• 2002-09-26

Military reforms by the Baltic states are sufficient to earn them invitations to join NATO at an alliance summit in November, but more investment is needed in defense, Denmark's defense minister said during a visit to Riga.

"Latvia really is prepared for an invitation," Svend Aage Jensby told reporters, speaking less than two months before NATO's November summit in Prague.

But he stressed that as small countries the Baltics must continue to invest if they are to make a meaningful contribution to NATO.

Once considered long shots for NATO membership thanks to Russia's vehement opposition, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are now front-runners. All three expect invitations in Prague. (Agence France-Presse)


A Polish court ruled Sept. 18 that a Russian wanted by Estonia for murder and armed attack must serve an 18-month prison sentence here before being extradited, PAP news agency said.

Identified as Yuri Ou, 21, the man was sentenced by a court in the northeastern town of Suwalki for illegal possession of weapons and illegally crossing the Polish border. He also received a four-year suspended jail term.

After serving the sentence, he will be extradited to Estonia where he is on the wanted list for allegedly murdering a taxi driver in Tallinn and a saleswoman in the western town of Tartu. (AFP)


Lithuania's Parliament ratified a Council of Europe convention Sept. 19 banning the cloning of humans, the assembly's information service said.

The 1997 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being With Regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine and its 1998 additional protocol prohibiting the cloning of human beings were backed unanimously by Lithuanian lawmakers.

To date, 31 countries have ratified the convention, while the protocol has been ratified in 29 states. (AFP)


Medical workers and students in Latvia held a nationwide one-day strike Sept. 18 and marched through the streets of the capital to demand higher wages and more spending on health care.

Only emergency treatment was guaranteed across the country.

About 2,000 medical workers and students demonstrated outside the Cabinet of Ministers building in Riga in the third one-day strike this summer. (AFP)


Each member of the Estonian Parliament has received a package of literature from Turkey carrying the message that Islam and terrorism do not go hand in hand, the Eesti Paevalheht daily reported.

It said the literature had been timed to arrived on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

Each lawmaker in the 101-member Parliament had received an individually labeled parcel from an unknown address in Turkey.

Estonian MPs said they believed other legislatures in Europe may have received similar consignments.(AFP)


Three people have died and another was injured in an explosion at a spirits warehouse in Riga Sept. 20.

Two men died immediately when part of the Jaunpagasts Plus distillery went up in flames near the area where welders were working. A third died two days later in hospital, while a fourth worker remains hospitalized in what doctors say is a "very serious" condition.

Two firefighters were also hurt as they tried to extinguish the flames but their injuries were minor. (Baltic News Service)


Security police arrested a gang of four alleged drug dealers in Riga and seized some 17,000 lats worth (28,000 euros) of drugs.

The seizure included about a kilogram of methamphetamines, worth about 12 lats per gram, police said.

Three of the men were detained in an apartment in Riga while the latter was caught by police after the others were interrogated.

The four were only identified by their first names and are aged from 23 to 37, police said. (BNS)


A poll commissioned by the daily Eesti Paevaleht and carried out by ES Turu-uuringute in early September found that the Center Party led by Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar is still the most popular with voters ahead of the Oct. 20 local elections.

The Center Party had 20 percent support, according to the poll, followed by the center-right Reform Party, its coalition partner in the national government, with 15 percent.

Among ethnic Estonians, the two parties were supported by 18 percent and 17 percent respectively.

The Center Party enjoys 29 percent support among Russians, but the Reform Party just 5 percent. (BNS)