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By Mike Collier of bne in Riga

With the Russian military heading westwards in a move similar to the ”invited annexation” that saw Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lose their independence in 1940, it’s hardly surprising the Baltic states are watching events in Ukraine’s Crimea warily. Upcoming elections and a controversial parade to honour soldiers who fought alongside the Nazis will create plenty of flashpoints in these countries with large ethnic Russian minorities. Continue reading »

Gateway to Europe no more?

What do you do if you have a Russian passport, available funds, and want to get long-term travel documents for the Schengen area (the 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders)? For many, over the last three years, the answer has been simple: head to Latvia and make use of its programme of residence permits for foreign investors.

But not for long, perhaps. Immigration legislation is on the agenda, and is the subject of a big poitical debate. Continue reading »

A mixed picture for the prospects of an economic recovery emerging Europe, according to Monday’s forecast from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

The EBRD found that the more advanced countries of central Europe will probably do a bit better than expected next year, while the rest of the post-communist region is sputtering. Continue reading »

Latvia is a small country perched on the northern fringe of the European Union but its remarkable experience during the economic crisis has made it a favourite talking point among economists. Continue reading »

By Erik Berglof of the EBRD

Latvia has just been given the green light by the European Commission to enter the eurozone. What Latvia has achieved in the period since it was rescued by the international community in 2009 is nothing short of remarkable. This achievement is now used as an example for the countries in southern Europe of how to restore growth and competitiveness. Continue reading »

Time to loosen those belts, as the European Commission let a host of CEE countries out from under its excessive deficit procedures – evidence that Brussels is keen on boosting growth.

Hungary, Romania and Latvia were allowed to exit the EU’s excessive deficit procedure, which they had been put into for running deficits above the permitted threshold of 3 per cent of GDP. More mixed news from Poland, which gained an extra two years to bring its deficit into line with requirements. Continue reading »

Latvia hopes to become the 18th EU member state to join the eurozone. Estonia became the 17th in 2011. The FT’s Nordic and Baltic correspondent Richard Milne spoke to the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, about his country’s experience in the eurozone and his advice to Latvia.

By Otilia Simkova of Eurasia Group

In the midst of the mayhem over Cyprus, some observers of Europe’s banking crisis noticed another small country – Latvia.

The Baltic country made headlines when it applied to join the eurozone by January 2014, pushing ahead despite doubts about the benefits of accession. Now it risks making news again for another reason: non-resident deposits. Foreign money, especially from Russia, has been trickling in. Continue reading »

Premier Dombrovskis

A vote of confidence in the euro: Latvia on Monday formally decided to join the troubled common currency, with the prime minister, finance minister and central bank governor jointly signing the application.

It might not make headlines in the ECB’s headquarters in Frankfurt. But for Riga this is big news – its most important economic decision since it joined the European Union in 2004. Continue reading »

Economic growth of 3 per cent in the eurozone? It sounds like a statistical error at a time when the common currency area is braced for a 0.4 per cent drop. But Estonia is set to record a 3 per cent expansion in 2012, nearly double the government’s forecast at the start of the year. And officials expect another 3 per cent in 2013.

Much of this is a rebound from the extra-severe shock that passed through Estonia and the other two Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania in 2009 when Estonian GDP dropped by a cumulative 18 per cent. Continue reading »

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics on June 28 (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/GettyImages)

Hillary Clinton and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics

Visiting Latvia on Thursday, Hillary Clinton praised the Baltic state for taking “very difficult” austerity measures that would ensure a “stable, prosperous future”.

But is the Baltic austerity model everything it’s cracked up to be? In this post on The World blog, Neil Buckley examines the case. Continue reading »

There is life after austerity. Latvia on Thursday reported 6.8 per cent GDP growth in the first quarter of 2012, the fastest rate in the EU.

The small Baltic state suffered the worst recession in Europe, when GDP collapsed by by nearly 25 per cent in 2009-10. But a tough austerity programme has helped stabilise the economy, pave the way to recovery and put Latvia in a position to possibly join the euro. A lesson for Greece if ever there was one. Continue reading »

The Latvian government is hell-bent on joining the eurozone by January 2014 even though the move is unpopular among its people. Well, the government will be cheered and the people perhaps dismayed after Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, promoted the country to investment grade on Wednesday and applauded the government’s progress. Continue reading »

By Sergei Kuznetsov of business new europe

Sberbank, the Russian banking giant, is preparing to expand into the Baltic states, bne can reveal. In the first step, BPS-Sberbank, its Belarus operation, will open a subsidiary in Latvia. Continue reading »

The mood turned sour again on European markets on Monday, as fresh worries about Greece rattled investors’ nerves. But that didn’t stop Lithuania getting a one-year bond auction away at a pretty impressive yield, on the day the country said its economy grew by a healthy 4.3 per cent last year.

Nevertheless, a glance behind the headline figures suggests that even where things look cheerful, investors should be cautious. Continue reading »