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    system It has emerged in a comparison of European healthcare systems that the country that offers the best price quality ratio is Estonia Postimees On Read More Khodorkovsky in Vilnius don t make Putin a martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky a former oligarch and a key figure in Russia s political opposition gave the following speech at the Me Read More Baltic countries join Ukraine to call for EU UN action The governments of all three Baltic countries have backed Ukraine s call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to take place a Read More Dutch company offers to replace Latvia s pavilion at Expo 2015 with park As uncertainty continues over Latvia s participation in the Expo 2015 exhibition to be held in Milan Netherlands based company Gestalt Comm Read More NATO reassurances and Baltic defence cooperation getting the balance right NATO s reassurances for Central and Eastern Europe CEE outlined at the Wales Summit in September have been described as flexible Read More Former president Adamkus Lithuania s most popular public figure Grybauskaite approval rating falls Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius and the former president Valdas Adamkus top the list of the country Read More Letter from Riga what next for Latvia s foreign policy Latvia s current strategic thinking on foreign policy is quite comfortably situated in line with the EU s common policies Riga has Read More Previous 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 Next Subscribe Advertise Log In Please enter your username and password Forgot your password Login Subscribe A subscription to The Baltic Times is a cost effective way of staying in touch with the latest Baltic news and views enabling you full access from anywhere with an Internet connection Subscribe Now About The Baltic Times

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/search/jcms/start/1340/ (2016-02-13)
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    has not terminated its cooperation agreement with Russia s leading political party United Ru Read More Russia and the Baltics Once Friend Now Foe MOSCOW This may be hard to imagine but there was a time when the national independence movements in the Baltic states had no greater al Read More Latvia takes over responsibility for NATO Contact Embassy in Belarus Latvia has assumed the functions of the NATO Contact Embassy in Belarus which it will hold until the end of 2016 the country s Foreign Min Read More Baltic house price increases among fastest in EU House prices in all three Baltic countries increased by over 10 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2014 according to new data from th Read More 58 of Latvia s male citizens ready to take up arms to protect country Almost 60 percent of male citizens of Latvia and 80 percent of those who are reservists of Latvia s National Armed Forces would be ready t Read More Tartu University ranked fifth in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Estonia s University of Tartu appears in fifth position in a new list produced by QS of the top 100 universities in emerging Europe qu Read More Russian media claims that Russian language banned in Latvian workplaces A recent statement from Latvia s State Language Centre urging people to use Latvian at work has been portrayed in the Russian media as a ban Read More Previous 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 Next Subscribe Advertise Log In Please enter your username and password Forgot your password Login Subscribe A subscription to The Baltic Times is a cost effective way of staying in touch with the latest Baltic news and views enabling you full access from anywhere with an

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  • Gold and silver for Latvian brothers in skeleton World Cup
    glory of first and second position in the world overall The race in Sochi Russia was won by homeland favorite Alexander Tretyakov and Yun Sin Bin of South Korea finished in bronze position Martins Dukurs ended the eight stages with 1770 points while Tomass Dukurs scored 1526 Placing third this season was Germany s Axel Jungk who had 1408 Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma was quick to congratulate the brothers on their success declaring our athletes are outstanding Latvia is on a wave Martins and Tomass have proven that they are the highest class professionals This success came just a day after Latvia s bobsleigh team piloted by Oskars Melbardis won this season s World Cup By doing so Melbardis became the just the fifth pilot in history to win the Bobsleigh World Cup for both the two man and four man competitions in the same season Comments Related Articles U S heavy weaponry to be deployed in Latvia from autumn 2015 Latvia Lumbers Towards Higher Spending on Defence Russia Today requests permission to establish Latvian subsidiary Subscribe Advertise Log In Please enter your username and password Forgot your password Login Related Articles Latvian government reaches for guns over health care Crude oil leaks from Latvia s VNT terminal Latvia and China discuss bilateral cooperation Drunk AirBaltic crew sentenced to jail in Norwegian court Subscribe A subscription to The Baltic Times is a cost effective way of staying in touch with the latest Baltic news and views enabling you full access from anywhere with an Internet connection Subscribe Now About The Baltic Times The Baltic Times is an independent monthly newspaper that covers latest political economic business and cultural events in Estonia Latvia and Lithuania Born of a merger between The Baltic Independent and The Baltic Observer in 1996 The

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  • Estonia and Hungary: a very Finno-Ugric feud
    quite a revelation to this orphaned nation In fact the general public did not take to it with particular enthusiasm that the proud Hungarians rulers of a great Central European empire were kin to wandering Siberian folk was viewed as faintly insulting Hungarians had been somewhat convinced there was a connection to the Turks and the discredited Ugric Altaic theory which links the two languages is still occasionally revived by Hungarian thinkers of an anachronistic bent as a modern guide to the Hungarian language puts it compared to Attila s glorious armies Samoyedic fur trappers and Finnish fisherman Csanad a wise Hungarian friend tells me that Hungarian has a specific phrase to express this disappointment halzsiros atyafisag the sense of which is best translated undesirable brotherhood but also incorporating the words for fish and fat to underline their disdainful attitude towards these uncouth wild Northerners eating their strange raw foods It s true that the vocabulary differs almost completely only one sentence mutually intelligible across Hungarian Finnish and Estonian has ever been discovered But the link is discernible on the level of grammar where most Indo European languages employ prepositions to indicate the relationship of nouns to each other the Finno Ugric tongues deploy a bewildering array of suffixes to modify the back ends of nouns it s tempting if perhaps too simplistic to draw a link to the shamanism of their Central Asian home cultures that see the world as unfixed fluid everything as influencing everything else Jaan Kaplinski Estonian poet and scholar of the Finno Ugric language family has pointed out that these languages are all characterised by heavy use of word pairs through which new concepts are named not by coining a new phrase but by the pincer like use of two similar words as though accepting language s inadequacy Kaplinski says of Finno Ugric people we live and communicate in a world in which objects phenomena events and activities are not specifically defined in advance or to put it more simply have not been named in advance Aurally the similarities are not immediately apparent while Estonian is a chirruping dizzying thing leaning heavily on strongly voiced consonants to support the swooping lengthy vowels Hungarian has a rat a tat rhythm sounding at times like a snare drum rapping out some odd time signature or marbles dropped on a tiled floor But there is something common to both of them although it s hard to explain just what something about their unearthly disconcerting sound these people just seem to use different parts of their mouths to other Europeans the upper and outer regions being used far more for articulation Regardless of anything else all three are utterly different to their Slavic Baltic Latin and Scandinavian neighbours and each country has derived the majority of its sense of itself from this distinction we re not those guys we re us even if we don t quite know what that is And despite this initial ambivalence especially in Hungary Finno Ugric societies did develop dedicated to studying the countries shared heritage The Finno Ugric Society was set up in the 1920s in Tartu and the Hungarian Scientific Institute was also founded in the same town in 1923 by a Hungarian professor and lawyer Istvan Csekey Finno Ugric days primarily cultural celebrations were held in Estonia from 1928 onwards The institute closed and the days ceased after the Soviet occupation presumably the authorities thought that reminders of friends beyond their borders would create further separatist feelings amongst the Estonians But just a year after the restoration of Estonia s independence in 1991 the Hungary restored its cultural representation in Tallinn initially prompted by a group of enthusiasts it continued as a small scale project with just a couple of full time employees until 2001 when the Hungarian government agreed to fund it and opened a Balassi Institute in the capital city The Balassi Institute is Hungary s equivalent of the British Council or the Goethe Institut and is as far as I m aware the most extensive chain of cultural centres of any country of a comparable size and population there are 23 centres worldwide from Istanbul to India Stuttgart to Sfantu Gheorghe a reminder that Hungary was once an imperial power and still sees itself as one of Europe s most distinctive and important cultures Last month keen to find out the state of relations between these two distant relatives in a climate very different from when those ties were first established I visited the Balassi Institute in Tallinn It certainly has pride of place a great cream coloured slab solid and secure set up above the slanting red brick roofs of the Old Town up on Toompea Tallinn s mantelpiece where all the very important buildings are Urmas the half Estonian half Hungarian director of the institute is a kindly scholarly man who seems simultaneously in love with the culture of both of his countries and a little worn down by the strain of seeing things from both perspectives Over excellent Estonian pastries and tea with homemade honey we talk of Estonia and Hungary and the surprising or accidental ties between them ties he is tasked with continuing He defends the domestic behaviour of the Orban government without seeming wildly enthusiastic about it I suppose they do pay his salary but concedes that part of the reason why they see things differently from Estonia in foreign policy is their physical removal from the threatening eastern neighbour Russia is not a big concern of the Hungarian border guards Still friendships cultivated for years cannot so quickly be severed one of the small interesting things that Urmas tells me is that attending school in Communist Hungary he was expected to read two or three works of Estonian literature the requirement would have been the same for anyone wanting to study literature in a serious fashion Jaan Kross probably Estonia s most internationally famous writer read Hungarian and translated a number

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/estonia_and_hungary__a_very_finno-ugric_feud_108630569454df593963f89/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Lithuania's how-to manual for foreign invasion
    cannot rule out a similar kind of situation here added Olekas who noted in the manual s introduction that he had received frequent questions about our homeland defense from ordinary Lithuanian citizens The publication which is also available for download from the Defense Ministry website offers suggestions and practical advice for everything from converting cellars to shelters to knowing how to react when enemy soldiers show up at family homes It also includes instructions for appropriate forms of civil disobedience in the event of an occupation strikes blockades disinformation and the online organization of cyberattacks against the enemy Although the publication makes no specific mention of Russia it offers advice on how to respond in a hybrid war situation involving armed soldiers with no insignia or any evident government affiliation an obvious reference to the war in Ukraine where Moscow has repeatedly rejected accusations of providing arms and soldiers to support separatist militia fighters Lithuanian citizens who notice unknown and unidentified armed groups operating in their neighborhood or elsewhere should notify the authorities the manual advises adding that the Lithuanian armed forces have newly operational rapid reaction units that can respond to a threat and neutralize it Contingency Plans The pamphlet s tone is no nonsense and occasionally wry Gunshots outside your window are not the end of the world one section admonishes Another line urges that passive resistance should at the very least involve doing your job worse than usual But many of the scenarios outlined in the manual are deeply alarming in a country with a 50 year history of violent Soviet occupation and which just last week marked the anniversary of a bloody confrontation between independence demonstrators and Soviet troops in 1991 Despite its NATO and EU membership Lithuania s geographic location leaves it permanently in peril uncomfortably squeezed between Russia friendly Belarus and Russia s own Kaliningrad Oblast a coastal exclave and home to Moscow s Baltic Sea Fleet The Kremlin meanwhile has begun to ramp up another form of pressure against Lithuania threatening to prosecute approximately 1 500 Lithuanians who deserted mandatory military service under the Soviet Union Russia which is suspected of using its weapons and soldiers to aid separatist aims in eastern Ukraine may be using the threat against Lithuania as a way of expressing its disapproval of Vilnius s open support of the Kyiv government and Ukrainian troops With this in mind the Defense Ministry manual prepares Lithuanians for the notion of possible evacuation a prospect that would involve a drive south to Poland or west to the coast to catch ferry transport to Poland Germany Sweden or Finland The coastline headquarters of Lithuania s LNG gas terminal of strategic value to any foreign invader makes departure by sea potentially dangerous however Lithuanians are being advised to make contingency plans in case of evacuation keeping car tanks full packing food and supplies in advance and considering the special needs of elderly family members small children and pets In the meantime Lithuania is

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/lithuania_s_how-to_manual_for_foreign_invasion/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Baltics rise in World Press Freedom Index
    fell slightly while Latvia and Lithuania s both increased Media freedom suffered a drastic decline worldwide last year in part because of extremist groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders also known as Reporters Sans Frontieres or RSF said in its annual evaluation released on Thursday Finland was assessed as the country with the highest level of media freedom for the fifth consecutive year although its overall score decreased The other countries in the top five were also all in northern Europe Norway Denmark the Netherlands and Sweden The country with the lowest level of media freedom is Eritrea followed by North Korea and Turkmenistan Some neighbours of the Baltics also received low scores Belarus was placed 157th out of 180 while the Russian Federation was 152nd overall There has been an overall deterioration linked to very different factors with information wars and action by non state groups acting like news despots the head of the Paris based group Christophe Deloire told AFP The RSF 2015 World Press Freedom Index stated that there were 3 719 violations of freedom of information in 180 countries in 2014 eight percent more than a year earlier Comments Related Articles Linkevicius to replace Grybauskaite at London conference Ukrainian NSDC Secretary Russia waging hybrid warfare on EU Lithuanian Health Minister to resign over corruption scandal Subscribe Advertise Log In Please enter your username and password Forgot your password Login Related Articles NATO to bolster presence in Eastern Europe Lithuanian Foreign Minister slams Ukraine over insufficient anti corruption measures Refugee family relocated to Latvia left one child behind in Eritrea Report NATO would lose against Russia in invasion of Baltic states Subscribe A subscription to The Baltic Times is a cost effective way of staying in touch with the

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/baltics_rise_in_world_press_freedom_index/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Latvian President to meet ministers, PM to discuss problem of population decline
    most serious and urgent problem that Latvia has to tackle and the government appears to not have realized the gravity of the problem Vitols stressed during the meeting However all is not lost said Mezs mentioning the example of Estonia and the political decisions that the Estonian government more than ten years ago in support of nuclear families The current tax policy of Latvia is the main obstacle for families wishing to have two or more children said Mezs explaining that taxes in Latvia are currently more favourable towards childless families than families with children We in our country have in fact punished people who have more children exposing them to higher risk of poverty than families that have none This situation must be rectified at once emphasised Mezs Participants in the meeting agreed that support for families comprised not only maternity benefits and opportunity for moms to have longer maternity leave but that it should also translate into the policy on non taxable minimum salary This would mean making a choice between a non taxable minimum equal for everyone and a higher minimum for families with children Nakotnes Fonds proposes that the non taxable minimum income for persons with children be increased to the same level as that for pensioners from 165 euros a month to 235 euros Taking into consideration Estonia s experience Latvia could also consider earlier retirement indexing pension savings supporting mortgages for families and other measures Nakotnes Fonds is an organization developing proposals for improving the demographic situation in Latvia and informing the public about demographics and related matters D Comments Related Articles U S heavy weaponry to be deployed in Latvia from autumn 2015 Latvia Lumbers Towards Higher Spending on Defence Russia Today requests permission to establish Latvian subsidiary Subscribe Advertise Log In Please

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/latvian_president_to_meet_ministers__president_to_discuss_problem_of_population_decline/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The story of Latgale's unofficial flag
    flagpoles outside the government building fly the flags of Latvia the EU Balvi District the town of Balvi and Latgale s unofficial flag Although the municipal flag is used at official events citizens fly the unofficial flag outside their homes according to Kaļva The chairman of Viļaka District Council Sergejs Maksimovs showed Delfi that on the flagpole outside the local government building along with the flags of Latvia the EU Viļaka District and Viļaka itself flies the unofficial flag of Latgale Although he hasn t noticed the unofficial flag outside private residences Maksimovs proudly reported that a number of petrol stations do fly this flag which they were presented with by the local government Maksimovs explained that these was given to the owners for their courage in opening a new petrol station there when a couple of kilometres away in Russia petrol is half the price Forbidden fruit for local governments This is a tragic situation the head of the Heraldry Commission Ramona Umblija said regarding the use of the unofficial flag of Latgale Edgars Pastars an expert on national law told Delfi that local governments are not permitted to use this unofficial symbol national and local authorities have to use flags with coats of arms fixed by law But national law doesn t regulate private individuals there are no legal barriers to them flying the flag It s not understood what local governments are trying to say with these actions but private individuals have free rights of expression which cannot be controlled said Pastars In 1930 Latvia passed a law regarding the coats of arms of the regions of Vidzeme Latgale Kurzeme and Zemgale which the Saiema confirmed again in 2012 The aim of the law was to establish the coats of arms as cultural historical symbols of Latvia protected by law But Umblija explains this law does not concern the coat of arms that is on the unofficial flag of Latgale The Heraldry Commission representative said that in the 16th and 17th centuries the coat of arms of the Duchy of Livonia which at that time covered Vidzeme and Latgale was a silver griffin on a red background And so initially at least Vidzeme and Latgale had a common symbol shown by Vidzeme s coat of arms a silver griffin on a red background however Latgale the land of blue lakes changed to a griffin in side profile on a blue background Both experts agree that the crown which the griffin is wearing shows that the flag is a symbol of the aristocracy and that such a symbol was unacceptable to the independent state of Latvia at the start of the twentieth century The coat of arms which they are using is the symbol of a family and the symbol of a family with aristocratic roots This has absolutely no connection with Latvia s cultural historical history asserts Umblija Unfortunately the Latgalians who are so extremely keen on identity are not interested in history The current unofficial Latgalian

    Original URL path: http://www.baltictimes.com/the_story_of_latgale_s_unofficial_flag/ (2016-02-13)
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