ESTONIAN SKIER SALUTED: The Estonian president, prime minister and Riigikogu speaker sent their congratulations to Estonian skier Kristina Shmigun for her second place at the women's world cup series on March 18. Shmigun was on the first position in the series until March 18's 10 km free style relay race in Santa Caterina, Italy, the last one of the season in the series, where she finished sixth after a fall during the race. Shmigun was the only one in women's skiing world cup series this year who collected points from all rounds.
JUST DON'T TAKE AWAY OUR MCDONALDS: Over than one half of Latvian residents - 51% - are concerned about the Americanization of Latvian culture, according to the SKDS data. In January of this year, 21.3% of respondents agreed with the statement "I am concerned about Americanization tendencies in Latvia", 29.7% tended to "agree rather than disagree, 26.4% - more "disagree than agree", 10.7% - "completely disagree", but 11.9% have no opinion in regard to this statement. Compared to 1999, 50.3% of respondents were concerned about the Americanization of the Latvian culture, 35.7% were not but 14% had no opinion. The problem of Americanization upsets women more than men - 58.2% of women and 43% of men are concerned.
DOWN IN THE DUMPS AGAIN: Lithuanian Competition Council started the third dumping investigation directed against import of quicklime from Russia and Belarus. The first dumping investigation was initiated against dumping of Latvian match imports and the second on imports of asbestos cement particleboard produced in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. A request to investigate quicklime dumping was submitted by the only producer of quicklime in Lithuania, Naujasis Kalcitas company. The company points out that quicklime produced in Belarus and Russia are imported at dumping prices and causing damage to the only Lithuanian producer. The competition council's spokesperson said quicklime imports from Belarus and Russia had significant share of domestic market and posted clear growth tendencies.
TO ISRAEL, WITHOUT VISAS: Estonia and Israel discussed the possibility of establishing visa-free relations on March 20 in Jerusalem where Foreign Ministry officials held regular political consultations. The idea of visa-free relations is still an idea and the time of signing the agreement is not known, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Vahur Soosaar. Estonian-Israeli political and economic relations and cultural exchange was discussed. Israel offered Estonia the opportunity of in-service programs on history to teachers. The delegations exchanged ideas on Estonia's European integration and NATO expansion.
KOSOVO-BOUND LITHUANIANS: Fifteen servicemen of Lithuanian separate jager battalion are leaving for the Kosovo province of Yugoslavia, torn by ethnic conflicts, on March 21 to replace half of the Lithuanian group on a peacekeeping mission. A relief for the other half of Lithuanian peace keepers is to be dispatched to the province within a week, the defense ministry reported. Thirty volunteers from Lithuanian jager battalion have been serving in Kosovo under the Polish battalion since last September.
SUICIDE EPIDEMIC IN LATVIA: Over the last ten years, more than 8,000 people have committed suicide in Latvia, according to State Psychiatric Center Director Solita Udrasa. According to Udrasa, 700-800 people commit suicide annually. The highest rate was in 1994 with more than 800 cases or 42 for every 1,000 resident. Last year, 752 suicide cases were registered, but 739 in 1998. For each suicide, there are two or three suicide attempts.