of it. The more
we will be able to understand
who we are, the more the truth
will assert us in ourselves.

– Antonio Meneghetti –

Before being dictated the nature
needs to be obeyed.

– Bacon –

A true scientist is not one who
has more acquired, but one who
has more understood.

– Leibniz –

Science – to know how the
being acts. To know the action
of the being.

– Antonio Meneghetti –

Science is benefactor of
mankind.

– Berthelot –

Sākums » Briefings » Page 4

Latvia external relations briefing: Latvia’s foreign policy priorities in April 2020 aimed at overcoming the COVID-19 crisis

The Foreign Ministers of the Baltic and Nordic countries emphasize the importance of regional co-operation in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis

In April 2020 minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia took part in video conference with other foreign ministers of Baltic and Nordic countries (N8)[1] to discuss Covid-19 limiting precaution activities and discussed regional cooperation opportunities to exit the ongoing crisis. During March 2020 and April 2020 Latvia has been actively working with Nordic and Baltic countries’ representatives to ensure the repatriation flights to Latvia. All foreign ministers of N8 have assessed the co-operation of the existing consular services of NB8 countries in organizing repatriation trips, as well as in providing transit opportunities for citizens to the country of residence.  However, it was noted that there is a need of more integrated and coherent solutions to ensure for the countries of the region to gradually emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. To ensure the emerge from the ongoing crisis it is important to regularly exchange with up to date information regarding on the reduction of restrictive measures so that the exit from the national and regional countries’ crisis would take place gradually and in a coordinated manner. The current priority for Latvia and N8 countries is to solve the questions regarding economic cooperation for the reduction of Covid-19 crisis. Meaning maintaining open borders for the movement of goods and services, as well as cooperating in the procurement of common medical goods. Recently the Baltic Foreign Ministers have discussed the option to re-open the Baltic boarders and it is foreseen that in the upcoming weeks the Baltic borders could be opened.

The Cabinet of Ministers approves Latvia’s solidarity contribution to the budget of the UN Office for Covid-19

On April 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the order “On Contribution to the Budget of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organization Global Humanitarian Aid Plan for Combating Covid-19” developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Funds for the contribution will be provided from this year’s budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[2]

According to the order, EUR 100,000 is to be paid for the operation of the United Nations and the World Health Organization’s Global Humanitarian Plan to combat Covid-19. With this input, Latvia shows solidarity with other countries affected by Covid-19, especially those whose capacity to respond to this crisis is limited. Latvia has responded to the United Nations Secretary-General’s call to invest in resolving the global consequences of the Covid-19 crisis and at the same time demonstrates Latvia’s solidarity in joint European Union action to contain the humanitarian crisis. By acting in solidarity and investing in reducing the spread of Covid-19, the far-reaching risk of the pandemic’s impact on Latvia will be reduced.

In response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus worldwide, in March this year the United Nations, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, called on all countries around the world to show solidarity in supporting the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in poor countries and territories affected by various humanitarian crises. The plan specifically provides support to vulnerable groups in addressing health and non-health needs.

Under the leadership of Latvia, the UN agrees on a common approach to financing for development in the Covid-19 crisis

On 27 April 2020, the United Nations Intergovernmental Conclusions and Recommendations on Financing Development were adopted unanimously in New York. The discussion was led by the United Nations representative of Latvia in New York. Latvia is elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council for the period from 2020 to 2022. Under the leadership of Latvian representative, the first online discussion in the history of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations was held since with the outbreak of pandemic transportation services are limited.  The outcome of the discussion provided first universal agreement of United Nations member states for joint action to fund Covid-19’s immediate consequences, as well as a long-term recovery.[3]

During the discussion, United Nations member states underlined their commitment to jointly fight the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences, to restore sustainable economic growth, to promote sustainable and inclusive recovery, and to strengthen resilience to similar crises in the future. Additionally, the importance of multilateral cooperation and concerted global action in tackling the crisis was confirmed by the representatives of member countries, emphasizing the role of the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization. In the conclusions the commitment to the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Program on Development Financing was underlined. United Nations member states recognize the many challenges facing the least developed and vulnerable countries in this crisis, including countries with poorly developed health systems and limited fiscal space. Under the leadership of the representatives of Latvia United Nation member countries came to joint agreement to continue to support the poorest countries of the world and to continue to implement United Nation sustainable development goals.

Minister for Foreign Affairs expresses his support for closer European Union cooperation withthe Eastern Partnership countries

On 22 April 2020, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics participated in the informal videoconference of the Council on Foreign Affairs of the European Union on European Union cooperation with Ukraine and the European Union Eastern Partnership countries. The meeting discussed issues related to European Union support for the Eastern Partnership countries to prevent the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic and preparations for the forthcoming Eastern Partnership summit, as well as the progress of reforms in Ukraine and the state of play regarding the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.[4]

Additionally, minister of Foreign Affairs expressed the support of Latvia the European Union’s solidarity with the Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, to fight against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as well as its consequences. The minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia noted that the European Union must continue to provide strong support to Georgia, particularly as regards the continued “bordering” process of Russian-backed separatists in the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as work on cooperation with Moldova and balanced access to relations with Belarus.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia confirmed Latvia’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Minister positively evaluated Ukraine’s progress in the reform process by adopting the Law on the Privatization of Agricultural Land for the Supreme Court and supporting the draft Law on amendments to improve the mechanisms for regulating banking activities at first reading. The Minister of Latvia stressed that Ukraine must continue the ongoing reform process, particularly in areas such as strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption. The Minister emphasized that the implementation of the Minsk Agreement is essential for the resolution of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and that the European Union’s sanctions policy must be maintained until Russia puts an end to violations of international law and implements the Minsk Agreement. The Foreign Minister also informed his European Union colleagues that Latvia would provide bilateral support to the European Union Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries in resolving urgent issues related to the Covid-19 crisis. Work will also continue previously planned cooperation projects for the Eastern Partnership countries in priority areas.

Conclusion

During April 2020 most of the foreign policy events and activities have been made in context of the outbreak of Coronavirus. In April 2020 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia together with the Foreign Ministers of other Baltic and Nordic countries discussed the need to cooperate on a regional scale to combat the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. During March 2020 and April 2020 Latvia has been actively working with Nordic and Baltic countries’ representatives to ensure the repatriation flights to Latvia. To ensure the safety of Nordic and Baltic countries’ citizens the Foreign Ministers of the countries have assessed co-operation to provide repatriation flights or other transit opportunities. In all, the overall priority for Nordic and Baltic countries is the regional cooperation and the reduction activities of Covid-19 crisis. To overcome the ongoing pandemic crisis the Cabinet of Ministers approved the solidarity of Latvia by contributing to the budget of the United Nations Office for Covid-19 by that expressing unity with other countries who have been deeply affected socially and economically and whose capacity and resources  to combat the crisis are limited. Additional development in April 2020 regarding foreign policy was that under the leadership of Latvia, the United Nations came to a common approach to finance the prevention activities of Covid-19. Under the guidance and leadership of the representatives of Latvia the member countries of United Nations came to an agreement for additional support to the poorest countries. During April 2020 Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his support to ensure closer European Union cooperation with the Eastern Partnership Countries. Additionally, from the behalf of Latvia the solidarity with the Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, to fight against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as well as its consequences was expressed.

[1] N8 consists of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

[2] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/aktualitates/zinas/65885-ministru-kabinets-apstiprina-latvijas-solidaritates-iemaksu-ano-humanas-palidzibas-koordinacijas-biroja-un-pasaules-veselibas-organizacijas-globala-humanas-palidzibas-plana-cinai-ar-covid-19-budzeta

[3] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/aktualitates/zinas/65936-latvijas-vadiba-ano-vienojas-par-kopigu-pieeju-attistibas-finansesanai-covid-19-krize

[4] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/aktualitates/zinas/65915-arlietu-ministrs-pauz-atbalstu-ciesakai-es-sadarbibai-ar-austrumu-partneribas-valstim

*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute

Latvia political briefing: Political solutions to mitigate the effects of COVID-19

The amortization of social and economic consequences 

For more than half a month the citizens of Latvia have been living under the emergency situation. Undoubtedly the economic impact on the daily lives of the Latvian citizens has been massive as the unemployment levels have been increasing. [1] However, the precaution activities taken has proved them to be successful as the number of active cases of Coronavirus have been decreasing.[2]  Although the limitations are relatively small in comparison to other European countries, Latvia has been able to sustain one of the lowest death rates per 100 000 citizens in the European countries.[3]  Despite the success in health system and the provided support tools Latvia is in front of upcoming political challenges and is already facing restructuring process to improve the welfare of Latvian citizens during these challenging times. 

The borrowing limit for local governments is increased by 150 million euros to mitigate the effects of COVID-19

One of the key priorities for Latvia during the Covid-19 crisis is to improve the unemployment level. The data from State Employment Agency shows that the share of unemployment is increasing, which is mainly explainable due to the Covid-19 crisis. [4] Because of that the Parliament of Latvia has been actively creating solutions to boost the economics of Latvia. This decision of increasing the municipal borrowing limit for 2020 by 150 million euros in order to be able to invest in high-readiness projects co-financed by European Union funds and other foreign financial assistance with economic significance, as well as investment projects submitted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. Proposals for redistribution of EU funding to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 have been supported      The opportunity approved by the European Commission to restructure and reorganize the European Union funding to fields which currently need the most support has a great influence since Latvia will be able to save the State budget funds. The redeployment proposal for European Union funding was designed to address three current needs. Primarily, strengthening the capacity of the health system by ensuring urgent investments in strengthening the capacity of infectious and psychiatric fields. Providing support to companies – in the provision of working capital of export-capable and productive companies, modernization of production and heating of the economy. As well as investments in mitigation of socio-economic consequences – employment measures. In total, it has been decided to redistribute 500 million euros of European Union funding. It has now been decided to allocate 100 million Euros to the Ministry of Transport for the discontinuation of railway projects for the strengthening of health services, 30 million euros for entrepreneurs, 35 million Euros for working capital and fixed assets instruments, 20 million Euros for employment support measures and workforce training and reorientation measures. In its turn, the financing of energy efficiency projects under the Ministry of Economics in the amount of approximately 7.5 million Euros should be directed to the projects of municipal energy efficiency measures to be implemented in 2020.

The Latvian Parliament approves additional measures to overcome the difficulties caused by Covid-19

To amortize the caused political and economic consequences by the outbreak of global pandemic during April 2020 the Parliament of Latvia enforced new amendments. Amendments to the law stipulate that expenses incurred in providing social assistance are recognized as operating expenses of the company and are not subject to corporate income tax. This will support companies that are actively involved in providing social support during an emergency, such as providing computers and other smart devices to schools, handing over disinfectants to medical facilities, and providing lunch and coffee to doctors. The amendments also stipulate that municipal capital companies, whose turnover has decreased by 50 percent due to the crisis caused by Covid-19, may receive a state budget loan to increase the company’s share capital in order to finance its maintenance costs. The amendments also provide for the establishment of an alternative investment fund, in which it is planned to invest not only public but also private funds, thus providing support to entrepreneurs, for example, by investing in the company’s capital. The fund will be managed by the development finance institution Altum.[5]

During April 2020, a big proportion of political discussion revolved around the State downtime support payments. During March 2020 in support of the local enterprises the government of Latvia supported the Law of Idle payment, which aims to support the enterprises and businesses which have been negatively affected by measures to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Entrepreneurs in all sectors that meet the set criteria can apply for state aid measures to mitigate the effects of the crisis – the distribution of downtime benefits and arrears of taxes in time or deferral for up to three years. In the beginning the companies whose income in March or April 2020 had decreased by at least 30% compared to the corresponding month of 2019 were able to apply for the downtime benefit and tax extension.

However, during April 2020 the enforced amendments received a lot of criticism from the public sector as around 40% of the Idle payment applicants received rejection and were not qualified to receive monthly Idle payment. [6] As more well-known Latvian enterprises received rejection it raised more public and political discussion regarding the Idle payments. The qualifications were written in a manner that made it really difficult to apply for the Idle payment support and therefore by data from State Revenue Agency it can be concluded that only around less than five percent of the Latvian workers were able to receive Idle payment support. Because of the public resonance and the flaws of the enforced amendments in April 2020 in approval by the Parliament of Latvia the criteria for granting the downtime allowance to employees of companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis have been improved and additionally the application deadline was extended. The amendments stipulate that in the future, when deciding on the granting of downtime benefit and / or “tax holidays”, the State Revenue Agency will consider the income of companies and their reduction due to the COVID-19 crisis from the moment of starting a real economic activity and not from the moment of registration. The amendments also stipulate that an employee of a company may receive a downtime allowance even if his or her employer or a member of the company’s board has been penalized for a violation related to tax, customs or employment relations in the previous year and at the time of assessment as previously it was one of the main reasons why workers were not able to receive Idle payment support.

The Parliament of Latvia conceptually supports amendments to the law on repayment of mortgage debts during the 2008 crisis

Before the economic crisis of 2008, there was a huge increase in lending rates in Latvia, but the sharp drop in income after that created very great difficulties in fulfilling the assumed obligations. These debts are now practically irrecoverable. The data at the disposal of the Bank of Latvia and the Financial Industry Association show that there are currently about 13 thousand debtors affected by the crisis in Latvia and the total amount of debt is estimated at up to 600 million euros. Because of that in April 2020, the Latvian Parliament conceptually supported the amendments to the Law on Credit Institutions and the amendments to the Law on Personal Income Tax, which provide for the possibility for credit institutions to unilaterally repay debts on mortgage loans taken before the 2008 economic crisis. With the changes in the personal income tax law, it is planned to determine the basic principles of repaying mortgage loans. It is envisaged that credit institutions will be able to unilaterally erase debts on loans taken by residents for the purchase of real estate by the end of 2008.[7] It is also envisaged that the settled liabilities to the debtor will not be treated as income and will not be subject to capital gains tax. At present, some credit institutions already implement various settlement programs by concluding a mandatory bilateral agreement in writing. The proposal for unilateral debt forgiveness is encouraged because the current practice is considered to be a significant impediment to full or partial repayment.

Conclusion

In order to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and to improve the regional unemployment levels the borrowing limit of funds for municipalities have been increased by 150 million euros, which will allow to invest in high-readiness projects. To strengthen the capacity of the most current significant fields like medicine and export-capable and profitable companies, modernization by the approval of the European Commission the available European Union funds will be reorganized. To amortize the caused social and economic consequences by the outbreak of global pandemic the Parliament of Latvia enforced new amendments, focusing on companies that are actively involved in providing social support during an emergency situation.  Additional focus has been put on municipal capital companies, which have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 crisis meaning increasing the company’s share capital in order to finance its maintenance costs. The public discussions were raised regarding the State Idle payments as the created support system showed to be ineffective in several ways.

[1] https://www.nva.gov.lv/docs/31_5ea6a81ed129f1.00708681.pdf

[2] https://spkc.gov.lv/lv/tavai-veselibai/aktualitate-par-jauno-koronavi

[3] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1111779/coronavirus-death-rate-europe-by-country/

[4] https://www.nva.gov.lv/index.php?cid=6

[5] https://www.saeima.lv/lv/aktualitates/saeimas-zinas/28894-saeima-apstiprina-papildu-pasakumus-covid-19-radito-sarezgijumu-parvaresanai

[6] https://lat.bb.lv/raksts/ekonomika/2020/04/17/dikstaves-pabalstus-vid-atsaka-gandriz-puse-gadijumu-kads-pamatojums

[7] https://www.saeima.lv/lv/aktualitates/saeimas-zinas/28917-saeima-konceptuali-atbalsta-likumu-grozijumus-par-2008-gada-krizes-laika-hipotekaro-paradsaistibu-dzesanu

*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute

Latvia social briefing: The impact of epidemiological restrictions on Latvian society: social challenges and people’s attitudes

As the overall cases of detected COVID-19 have been decreasing, Latvia is starting to reduce the restrictions regarding Coronavirus. Although during May 2020 the restrictions due to the Coronavirus were reduced such as allowing gatherings up to 25 people and taking down the restrictions due to indoor and outdoor sport activities, new challenges such as rise in domestic violence and inaccessibility to planned medical support are faced. 

9th May gathering shows communication and social challenges of the parliament of Latvia 

During May 2020, a lot of discussion revolved around the celebration of 9th May, when Victory Day over Nazi Germany was celebrated in the former Soviet Union. Today, May 9 has become a mobilizing date, in which some residents of Latvia, which are mostly Russians, demonstrate their sense of community and celebrate it together with broad amount of people. Despite by the enforced restrictions the data from the Municipal Police of Riga shows that during the 9thMay in the timespan of 15 hours around 20 000 people gathered to commemorate this Remembrance Day. [1] This had led to a lot incomprehension in general society regarding the existing epidemiological restrictions. Users of social network platforms, observing the events, accused the State Police of inaction regarding ensuring compliance with the restrictions on gathering in the location, where the event took place. As there were many questions and a great deal of public confusion, the Prime Minister of Latvia requested an explanation from the Minister of the Interior of Latvia that shows that the Minister of the Interior believes that what happened on May 9 this year confirms the successful work of the Ministry of the Interior and its subordinate institutions to ensure public safety and reduce epidemiological risks, while respecting people’s right to visit any park, monument or memorial individually. Law enforcement officers introduced several measures to prevent mass gatherings and violations. In total, the police drew up 46 administrative violation protocols and started 70 administrative proceedings.[2] However, the Prime Minister of Latvia pointed out that he is not completely satisfied with this situation and there is one shortcoming, namely that before May 9, the Minister of the Interior had to explain more clearly to the public the restrictions on gatherings set in the country and call for compliance with these regulations. Additionally, the Prime minister of Latvia stressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that not all people living in Latvia unanimously understand how tragic the Second World War was for Latvia. This shows that much remains to be done in the Latvian education system and integration process.

Covid-19 test groups are increased

Although the overall cumulative morbidity with Covid-19 is decreasing, to ensure the further decrement of active Covid-19 cases the Ministry of Health has expanded testing groups. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to reduce epidemiological safety risks, COVID-19 tests will also be performed on pre-school employers and international transport providers without symptoms. This decision was taken in order to minimize the risk of infection, given that pre-school staff work with children, while staff from international transport providers regularly travel abroad. Until now, if these people had symptoms of the disease, the family doctor could send them for COVID-19 tests. Now the employer will also be able to refer for tests if it is decided that they are necessary, even if the person has no symptoms. The employer, such as the head of the pre-school in question, will form a list of people and submit it to the Emergency Medical Service, which will then organize the tests. Additionally, the Ministry of Health is specifically encouraging people with chronic diseases to take the free COVID-19 test even in the absence of symptoms. Asymptomatic testing of chronic patients has been offered by the state since the second half of April, but people rarely use it. It is especially important for chronic patients to detect COVID-19 early, as it endangers their health and lives.

Domestic violence is on the rise

In recent weeks, more and more women are seeking help and reporting domestic violence. Municipal police brigades receive a particularly large number of calls regarding family conflicts. With the outbreak of Coronavirus, the number of received calls has almost doubled. The information from the Municipal Police institutions of Latvia shows that more frequent cases have been confirmed not only because family relationships worsen during the crisis, but also because neighbors spend more time at their homes and witness the domestic violence therefore informing the Municipal Police. Additionally, the victims of violence have also been more active in seeking help in recent months. The number of crisis phone calls has increased by 36%.[3] The increase of domestic violence has raised discussion on how to strengthen municipal social services.

The general attitude of society towards Covid-19 restriction

During May 2020, the Latvian Research Centre SKDS had made survey on the general opinion regarding current restrictions. Overall, it is seen that the general public perceive the limitation as cumbersome but necessary.[4] When asked how the respondent assesses the current restrictions, the vast majority – almost 70% – of the respondents have acknowledged them as appropriate. At the same time, one in ten has assessed the restrictions as too strict and 15% of respondents – on the contrary – believe that the restrictions should be larger. Although most of the society has found the restrictions to be adequate the respondents have noted that the restrictions have had effects to their daily lives. Most often respondents answered that the biggest challenge is definitely the narrowed range of health care services. Almost three quarters of those surveyed say that it has caused several problems. Many also cited a ban on meeting people from other households – 67%, and practically as often respondents said that they were hampered by the interruption of other face-to-face services and the repeated call to stay at home even if there were no signs of illness. Analyzing data and looking at what people find most intolerable, that is, what is most often said to have been the most challenging restriction, the common answer is the restricted access to health services, followed by distance learning – almost 14% of respondents indicated that it has been difficult for them. Additional data regarding the adaptation of the Coronavirus restrictions show that there have been no difficulties regarding adapting to the disinfection activities. Two-thirds of the respondents stressed that the closure of shopping centers on weekends has not caused particular difficulties as well. Only 3% have admitted that they have most often not followed the regulation on the restrictions of the crisis, 16% of the respondents noted that they do not follow all the restrictions. On the other hand, the absolute majority – 80% – have stated that they have most often acted within the set restrictions.

The provision of planned health care services is expanded

Less than two weeks after the declaration of the state of emergency, the Ministry of Health partially restricted health care services in both public and private medical institutions. Restrictions were in place to protect patients and physicians from possible infection with Covid-19, given the epidemiological situation in the country. Since April, the provision of planned health care services has been partially resumed. As previously mentioned, the accessibility to health care services has caused difficulties for the majority of respondents.  Because of that during May 2020 the availability of planned health care services was expanded. The Ministry of Health noted that, as before, medical institutions must continue to take precautionary measures. They will have to ensure a separate flow of patients, limit the number of patients staying on the premises of the treatment facility at the same time and set a precise time of arrival for healthcare services. Medical institutions and patients will also have to provide personal protective equipment, and disinfection measures will have to be taken after each patient’s visit.

Conclusion

In general, the society of Latvia sees the existing restrictions as difficult but needed. Only a minor proportion of the residents of Latvia do not follow after the enforced limitations regarding the outbreak of Coronavirus. One of the biggest encumbrances for the residents of Latvia has been the narrowed accessibility to planned healthcare services. Therefore, during May 2020, the Ministry of Healthcare accepted the expansion of availability towards health care services. With the declaration of emergency situation, additional challenge in social sector of Latvia has become the increasement of domestic violence as the number of crisis phone calls have increased by 36%. To limit the outbreak of Coronavirus during May 2020 the Ministry of Health expanded the Covid-19 testing groups including pre-school workers and international transport providers without symptoms.

[1] https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/latvija/ministrs-9maija-policija-stradaja-profesionali-uzvaras-parka-pabija-20-25-tukstosi-cilveku.a359252/

[2] https://www.diena.lv/raksts/viedokli/latvija/premjers-uzskata-ka-pirms-9.maija-bija-plasak-jaskaidro-sabiedribai-par-pulcesanas-ierobezojumiem-14241200

[3] https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/latvija/rigas-pasvaldibas-policija-vardarbiba-gimene-pieaug.a358897/

[4] https://www.skds.lv

*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute

Latvia economy briefing: Recovering of the economics of Latvia after the impact of Covid-19

The current macroeconomic development scenario of the economics of Latvia assumes that the pandemic will be contained in the first half of 2020 and that economic activity will gradually recover thereafter. During May 2020 more attention has been put on currently the weakest point of economics – tourism and as well the formation of the future of the economics of Latvia. 

The parliament of Latvia offers a two-tier support mechanism for companies in the hospitality and accommodation sectors to be reopen

The losses of the tourism sector since the middle of March have amounted to at least 77 million Euros. One of the biggest challenges since the pandemic declaration is the lack of capital turnover. In both sectors of hospitality and accommodation – around 4,000 small and medium-sized enterprises have been directly affected, creating a catastrophic situation in the workforce, with around 40,000 workers affected.[1] The general situation in the country currently and the epidemiological improvements with the virus containment allows local tourism service providers to resume work, following the necessary health and safety requirements.  The ministry of Economics together with the tourism industry have discussed and reviewed all possible options for support mechanisms so that the industry can recover from the virus-induced forced stopping of operation, continue to provide jobs and be ready to start the tourist season. In addition, comprehensive advertising campaigns for local tourism and neighboring countries will be launched to stimulate local demand. Currently, by providing direct and real support, the Latvian tourism companies will be supported, providing employment opportunities for the residents, and achieve an economic breakthrough in the tourism sector, especially in the regions. The Ministry of Economics has developed a special support mechanism for the accommodation and catering sectors, which had practically stopped operating due to the declaration of a state of emergency in the country. In order to promote the resumption of business during the tourist season, a two-stage support mechanism is offered – to promote employment in both the accommodation and catering sectors, and tour operator service providers are offered to introduce a 3-month grant to maintain the company’s economic activity. In turn, a mechanism for receiving interest-free loans will be developed for businesses to resume economic activity and increase capacity. The two-stage support mechanism for the resumption of activities in the tourism sector will offer a grant for the operation, as well as an interest-free unsecured working capital loan. Grants to promote employment for entrepreneurs will promote the services of accommodation, hospitality, or tour operators. The aid can be used by the entrepreneur to cover various operating costs, including staff salaries, rent of premises, purchase of goods, etc. The aid is expected to be granted within a period of 3 months after payment of current salary and taxes. In turn, the interest-free unsecured working capital loan is intended for the resumption of economic activity.

In the Covid-19 crisis, the Latvian media is deeply affected by the decline in advertising revenue

In addition to many industries in Latvia, the media also has been alarming about their future – both broadcasters and print media, which work in rather tense conditions in the state of emergency declared in the country. The biggest concern in the media is the sharp decline in advertising revenue. Advertising revenue for some media has decreased even by 80%.[2] Although even prior the Latvian media had been facing difficulties the Covid-19 crisis has cultivated to even broader problems that has led to decrease in salaries, redundancies and even some platforms are considering closing printed publications. Because of that it is foreseen that in the future of the media of Latvia the share of paid content will increase.

To ensure the continuous operation of Latvian manufacturing companies, borders will be opened for the flow of labor

The continuous operation of Latvian manufacturing, exporting and national security companies is vital for the recovery of the Latvian economy in the near future. Moreover, during these challenging times, these companies continue to maintain stable jobs. It is therefore important to ensure that investment projects are not affected, and that the operation of these companies is not hampered by the operation of equipment, the receipt of the necessary certificates or the recruitment of qualified specialists. Because of that during May 2020, the order came into force, stipulating that foreigner workers will not have to observe self-isolation (home quarantine) upon arrival in Latvia if they do not show any signs of an acute respiratory infection.[3] The order from the Ministry of Economics stipulates that a foreign employee will be able to work in Latvia for no longer than five days, but in some cases not longer than a month. At the same time, a Latvian company whose obligations to a foreigner have arrived in Latvia will have to certify that the foreigner meets the criteria specified in the order, that it is not infected with Covid-19 infection and will comply with all Latvian restrictions related to the emergency, including personal protective equipment and will measure body temperature twice a day.

The impact of Covid-19 on the labor market is mitigated by state aid measures

The decline in economic activity, which has been affected by the introduction of Covid-19 restrictive measures both in the world and in Latvia, has a significant impact on the labor market as a whole. As labor-intensive sectors are primarily affected – transport services / passenger transport, travel agency and tour operator reservation services, accommodation and catering services, arts and various cultural fields, sports centers and other sectors directly related to population movement and assembly. The number of jobs in the directly affected sectors in 2019 alone amounted to about 60 thousand jobs, which is about 7% of the total number of jobs in the economy.

At the same time, it should be noted that the support measures introduced so far have generally mitigated the negative effects of Covid-19 on the labor market. By 18 May this year, more than 45,000 workers and the self-employed had received a downtime allowance, which has partly ensured the preservation of jobs and income during the emergency period. [4]

Meanwhile, both the registered unemployment rates and the dynamics of registered vacancies in general show that the situation in the labor market is gradually stabilizing. According to the State Employment Agency, the growth in the number of registered jobseekers in May has been almost three times slower than in April. However, starting from the beginning of May, the number of registered vacancies has stabilized and resumed growing – from this year. From 5 May to 21 May, the number of vacancies has increased by more than 2,000.

Although the labor market situation has gradually stabilized, it should be borne in mind that with economic activity remaining low for a long period of time and without appropriate state support measures, the situation may change rapidly. Despite the fact that, in general, state aid has ensured the preservation of jobs in the short term, which will allow companies to recover more quickly in the post-crisis period, as well as maintaining economic activity, most of the jobs measures, they can be lost quickly. Against this background, both the overall decline in real employment and the rise in unemployment are higher, partly due to the idle labor force.

According to the Ministry of Economics, the total real (including idle) reduction of the employed population in 2020 could reach 7.5% on average, but the unemployment rate could increase to about 11%.

Summary

To stimulate the tourism sector the parliament of Latvia has created two-tier support mechanisms for companies, which have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 crisis. As the current situation allows to reopen the tourism sector there have been discussed variety of options to ensure the financial recovery of the sector. The two-stage support mechanism for the resumption of activities in the tourism sector will offer a grant for the operation, as well as an interest-free unsecured working capital loan by that providing opportunity to cover salaries of workers, rent and other expenses.  Additionally, during May 2020 the topic on the future of the media of Latvia had been raised. The of revenue from advertisements has rapidly decreased, which has led to redundancies, cut in salaries in the sector. From that it is seen that the share of paid content could experience rise in Latvia. To ensure the continuation of the economy of Latvia the borders will be reopened for the flow of labor that foreigner workers will not have to observe self-isolation upon arrival in Latvia. Up until the middle of May this year, more than 45,000 workers and the self-employed had received a downtime allowance, which has partly ensured the preservation of jobs and income during the emergency period.  Additionally, both the registered unemployment rates and the dynamics of registered vacancies in general show that the situation in the labor market is gradually stabilizing.

[1] https://www.em.gov.lv/lv/jaunumi/27909-vitenbergs-viesmilibas-un-izmitinasanas-sektora-uznemumiem-darbibas-atsaksanai-piedavajam-divu-pakapju-atbalsta-mehanismu

[2] https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/arzemes/covid-19-krize-baltijas-medijus-vissmagak-skar-reklamas-ienemumu-kritums.a360549/

[3] https://www.em.gov.lv/lv/jaunumi/27888-vitenbergs-arkartejas-situacijas-laika-ir-butiski-nodrosinat-latvijas-razojoso-uznemumu-nepartrauktu-darbibu

[4] https://www.em.gov.lv/lv/jaunumi/27945-covid-19-ietekmi-uz-darba-tirgu-mazina-valsts-atbalsta-pasakumi

*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute

Latvia external relations briefing: Latvia lifts travel restrictions during the Covid-19 crisis and open borders between Baltic States

The unprecedented situation of the spread of the COVID-19 has created challenges for all states that will impact their economies and societies for the foreseeable time, and has highlighted the importance of cooperation between nations and governments, starting from close neighbours. Cooperation between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has been traditionally very close. It is based on common interests and goals of the three countries in foreign and security policy, fostering economic development, and cooperation in the European Union (EU). In May 2020, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia was working intensively in order to coordinate cooperation of three Baltics States and partners on the incremental easing of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania agree on actions needed to establish an area for freedom of movement

Latvian government has been cooperating closely with Lithuania and Estonia, so that an agreement with respect to the Baltic States internal borders can be finalized.  On May 6, Prime Ministers of all three Baltic States has agreed to reciprocally open the borders on 15 May 2020 to restore the movement for the three countries’ citizens, and persons legally residing in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “We unite three countries in one common space. It means that people from Lithuania to Estonia would travel through Latvia without restrictions and vice versa,”[1] said Prime Minister of Latvia Mr. Krišjānis Kariņš.

Decision to open the borders between the Baltic states was based on the similar epidemiological situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The understanding between the Baltic States on the journeys of their residents does not affect restrictions on entry set by other countries concerning the Latvian nationals. The external border with Russia and Belarus remains closed.

The prime ministers also discussed regional transport and energy infrastructure projects, which will play an important role in combating the effects of the Covid-19 crisis and the region’s economic recovery. Continued close cooperation at the regional, EU and global level and working jointly, step by step, remains the keyword, with common objective to being able soon to eliminate restrictions related to COVID-19, help to restore much needed economic activities and free movement throughout the EU and Schengen area as soon as possible, taking-into-account the epidemiological situation of countries and health requirements.

Latvia opens borders between Baltic States since 15 May

On 15 May 2020, the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Lifting of Travel Restrictions between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for Land, Rail, Air and Maritime Transport and Cooperation thereof during the COVID-19 Crisis, which provides agreement for removing restrictions on cross-border travel of persons between the Baltic States. During the meeting, the Foreign Ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have discussed cooperation between the Baltic States during the COVID-19 crisis, the recovery of regional economies and topics on the agenda of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council.

It was agreed by all three countries that, the nationals of the Baltic States and persons legally residing in the three countries may travel in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania without any restrictions since 15 May, provided that the person:

  • has not travelled outside the Baltic States for the last 14 days;
  • is not in self-isolation due to having tested positive for COVID-19 or having been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19;
  • has no symptoms of a respiratory infection[2].

The above-mentioned individuals are allowed to cross the Estonian-Latvian border and the Latvian-Lithuanian border in their own vehicle or using the passenger transportation services available. Such persons are exempt from the quarantine requirement both upon entering the neighbouring country and returning home. The nationals and permanent residents of Latvia who arrive in Estonia or Lithuania from other countries may cross the territories of Estonia or Lithuania in transit only and on the condition that they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

The air flights have been resumed between Baltic states, to Germany and Norway

With the introduction of a comprehensive epidemiological safety program #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling[3], Riga Airport will resume international passenger flights to Vilnius, Tallinn, Oslo and Frankfurt on Monday, 18 May. Four flights daily will be operated by the national airline airBaltic. After receiving a special permission from the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Latvia, airBaltic will also resume direct flights from Riga to Helsinki and Munich on May 25, 2020, and from Riga to Berlin on June 1, 2020.

The program #ForbidTheVirusFromTravelling was introduced to provide a set of measures for the protection of the Airport and Airport employees and the safe handling of passengers in order to minimize the risks of the spread of COVID-19. In developing the program, the Airport has consulted with Latvian health authorities and taken-into-account the recommendations of international aviation organizations.

Latvian Foreign Minister takes part in a videoconference of the Council of the Baltic Sea States to discuss cooperation in regard with COVID-19 pandemic

On 19 May 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in a videoconference of the Foreign Ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) arranged by the Danish Presidency. The ministers were joined by the Secretary General of the European External Action Service.

The participants shared views on current cooperation and challenges in the Baltic Sea region, including in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and cooperation to address its consequences.

The Latvian Foreign Minister underlined the importance of the Roadmap of CBSS Reforms 2018–2020. The Roadmap underlined the need for the CBSS to become more flexible, innovative and productive, being able to cooperate with its partners in the region more closely and effectively, while retaining its ability to deliver concrete results in areas in which the CBSS is uniquely suited. The document underscored the high importance of regional cooperation formats.

Regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, participants underlined the importance of strengthened cooperation in the field of civil protection and encouraged the CBSS Civil Protection Network to focus on prevention, preparedness and relevant research actions. They also recommended continuing relevant cooperation through the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being. The Latvian Foreign Minister noted that exit from the current crisis must take place by both increasing economic growth and facilitating the achievement of goals in addressing climate change with a view to facilitating sustainable development of the Baltic Sea region.[4]

Baltic states and Germany talk over security matters

Latvia extended its cooperation also with Germany to tackle negative effects of the Covid-19 crisis. On 20 May 2020, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Baltic States and Germany held security policy consultations online. The consultations addressed the latest security policy related developments in the context of the upcoming German Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). The topics discussed were the development of the EU security and defense initiatives, strengthening of the EU’s crisis management capabilities, and security aspects of dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis not only in the Member States but also in EU neighbourhood. According to release, the participants were in complete agreement that the EU should continue strengthening its security and defense capabilities.  The consultations also addressed matters on the NATO agenda, including NATO’s role and action during the pandemic, and the reflection process to further strengthen the Alliance’s political dimension.[5]

Conclusion

As a consequence of measures taken by the states in recent months, progress towards countering the spread of the COVID-19 has been made and the gradual easing of restrictive measures has commenced. On 15 May 2020, the Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gathered in Riga to sign a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding on lifting travel restrictions between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for land, rail, air and maritime transport and cooperation thereof during the COVID-19 crisis. This memorandum is accompanying the decision initially taken by the three Baltic states’ Prime Ministers on 6 May 2020 to reciprocally open the borders on 15 May 2020 to restore the movement for the three countries’ citizens, and persons legally residing in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and respective individual decisions by the Governments of the Baltic states. Internal borders between Baltic states were open and flights to several directions gradually resumed. Latvia has also continued its cooperation with Council of Baltic Sea States and Germany to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

References:

[1] Prime Ministers agree to allow free movement of citizens between Baltic States since 15 May (in Latvian): https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/latvija/premjeri-vienojas-no-15-maija-atlaut-iedzivotaju-brivu-kustibu-baltijas-valstis.a358688/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news

[2] Memorandum of understanding of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Available:https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/66003-memorandum-of-understanding-of-latvia-lithuania-and-estonia

[3] Riga Airport website: https://www.riga-airport.com/press-room-2/news-2/riga-airport-resumes-flights-in-the-conditions-of-increased-epidemiological-safety/en

[4] Bornholm Declaration. Available at: https://www.cbss.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Bornholm-Declaration.pdf

[5] Baltic states and Germany talk over security matters. Available: https://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/diplomacy/baltic-states-and-germany-talk-over-security-matters.a360687/

[1] https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/latvija/premjeri-vienojas-no-15-maija-atlaut-iedzivotaju-brivu-kustibu-baltijas-valstis.a358688/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news

[2] https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/latest-news/66003-memorandum-of-understanding-of-latvia-lithuania-and-estonia

[3] https://www.riga-airport.com/press-room-2/news-2/riga-airport-resumes-flights-in-the-conditions-of-increased-epidemiological-safety/en

[4] https://www.cbss.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Bornholm-Declaration.pdf

[5] https://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/diplomacy/baltic-states-and-germany-talk-over-security-matters.a360687/

*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute

Latvia political briefing: The political strategy of Latvia – recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and innovation

During the Covid-19 crisis Latvia has become globally recognizable for the successful approach to amortize the consequences of the global pandemic while the restrictions were comparatively loose in comparison to other countries. Overall the total cases per 100 000 have been reported as one of the lowest in Europe while the total tests conducted per new confirmed case of Covid-19 is one of the highest in Europe.[1] The testing capacity together with informing the society about the importance of the prevention measures has led Latvia to start a gradual transformation to ease the restrictions. 

The Cabinet of Ministers supports the Covid-19 Governance Law           

In May, the Cabinet of Ministers supported the draft law “Law on the Management of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection” jointly developed by the Ministry of Justice and other responsible institutions, which aims to establish a general legal order after the end of the emergency by providing appropriate precautionary measures.[2]

The responsible authorities have compiled and consolidated the necessary aspects in one law, which will help to comply with epidemiological safety measures and prevent the spread of Covid-19, as well as provide the public administration and citizens with clear rules during Covid-19. In turn, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health will regulate significant changes in the law regarding economic and epidemiological issues.The draft law determines the basic principles of the activities of state institutions, including the provision of services by courts and local governments after the end of an emergency situation. Appropriate precautions and restrictions for individuals, including special conditions for the provision of educational, sports, social and health services during the Covid-19 deployment period following the lifting of the emergency.Given the changing and unpredictable nature of the spread of Covid-19, the draft law provides for the possibility for the Cabinet of Ministers to decide on practical implementation measures to control Covid-19 in case of spread or threat of Covid-19 infection in order to respond in time to changes in the country and abroad.The new Covid-19 infection control law will be applicable as long as there is an epidemiological safety threat related to the spread of Covid-19 infection. After the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, the law will be able to be repealed by the government by a separate decision.

The Cabinet of Ministers approves the Strategy for Latvia to Mitigate the Consequences of the Covid-19 Crisis

Although Latvia has been globally recognized as one of the most successful examples to adapt and come to solutions regarding pandemic, nevertheless it has led to new challenges. Because of the internal and external restrictions, it is seen that the Covid-19 will leave
inevitable consequences to the economic, social, political and other fields. However, as the most pressing epidemiological point of Covid-19 had already reached its peak during the beginning of April and since then experienced recession as the cumulative cases have dropped by 7 times a strategy to mitigate the created difficulties caused by the outbreak of the virus  has been developed. [3]

In order to overcome the crisis caused by the Covid-19 virus in Latvia, as well as return to the pre-crisis level as soon as possible, the Cabinet of Ministers together with entrepreneurs, industry experts and organizations representing entrepreneurs developed plan for mitigating the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, which  consequently was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers during May 2020. The short-term goal of the strategy to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on Latvia is to achieve as little negative impact on the economy and business operations as possible, while in the long run to achieve structural changes in the productivity-driven economy in favor of knowledge-intensive exports of goods and services. At the same time, it is important to reduce unemployment and the share of low-skilled workers, to develop and increase innovation and research capacity, to promote digitalization solutions and the availability of financial instruments for entrepreneurs.In the current challenges, the political strategy of Latvia is primarily to stabilize the Latvian economy, while maintaining a strategic course, in order to accelerate the structural reorientation of the productivity-based economy. Currently it is seen to be implemented by adapting the economy to global trends in a timely manner and creating new comparative advantages. At the same time, the economic stabilization phase includes actions aimed at boosting export capacity and productivity, as well as improving the business environment.The current political strategy of Latvia includes 5 directions of action – human capital, innovation, business environment for export capacity, access to finance and infrastructure, in which measures are planned in the three following steps and in respective time periods.Economic stabilization period – measures to be implemented in 2020 aimed at stabilizing the financial situation of the population and entrepreneurs in the conditions of the Covid-19 crisis and limiting the spread of the virus in Latvia.Reorientation period – measures to be implemented in 2021-2022, which, taking into account the changes in the global economy caused by the Covid-19 crisis, as well as using the advantages and challenges of the Latvian economy, create new opportunities for entrepreneurs and citizens, focusing on innovation, digital transformation, lifelong learning , and focusing on structural changes in the economy through targeted adjustment of state aid mechanisms.
Growth phase – from 2023 onwards measures for economic transformation based on dynamic development of exports of goods and services, ensuring economic growth through productivity growth, automation, digital transformation, support for business growth and fast-growing industries and ecosystems.

Parliament of Latvia – one of the first in the world ready to work in the e-Parliament mode

The Parliament of Latvia is one of the first parliaments in the world that is ready to work completely remotely during the crisis caused by Covid-19. Because of the new e-Parliament tool, parliamentary sittings can now be held remotely, with deputies also staying outside parliamentary premises. At the same time, the work of the Parliament will still be open to the public, and everyone interested, as before, will be able to follow the proceedings of the remote sitting live on the Parliament website and on the Parliament’s social media accounts.[4]

The new tool is a unique information technology solution created specifically for the needs of the Parliament of Latvia. It provides the most important functionalities of the parliamentary sitting – an opportunity for deputies to both debate and vote on the issues on the agenda of the Parliament sitting. Both of these features work online in real time. The e-Parliament tool has been developed in an emergency mode in just a few weeks, in response to the restrictions on assembly caused by the Covid-19 crisis and the need to switch to remote work, as well as the call of the heads of state constitutional bodies to use parliamentary work.
If the e-Parliament technological solution developed for the needs of an emergency situation proves itself and allows to ensure the quality of the work of the parliament, there is a possibility to use it for the daily work of the Parliament sittings, respectively, deputies working on the spot in the Parliament.

This project not only proves Latvia as a country of technological innovation, but also opens a new direction of political governance. Parliaments, in cooperation with IT specialists, have been able to create a modern technological solution that allows the parliament to work successfully in emergency situations even when the deputies are outside the parliament. The tasks set by the heads of the constitutional bodies together with the President of the Latvia have been implemented – all branches of power are able to work fully in exceptional circumstances, following the objectives and basic principles of regulating judiciary.

The implementation of the e-Parliament project has also received criticism from the members of Parliament as some of deputies do not have sufficient amount of knowledge to operate in e-Parliament platform. In addition to that other member of the Parliament of Latvia have stressed that there is no practical need for the e-Parliament and the government should return back to the previous working system.

Summary

As the number of active cases of Covid-19 has been decreasing, during May 2020 the Cabinet of Minister supported the Covid-19 Governance Law, which aims to establish a general legal order after the end of the emergency by providing appropriate precautionary measures Additionally, the Cabinet of Ministers have created the Strategy for Latvia to mitigate the consequences of the Covid-19 Crisis mainly putting focus on productivity-driven economy, reduction of unemployment and the share of low-skilled workers to stimulate the fields of innovation. The Covid-19 has contributed to the creation of new innovations in fields of politics. During May 2020 the Parliament of Latvia became one of the first Parliaments in the world, which could ensure its operations fully online. The e-Parliament tool has been developed in an emergency mode in just a few weeks, in response to the restrictions on assembly caused by the Covid-19 crisis, it provides the most important functionalities of the parliamentary sitting – an opportunity for deputies to both debate and vote on the issues on the agenda of the Parliament sitting.

[1] https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-testing

[2] https://www.mk.gov.lv/lv/aktualitates/ministru-kabinets-atbalsta-covid-19-parvaldibas-likumu

[3] https://spkc.gov.lv/lv/tavai-veselibai/aktualitate-par-jauno-koronavi

[4] https://www.saeima.lv/lv/aktualitates/saeimas-zinas/28981-parlaments-gatavs-darbam-e-saeimas-rezima

*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intelectual property of China-CEE institute