MORE THAN 112,000 NATURALIZED IN ESTONIA: Some 112,163 people have been naturalized in Estonia since the country's citizenship law took effect in 1992. The largest number of people were naturalized here in 1993-1996 (20,370 in 1993, 22,474 in 1994, 16,674 in 1995, and 22,773 in 1996) when citizenship was granted relatively easily, a representative from the Citizenship and Migration Department said. In 1995 a new citizenship law came into force which toughened the rules. For example, one can no longer apply for citizenship on the basis of certificates issued [to non-Estonian supporters of Estonia's independence] by the Estonian Citizens Committee, the representative said.
MORE THAN 50 SAY NO CHANGE: More than a half of the Latvian population, or 53.1 percent, believe the economic situation has not changed over a year, according to the public opinion poll conducted by SKDS polling company. At the same time, 13.3 percent said the economic situation had rather improved last year while twice as many respondents think that the situation has become worse. Only 0.5 percent see the economic situation as improved, and 3.5 percent believe that it has deteriorated significantly. Only 0.2 percent believe the economic situation will improve considerably in a year.
ASKING FOR FUNDS FOR BRIDGE: Lithuania and Poland will join efforts to find financing for their joint energy bridge project as decided in the Polish town of Wigry, where a Polish-Lithuanian cooperation commission and both countries' prime ministers met. According to the Lithuanian government's press service, it has been decided to send a joint communiqué to the European Union and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development seeking financing for the joining of the two countries' electric grids under the energy bridge project.
MORE WTO TALKS FOR LITHUANIA: Lithuania has moved closer to gaining entry into the World Trade Organization, having completed bilateral negotiations with the United States and reached an agreement on key farming issues in multilateral talks. "It was a successful round of negotiations in which we completed two-way talks with the top negotiating partner, the United States, and took a very important step in the multilateral talks," said Deputy Foreign Minister Algimantas Rimkunas.
NO PIRATE GOODS FROM ESTONIA: The Estonian association for the protection of intellectual rights has concluded an agreement with the customs authority whereby customs officers may start confiscating pirated goods on the border. Before customs can start seizing illegally manufactured products taken across the border, EAKO must obtain power to identify pirated goods in customs checkpoints from all major music and film companies, EAKO managing director Ilmar Harg told the business daily Aripaev. Harg said the organization further intends to place a large container in the Port of Tallinn where people can voluntarily deposit pirated goods obtained before crossing the border.
LATVIAN LANGUAGE LAW UPDATE: On Aug. 1, Dzintra Hirsa, the head of the state Language Center and author of the regulations, said the last version of the regulations was produced according to comments received from the ministries. On July 28 the improved regulations were sent to the Latvian OSCE office,in order to be translated and delivered to The Hague
PEDOPHILIA CASE CLOSED: The Prosecutor General's Office has closed the case against the former Latvian Justice Minister Valdis Birkavs over his possible link to a pedophilia case because of lack of a criminal action, spokeswoman Dzintra Subrovska said. Birkavs refused to comment on the decision of the Prosecutor General's Office as he had not studied it yet. He is presently outside of Latvia.