RIGA - The Latvian government said on Jan. 26 that it was not interested in delaying the next round of settlement talks with TeliaSonera, just days after the Scandinavian telecommunications giant said it was prepared to settle the outstanding arbitration disputes with the government.
Viesturs Sutko, an aide to Prime Minister Einars Repse, who sent TeliaSonera a compromise proposal in December, said that the government could agree on a specific meeting date within the next two or three weeks. In his letter Repse proposed both sides drop their arbitration claims over Lattelekom in favor of a comprehensive solution that would likely include the sale or the state's 51 percent stake in the telecommunication company.
Kjell Lindstrom, spokesman for TeliaSonera's Baltic and Nordic regional division, told Dienas Bizness that the company responded to the prime minister's letter by expressing a desire to solve not only the arbitration dispute through settlement but address other issues as well.
He added that eventually the two sides would be able to discuss TeliaSonera's offer to buy more shares of Lattelekom and LMT (Latvian Mobile Telephone). The Scandinavian company wants to increase its holdings in these two companies and in 2003 had offered to buy 100 percent of Lattelekom and LMT.
TeleiaSonera's subsidiary Tilts Communications, which holds the 49 percent stake in Lattelekom, took the government to the Stockholm Court of Arbitration for cutting short Lattelekom's monopoly by 10 years to 2003 without compensation. Latvia responded by filing a counterclaim against the consortium for failing to carry out all its obligations, including investments in Lattelekom.
Tilts Communications de-manded 80 million lats (119 million euros) in compensation, while the government's counterclaim topped 600 million lats.