The European Commission, recognizing Latvia’s accomplishments in ensuring control over European Union fund payments, has decided to lift temporary restrictions on funding from the Cohesion and European Regional Development funds, reports LETA. The final decision on the European Social Fund has not been made yet. “Even though payments to project developers were never suspended, since they were covered from the state budget, I am pleased that EU fund payments to Latvia have been restored. Latvia and the EU are interested in reasonably invested and properly controlled EU funds, the main source of investment in Latvia’s infrastructure,” points out European Commission Representation in Latvia head Inna Steinbuka. At the end of January, the European Commission suspended EU fund payments to Latvia, claiming that the Finance Ministry, which deals with the allocation of the funds, lacks a mechanism for influencing decisions made by ministries and government agencies in the distribution of the EU funding.
Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center) is off on a week-long visit to China, where he will meet with Riga sister city Suzhou’s mayor, address an international forum in Beijing, and meet with representatives from various organizations, said the Riga City Council, reports LETA. During the visit, Usakovs will also meet with Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong. Usakovs will visit the Open University of China and discuss the opening of a Riga culture center at the university during a meeting with the university’s administration. The presentation of Riga as the cultural capital of Europe in 2014 will also take place at the university. At a meeting with World Tourist Cities Federation officials, Usakovs will talk about opportunities for closer cooperation, and present the Riga Tourism Development Bureau. Also in Beijing, Usakovs will participate in and address an international forum on sustainable urban development, which will also be attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao and other officials. Usakovs and Jinlong will jointly open an art festival of cities, Latvian choir ‘Ave Sol’ will perform during the opening ceremony. Usakovs’ visit to China will continue until July 2. Suzhou has been a sister city of Riga since Sept. 22, 1997.
Russian residents believe that Latvia is Russia’s third most unfriendly country after Georgia and the United States, according to a survey carried out by the analytical center Levada, reports Regnum. Forty-one percent of respondents said that Georgia is unfriendly and hostile toward Russia, 33 percent mention the U.S. Russian residents believe that all three Baltic States are unfriendly and hostile toward their country: Latvia - 26 percent; Lithuania - 25 percent; Estonia - 23 percent. Meanwhile, 34 percent mention Belarus as the closest and most friendly country to Russia; 28 percent mention Kazakhstan; 17 percent – Germany; 16 percent – China; 13 percent - Ukraine. 1,600 people from 45 Russian regions took part in the survey.