Economy & Politics: Why the poverty line determined by Latvian lawmakers is unconstitutional

Image: Economic well-being appears to be more important than social justice in Latvia. Modern office buildings in the Teika district in the Latvian capital Rīga. Recorded in May 2019. Double click on the image to enlarge.

Latvia is undoubtedly not a country for social romanticists. There is no special social assistance system for disability and the elderly. However, those who are not entitled to disability benefits and old-age pensions can, under certain circumstances, receive the basic social security benefit (Valsts sociālā nodrošinājuma pabalsts). A family or individual is only considered to be in need if the average monthly income of each family member in the past three months has been less than EUR 128.06. Social benefits are only given to those who do not have savings, possessions or other support lines. You also have to be registered as unemployed with the State Employment Agency. For people with an employment but a lower income than 64, – EURO per month, there are special regulations, such as housing subsidy or a subsidy for the purchase of food.

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Economy & Politics: What the results of the EU Corona Summit mean for Latvia financially

Image: The global economy is suffering from the corona crisis, including Latvia. Port facility in the Sarkandaugava district in Rīga. Picture taken 2014. Double click on the image to enlarge.

At a special summit on July 21, 2020, the representatives of the EU countries agreed on the largest financial package in their history in the fight against the corona economic crisis. The package comprises a total of 1.8 trillion euros – thereof 1074 billion euros for the next seven-year budget and 750 billion euros for an economic and investment program to counter the economic consequences of the pandemic crisis. For this, debts are being raised on a large scale for the 27 member states, then the money is redistributed and repaid together over decades.

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Economy & Politics: From now on visitors in Latvia have to fill out questionnaires

The easiest way to get from Germany to Latvia is to fly. High above the clouds over Latvia with LUFTHANSA. The Latvian government has decided that travelers crossing the border to Latvia with commercial carriers such as buses, trains and airlines will be required to complete a questionnaire from July 16, 2020. Photo © 2006 by Birk Karsten Ecke. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The Latvian government has decided that travelers crossing the Latvian border with commercial travel companies, such as buses, ferries, trains and airlines, will be required to complete a questionnaire from July 16, 2020. See https://www.mk.gov.lv/en/content/covid-19. According to the Cabinet of Ministers, the data will be used to fight against the corona pandemic. So far, the Baltic States have survived the corona epidemic with only a few sick, although the economic damage is enormous. Travelers from countries with more than 16 sufferers per 100,000 inhabitants are still not allowed to enter or have to go into quarantine for two weeks. This quarantine will be  controlled by the Latvian police.

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Economy & Politics: Holidays in Latvia are now at least theoretically possible again, at least for citizens of some European countries

Image: The ruins of the medieval Livonian knight's castle in Sigulda, Latvia. Photo © 2018 by Birk Karsten Ecke. Click on the image to enlarge it.

On June 2, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of the State of Latvia decided that from June 3, 2020 the list of countries from which immigrants do not have to comply with the 14-day self-isolation will be expanded. For Latvian citizens, permanent residents and foreigners who have not visited countries other than Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia in the past 14 days. The same applies to countries with a cumulative number of 15 people per 100,000 inhabitants with Covid-19 cases within the last 14 days. Self-isolation is still a must for those arriving from countries outside the Schengen area or associated countries. Latvia is therefore following Estonia’s approach to boost tourism and economy after the crisis.

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Economy & Politics: The consequences of the corona crisis for the Latvian economy and its employees

Image: The SWEDBANK tower at the left bank of the Daugava river in Rīga. Image created in December 2013. Click on the image to enlarge it.

In a virtual press conference on April 22, 2020, Kaspars Rozkalns, the head of the Latvian State Investment and Development Agency LIIA, made the statement that the corona crisis will reduce exports of the small European country by 20 to 30 percent compared to to last year. At the same conference, Latvian Minister of Economy Janis Vitenbergs predicted an overall economic recession of about 8 percent. Logically, the tourism sector and automotive suppliers are particularly affected by the global economic development.

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Neighborhoods of Rīga: Zolitūde

Image: The neighborhood of Zolitūde in Rīga. Multi-storey apartment buildings. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Zolitūde is a neighborhood of the Latvian capital Rīga, which is located several kilometers west of the left bank of the Daugava River, the so-called Pārdaugava. The neighborhood belongs to the suburb of Zemgale. In Zolitūde almost 20,000 people live in an area of less than 3 square kilometers. This district is mostly characterized by multi-storey apartment buildings from the 1980s shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Like all of these comparable neighborhoods in Rīga, Zolitūde was planned as a typical microrajon with schools, shops, bars and restaurants as well as administrative units. From a spatial and functional point of view, Zolitūde is generally a clearly identifiable neighborhood.

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Neighborhoods of Rīga: Skanste – The very modern heart of the capital of Latvia

Image: The Neighborhood of Skanste in Rīga. The modern multi-multi-storey apartment houses. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Skanste is a neighborhood in Rīga, it is located in the center of Riga, but administratively belongs to the Vidzeme suburb. It is the most modern part of the Latvian capital and is characterized by multi-storey apartment buildings. The landmark of this neighborhood are the Skanstes virsotnes – the needles of Skanste. Today there are around 12,000 people living in this area, but once it is completed there will be around 42,000. When the goals of the city planners come true, Skanste will become the economic heartbeat of Rīga and all of Latvia. The conditions are certainly not bad due to the proximity to the center and the available space.

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Neighborhoods of Rīga: Ziepniekkalns

Image: The neighborhood of Ziepnikkalns. Multi-storey residential house. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Ziepniekkalns is a neighborhood of the city of Riga in the Zemgale district. The neighborhood is located a few kilometers west of the left bank of the Daugava River, the so called Pārdaugavā. In large parts, Ziepnikkalns is a district that was planned and built in the 1970s and 1980s. Older parts goes back to the 18th century and it was called in German language Seifenberg. The center of Ziepniekkalns is the Ēbelmuiža Park, in the eastern part of which is the thickest oak in Pārdaugava. The modern Ziepnikkalns was built as a typical microrajon with multi-storey apartment houses, shops, schools and all things of daily use. But Ziepnikkalns also consists of detached houses.

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Economy & Politics: Rail Baltica – Detail design work for Rail Baltica in Latvia is now starting

Bild: Hauptbahnhof in Rīga. Der Bahnhof wird im Zuge des Baues der Rail Baltica komplett umgestaltet. Aufnahme vom Dezember 2013. Klicken Sie auf das Bild um es zu vergrößern.

RB Rail which is responsible for the project management of the new train network Rail Baltica has signed two contracts covering the detail design phase as well as the monitoring phase. The Rail Baltica is the largest infrastructure project of the three Baltic States Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The high speed train network will connect Tallin (Estonia) and Warsaw (Poland) via Rīga (Latvia) and Kaunas (Lithuania). The project delay has been around 3 years so far. One contract covers the route between Valka on the Latvian-Estonian border to Vangaži and the other from Misa to the Latvian-Lithuanian border south of Bauska.

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Neighbourhoods of Rīga: Sarkandaugava – A bloody battle, water submerged witches and a couple of historical industrial plants

Bild: Poliklinik im Stadtteil Sarkandaugava in Rīga. OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1 Mark II und M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12 - 40 mm 1:2.8 PRO. ISO 250 ¦ f/7.1 ¦ 12 mm ¦ 1/320 s ¦ kein Blitz. Klicken Sie auf das Bild um es zu vergrößern.

Sarkandaugava is a neighborhood of Rīga in the Northern District. Nearly 18.000 people live here at at a total area of ​​of about 7,596 square kilometres which is approximately 2.300 people per square kilometer. Within its current boundaries, Sarkandaugava is difficult to identify as a spatially cohesive and functionally connected territory of the city of Riga, as the neighborhood is very complex and its parts are primarily oriented to the Freeport of Riga or other industrial activities not directly related to the neighborhood. Sarkandaugava’s name derives from Red Daugava which in German language means Rote Düna. The intersection of Sarkandaugavas iela and Tilta iela is considered to be the center of Sarkandaugava.

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Reisen & Tourismus: Der lettische Carrier airBaltic stellt wegen Coronavirus und COVID-19 vorübergehend alle internationalen Flugverbindungen ein

Bild: Die Airline airBaltic stellt ab dem 17.03.2020 alle internationalen Flüge ein. Moderne Bombardier C-Series bzw. Airbus A220 Maschine der airBaltic. Aufnahme vom Oktober 2017. Klicken Sie auf das Bild um es zu vergrößern.

airBaltic mit Sitz in der lettischen Hauptstadt Rīga ist die größte Airline der drei baltischen Staaten Estland, Lettland und Litauen. Sie ist ein bedeutender Carrier für Flugreisende aus Ost-, Mittel- und Nordeuropa in die baltischen Staaten. airBaltic betreibt eine Flotte von 38 Flugzeugen und befördert jährlich mehr als 3.5 Millionen Fluggäste. Die Airline ist durch das Coronavirus in starkem Maße betroffen. Die Regierung der Republik Lettland hat beschlossen, die Sicherheitsmaßnahmen zu verschärfen und den internationalen Flugverkehr ab dem 17. März einzustellen, um die Verbreitung von Coronavirus zu begrenzen. Alle Verbindungen von airBaltic werden vorübergehend vom 17. März bis einschließlich 14. April 2020 unterbrochen, einschließlich der Verbindungen von airBaltic von Estland und Litauen.

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Travel & Tourism: Travel restrictions due to coronavirus COVID-19 of the Baltic States – Estonia / Latvia / Lithuania

Image: A little nostalgic feeling of the Eastern Bloc. Advertising in Tallinn. Photo from August 2012. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The COVID-19 coronavirus now also significantly limits travel within the Schengen zone. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also largely closed off their borders. As a business traveler or tourist there is currently hardly any way to enter these countries. The information relates to the status of Sunday, March 15th, 2020 – Source: Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany. and the websites of the governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The latest information is always at the top under the respective country.

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Reisen & Tourismus: Reisebeschränkungen wegen Coronavirus COVID-19 der baltischen Staaten – Estland / Lettland / Litauen

Bild: Ein wenig Ostalgie. Werbung in Tallinn. Aufnahme vom August 2012. Klicken Sie auf das Bild, um es zu vergrößern.

Das Coronavirus COVID-19 schränkt mittlerweile auch das Reisen innerhalb der Schengenzone deutlich ein. Auch die baltischen Staaten Estland, Lettland und Litauen haben ihre Grenzen weitgehend abgeschottet. Als Geschäftsreisender oder Tourist gibt es im Moment kaum noch eine Möglichkeit in diese Länder einzureisen. Die Informationen beziehen sich auf den Stand von Sonntag, 15.03.2020 – Quelle: Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. sowie die Internetseiten der Regierungen Estlands, Lettlands und Litauen. Die neueste Informationen stehen immer oben unter dem jeweiligen Land.

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Reisen & Tourismus: Vorerst müssen Reisende aus Deutschland nach der Einreise in Lettland und Litauen in Quarantäne

Bild: Litauisches Dorf an der Grenze zu Polen bei Marijampolė. Aufnahme vom August 2011.

Wer wirklich geglaubt hat, dass das Coronavirus COVID-19 an Deutschland vorbeigeht, hat sich gründlich geirrt. Die Anzahl der infizierten Personen beträgt Stand Freitag, 14.03.2020, deutlich über 3.600. Keines der 16 Bundesländer ist von Infizierten verschont geblieben. Unsere Nachbarstaaten haben mittlerweile Einreisebeschränkungen oder Einreiseverbote und Quarantänemaßnahmen erlassen. Das betrifft seit Freitag, 13.03.2020, auch die baltischen Staaten Estland, Lettland und Litauen (Quelle: Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).

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