OSCE COMMISSIONER APPROVES: Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe high commissioner on national minorities, Max van der Stoel, has no material objections to the language regulations adopted by the Latvian government. "I view the regulations implementing the State Language Law as being essentially in conformity with both the law and Latvia's international obligations, "Stoel said. The OSCE commissioner did have some minor comments and called on the Latvian government to make "small amendments," for example, as regards provision of interpretation during public events, considering Latvia's anticipated ratification of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
GIVES ICELAND THUMBS UP: Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus met his Icelandic counterpart, Olafur Ragnar Grimson, in Reykjavik on Sept. 3 and expressed satisfaction with political and cultural relations between Lithuania and Iceland. Adamkus also voiced a hope that the visit in Iceland will provide an opportunity for the accompanying delegation of Lithuanian businessmen to also advance economic cooperation, said the presidential press service. Iceland's president, Grimson, said that Lithuania in many respects was a crossroad where northern European culture met southern European heritage.
PRODI WANTS ENLARGEMENT: European Commission President Romano Prodi urged the European Union Sept. 1 to speed up expansion talks with eastern and central Europe, saying the matter was of the highest importance. "We need to make a jump on the enlargement process," said Prodi, acknowledging ex-communist countries' frustration at perceived signs of a slowdown in EU expansion plans, which have seen forecast entry dates slip from 2003 to 2005. "We are at a very delicate moment, in which the applying countries are losing faith and losing confidence and we have to demonstrate to them that we are serious," Prodi said.
REFERENDUM ON EU GROWTH: Lithuania's top EU-negotiator Vygaudas Usackas has expressed astonishment at the proposal of the European Union's Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen to hold a referendum in Germany about the admission of new members to the organization. Asked to comment on the initiative of the commissioner, Usackas voiced a hope that the proposal is not an official stance of EU or its member states. At the same time, one can say that EU countries and most of all Germany, which used to be the organization's enlargement propeller, have been displaying less political enthusiasm on EU expansion lately, Usackas said.
SUSPENDED SENTENCE FOR HOOLIGAN: A member of the extremist National Bolshevik organization, which is not officially registered in Latvia, Sept. 1 received a suspended two-year sentence for painting a slogan on a wall, calling to beat up the former Prime Minister Andris Skele. Aio was indignant and said after the court session that the sentence was very harsh and proved violations of human rights in Latvia where power belonged to fascists. "I hate Latvia. I declare war on Latvia. Come on, Latvia, let's fight," Aio shouted, when speaking to reporters.
SLAMMING DECISION: Estonian parliament Chairman Toomas Savi, who abstained from a vote on the dismissal of army chief Lt. Gen. Johannes Kert in August, has later criticized deputies' decision to fire the army chief. While on a working trip to the United States, Savi said that by complying with President Lennart Meri's wishes and sacking the army leader the parliament missed an opportunity to show citizens of its country that the law is one for all, the daily Postimees writes.
PM INSTEAD OF PRESIDENT: Instead of President Lennart Meri, who is busy organizing state defense, Prime Minister Mart Laar will represent Estonia at the United Nations Millennium Summit. President Meri will have important meetings on issues of state defense, a spokesperson of the president's office said. The decision to have Prime Minister Laar representing Estonia at the UN summit was born on Aug. 31, the spokesperson said.