• 2000-06-29
The head of a foreign investment group has been fined for inviting a minister to a business function with an invite written in English, not Latvian. This man has a loud voice in focusing attention on attracting capital to the Baltic states.

Item two: A collection of IT professionals met to bemoan the fact that a majority of Latvia's IT students polled said they may leave for EU countries and better opportunities, like spending better wages.

What they missed as they talked about inadequate funding for instruction and equipment, as well as local wages, is the discussion was being conducted in Latvian - hardly the language of cybercommerce in EU.

Last week journalists looked at regulations under design to implement Latvia's language law. Three levels of competency have grown to six and cover jobs ranging from shoe-shiner to government public servant.

That's nothing, state language specialist Dzintra Hirsa said, "Estonia has nine categories."

So what? So the Estonians have refined make-work, exclusionary laws which infer lots of registration of names and addresses and stamping, stamping, stamping of documents?

The Baltics need to take steps to resucitate cultures smothered by occupation. Perhaps they would be up to "Nordic" accomplishments had the Soviet Union not interrupted their development and progress. But had the countries been left alone, who knows if the new economics would be discussed strictly in Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian in 2000? Is it possible that their zooming international trade in conditions fostered by uninterrupted democracy might have been conducted in German or English?

Effort expended to build fences around Latvia could be used to implement laws advancing democracy and commerce: freedom of information, accessible business and residency permits, bribe-free transactions.

The Baltic states have many holidays to either commemorate or recycle the past. Their lovely song, dance and other culture-based festivals draw international visitors from around the globe by choice. Midsummer holidays rival Christmas.

Following the fernflower during the rigorously celebrated Midsummer's Eve with a little help from a friend generates its own impetus and excitement without enforcement.

Perhaps dedicated pursuit of commerce and trade, ina third language, could also be allowed as "doing what comes naturally."