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Request for members of the US Congress to support House Baltic Caucus   Posted 3.27.17

The Consulate is reaching out with this letter to all members of the House of Representatives in NY who are not yet members of the House Baltic Caucus. The House Baltic Caucus was extablished 20 years ago and comprises members of both partieswho have an interest in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

 

***

March 27, 2017

 

The Honorable Rep ....

United States House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Rep. [Name…]:

 

As  your  constituent, Honorary Consul of Latvia in New York, and  a  member  of  the  Baltic-American  community,  I  would like to encourage you to join  the House  Baltic  Caucus  in  order  to  effectively  represent  the  voices  of  Baltic-Americans  in Congress.  Baltic-American  constituents  in  your  district  remain  active  in  promoting  democratic principles  and  human  rights  and  strongly  support  U.S. policies that  bolster  mutual cooperation and defense  of  the Baltic countries.

 

This year, The Baltic Caucus celebrates its 20th Anniversary. Established in 1997, the Baltic Caucus is comprised of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who share a common interest in the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

 

Since the restoration of their independence from the USSR over 25 years ago, the Baltic states have been steadfast allies and strong supporters of the United States. The Baltic states worked very hard to achieve NATO membership and are strong adherent of the principles brought forth by this alliance. These three countries demonstrate to the world how countries can emerge from the iron curtain and become a thriving democracies and vibrant economies.

 

Full diplomatic ties have been resumed 25 years ago although relations between the three Baltic states and the US is much longer, enjoyed by uninterrupted friendship for almost a century. During the dark years of the Soviet occupation, which the US did not recognize, the Baltic flags waved proudly in the US capital as a permanent reminder of both US commitment and support for the independence and freedom of the people of the Baltic Countries or Captive Nations.

 

We are grateful for the continued US commitment to the security of the Baltic Countries and the support they receive through US military footprint in the region. Through years of regular joint allied training and shoulder-to-shoulder fights in the fiercest battles of Afghanistan and Iraq - militaries have developed an ironclad bond. Having this bond, being Allies is a privilege, but also a responsibility. They will continue their contributions to international security and investing in their defense capabilities: Estonia is already spending 2 % of GDP, while both Latvia and Lithuania will reach their defense spending at 2 % level by 2018. The NATO Alliance is strong when Allies on both sides of the Atlantic invest in collective defense and share their burden fairly.

 

Threats around us have become more complex and harder to identify, quantify and pinpoint. Russia’s actions vis-á-vis its neighbors show a disturbing and worrisome trend that we have to reckon with.

 

As it is evident from the new Russian National Security Strategy, Russia has defined NATO as its adversary and threat to its national interest. The Strategy also reflects the sentiment and desire for a world order with spheres of influence. This vision is outdated and unrealistic; the sovereign nations Russia wishes to subject to such division have their own vision and an active say in their development and choice with whom to ally themselves. This sovereign right may not be challenged.

 

What happened in Ukraine, and Russia’s steady and systematic military build-up as well as the intensive military maneuvers in the proximity of NATO’s borders have caused a significant deterioration in European strategic security environment and are challenging the European and international security order.

 

Thanks to historical decisions of the NATO Warsaw Summit on the deployment of four multinational battle groups to the Alliance’s Eastern flank, including a Canadian-led Enhanced Forward Presence battle group in Latvia, they feel more secure and reassured. This is a very practical expression of solidarity from allies and a strong deterrent signal to Russia. Security in the Baltic region is greatly strengthened thanks to the Congress support for the U.S. European Reassurance Initiative and European Deterrence Initiative, the Atlantic Resolve mission and the Foreign Military Financing for which they are grateful. Taking into account that challenges to the Baltic region are of a long term nature, the Baltic allies are looking forward to the continuation of the European Deterrence Initiative at the funding level of $3.4 billion or higher. Likewise they have expressed their hope that the Foreign Military Financing funding will be maintained or enhanced. These policies have strengthened their regional security and made a positive impact on addressing immediate shortfalls in their national capabilities.

 

Next year Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will mark the centennial of their declarations of independence. As we pass this milestone we will have a good reason to celebrate what has been has achieved so far. I would highly appreciate if you would consider joining the House Baltic Caucus so that we together could support our Baltic allies and strengthen our mutually beneficial relations. The 700,000 or so Americans with Baltic heritage will also be grateful to you for this.

 

For more information please see the House Baltic Caucus website: http://housebalticcaucus.webs.com or contact the Rep. Shimkus office (Flavio Cardon at flavio.a.cardon@mail.house.gov Direct line: 6-8452) or the Rep. Schiff office (Kerry McBride at kerry.mcbride@mail.house.gov Office Line: 5-4176).

 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely,

 

Daris G. Delins

Honorary Consul for Latvia in New York

daris.delins@latvia-newyork.org

+1-646-230-0590

***




Latvia is an attractive place for foreign investment says John Kerry, former US Secretary of State - March 21, 2017   Posted 3.22.17

Latvia is an attractive place to invest money and has great potential for foreign investment, in an interview to Latvian news agency LETA said former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrived in Riga this week to learn more about the situation in Latvia and to consider opportunities to invest there.


Kerry, who is considering opportunities to engage in business and to become an investor arrived in Riga because he views this part of the world having huge potential, which to date has been only partially realized. “It is growing faster than the rest of Europe," said the former U.S. diplomat, expressing the view that people are looking at places like Latvia, where the government is forward-looking, has a good political structure and labor market, and good opportunities for trade in the European Union and beyond. "Your export performance is growing, manufacturing output is rising. If I'm not mistaken, industrial production is up by 5.5%/yr, the growth in GDP is faster than the rest of Europe. Consequently, this looks like a place where something is happening and the possibilities are real”, explained the former U.S. Secretary of State.

Kerry believes that Latvia has a number of advantages compared with other countries. "You have a strong education system. You have a labor force that is prepared and willing to work. You are a European Union (EU) member state, which is important given the rules and standards in reliability and transparency which that entails. And you have the will and determination to succeed. These are essential prerequisites for a viable market economy " said the former US Secretary of State.

He also recalls the history of Latvia. "It is part of the Hanseatic League tradition, having been its capital city. Latvia has already given the world an example in the choices that were made in 1991 and remains firmly committed to our shared values. People have a need to learn more about Latvia as well as Lithuania and Estonia. For you have defended your ground against the threat of a dark shadow, something not everyone really around the world appreciates. In my opinion, you have strength of character, something you can be proud of, "said Kerry.

Kerry observes that around the world a lot of money is lying idle, is not being used or is even losing value. As a result, people are currently re-thinking their investment approach and concluding that waiting is not the best approach. "Instead, if invested it, could get higher returns - perhaps is not as exciting as say Snapchat - but in something that real and productive," concludes former US politician.

He agrees that the United States investors' interest in the Baltic region has increased. This is also underpinned by the US and NATO provided security guarantees. "I think we can speak of changes in the security environment. One has to note here the decision made two years ago by President Barack Obama to boost US support for European security, quadrupling support for front-line countries to 3.4 billion dollars. We started the security enhancment with cooperation with Poland, then Canada with Latvia, then Germany and the United Kingdom with the other Baltic countries. This, together with support from Democrats and Republicans, the President [Donald] Trump and President Obama's support, in my opinion, results in a more unified NATO commitment. The US Defense Secretary James Matiss and others have clearly talked about supporting Article 5 (of the NATO Treaty). In my view, this helps to calm things down a little and gives people a sense of security, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve, "says Kerry.

The former Secretary of State also recognizes the linkage between investment and the challenges of the current geopolitical environment because today economic policy and foreign policy are intrinsically connected - investment strengthens a country and the current geo-political situation promotes more focus on security. Leading the US State Department, he tried to encourage other countries to prosper. "I emphasized the importance of foreign policy to economic policy. Conversely, because nowadays they are inseparable. If you look at the" Arab spring", what’s transpired in Ukraine, people everywhere want accountability, transparency, economic opportunities and people do not want to corrupt companies to steal their the future, "said Kerry.

Kerry did not disclose any planned investments in Latvia, but during his visit to Riga, he wants to learn more as to whether "Latvia together with their neighbors can become stronger, increase prosperity, which is one of the main pillars in the fight against evil and instability." "I am here to get a view from the inside of what the situation is today, what are the needs and expectations are for the future," said Kerry.

As reported, Kerry on Monday arrived in Latvian for a two-day visit. The purpose of the visit is to gain a better understanding of the economic environment and business sentiment in Latvia, as well as to emphasize the importance of American investment in the region.

Kerry during his visit will meet with Latvian businessmen, foreign investment organizations and government officials, including Prime Minister Maris Kučinskis, the Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozols, representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia (AMCHAM), Foreign Investors Council in Latvian and Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA).

 

The visit and meetings were coordinated by Citadele, a leading Latvian bank now owned by a group of U.S. investors, headed by Ripplewood Holdings.

 

Source: LETA, March 21, 2017 and www.diena.lv

 




Pension eligibility for Latvian nationals in the USA - FAQ   Posted 1.31.17

Who is eligible for pension from the Republic of Latvia?

 

Persons who have reached 62 years and 9 month of age as of January 1, 2016 and have no less than 15 years period of social payments are eligible for a Latvian state pension.

 

According to the current Latvian legislation, a pension is granted for those Latvian nationals who left Latvia as pensioners before October 1st, 2013. An eligible person who is living in US and receiving a Latvian pension will have to submit to the Social Security Insurance Agency department (each year during the period 1st of October – 15th of December) a written claim for continued payment of a pension, sending it by mail or submitting it by the mediation of an authorized person. A notarial certification (prepared no later than one month before submitting the claimwhich testifies that the recipient of the pension is alive) has to be attached to the claim.

 

Pensions can be received at the place of residence or in the bank account or at postal office only in the Republic of Latvia. (i.e. the U.S. based Latvian national receiving the pension would then have to remit such monies to a bank account here in the U.S.).

 

Last year the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs proposed possible amendments to the current pension regulations for those Latvian nationals who left Latvia whilst at the time not being pensioners. Unfortunately to date there have not been any concrete new developments in this matter.

 

If you have questions regarding pensions and your eligibility to receive one whilst living here in the U.S. , please contact the Social Security Insurance Agency of the Republic of Latvia (VSAA) by phone or e-mail:

 

VSAA, Rīgas pilsētas Zemgales reģionālā nodaļa, Mārupes 1, Rīga, LV-1002,

 

Phone number: +371-67600653  

E-mail: vsaa@vsaa.lv

Homepage: www.vsaa.lv

 

 

The Consulate of Latvia in New York or the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C. unfortunately cannot assist you with any pension application. You must do this directly with VSAA in Riga.




Gidon Kremer: A Violinist on a Mission, or Several of Them - NY Times - Jan 22, 2017   Posted 1.23.17

By JAMES R. OESTREICH- JAN. 20, 2017

 

Gidon Kremer, the Russian-trained Latvian violin virtuoso who turns 70 next month, has never shied away from connecting his art and his politics.

 

On a North American tour that has just begun with concerto performances in Boston and arrives at the 92nd Street Y with a concert on Feb. 2 by Mr. Kremer’s chamber orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, he is forwarding a social agenda, if not a political one. The second half of the chamber program is called “Russia: Masks & Faces,” and its centerpiece is Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in a new orchestration, with projected images of paintings.

 

Ho-hum, right?

 

But the paintings are not those of Viktor Hartmann that inspired Mussorgsky’s work. They are, Mr. Kremer said, “pictures from another exhibition,” painted by Maxim Kantor, a Russian artist and social commentator.

 

“It’s a statement for our time,” Mr. Kremer said. “It’s a joint statement of two artists who speak about the same subject: political oppression, people in power and people in trouble.”

 

Mr. Kremer, interviewed at his hotel, near Lincoln Center, spoke with a quiet intimacy that belied his passion and contrasted markedly with the command he shows in stage performance.

 

“I can’t say anything about American artists these days, but I feel solidarity with Meryl Streep,” he said of her recent Golden Globes speech. “I adored her passionate and sympathetic speech from the very first word till the very last one. The whole election campaign was full of so many lies familiar to me from Russia, but it was very surprising for me that, on the other end of the world, so many people would feel like they want these lies to prevail.”

 

Mr. Kremer has always seemed a man on a mission, or several of them. In addition to a newly relevant “Pictures at an Exhibition,” he has in recent years focused on Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a little-known Polish composer who died in 1996 and was, as Mr. Kremer continues to show, perhaps as prolific as Shostakovich and hardly less gifted. Weinberg is the latest in a series of more or less hidden 20th-century masters, many still active and some female, whose music Mr. Kremer has discovered and championed.

 

“Weinberg is such an incredible example of a personality that’s kind of neglected,” he said. “Neglected by me, too. I must say that it was a big fault of mine that I didn’t discover him earlier. But you see, occasionally it takes time, like a good wine.”

 

To open his tour, he is playing Weinberg’s Violin Concerto of 1959, a traditionally cast, melodious work beloved by Shostakovich, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. Then he travels throughout the United States and Canada with Kremerata Baltica, playing the “Pictures” program, which also includes Weinberg’s elegiac Chamber Symphony No. 4 (1992), the last work the composer completed.

 

In the meantime, ECM New Series is to release Kremerata recordings of all four Weinberg chamber symphonies, along with an orchestration of the Piano Quintet. (Deutsche Grammophon, which recently released a 22-CD set of Mr. Kremer’s concerto recordings for the label, will soon add a disc of the two Rachmaninoff piano trios performed by Mr. Kremer, the pianist Daniil Trifonov and the cellist Giedre Dirvanauskaite.)

 

Another of Mr. Kremer’s missions of the moment is the Kremerata itself, a crack group of youngish musicians from the Baltic States. It was founded by Mr. Kremer in 1997, to celebrate his 50th birthday, and is thus celebrating an anniversary of its own. Typically led from the violin by Mr. Kremer, it also performs conducted by others (the fast-rising Lithuanian maestra Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, for example, in the Fourth Chamber Symphony on ECM) or unconducted, as in this New York visit.

 

“It’s a kind of family,” Mr. Kremer said. “I’m very happy that for 20 years I maintained the same spirit — youthful, adventurous, lack of routine — and that keeps me as well wanting to go on as long as I can with the group. But I am also trying to build a bridge for them to have a future. They can be independent.”

 

The allusive, somewhat inscrutable “Pictures at an Exhibition” project is a kind of activity he continues to explore with the Kremerata. There is, for example, the “SnowShow Symphony,” a collaboration with the circus artist Slava Polunin, known internationally for “Slava’s SnowShow.” That production, Mr. Kremer said, is not political but “a very poetic exercise.” (Be that as it may, the image of the normally poker-faced Mr. Kremer performing with a red clown nose is priceless.)

 

There is also “Images of the East,” a “statement about refugees, about peace and love,” in Mr. Kremer’s words, made in collaboration with Nizar Ali Badr, a Syrian sculptor who tells stories with pebble arrangements. An animated film is in the works.

 

“I sympathize with all the suffering in the Middle East,” Mr. Kremer said, “and I want the world to be better. I know that what I can do with my violin or with my music is just a drop in the ocean, but I would feel ashamed not to deliver this drop if I can do it.”

 

Mr. Kremer was born in Riga in 1947, with roots that go “deep in many directions,” he said: “Swedish, German, Jewish, Baltic, whatever.” He studied with the great violinist David Oistrakh and others in Moscow and took prizes in major competitions, including the prestigious Tchaikovsky, in Moscow in 1970. But for whatever reason (he professes not to know to this day), the Soviets blocked much of his international travel, especially to the West.

 

In 1975, his world turned on its axis. He quickly developed a reputation worldwide for his brilliant technique and the sheer intensity of his playing, but he also showed an underlying exploratory brashness. He made a calling card of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, playing it with startling new cadenzas by Alfred Schnittke. His solo career skyrocketed, creating a demand that remains strong.

 

But there were also other dimensions to his personality, a thoughtfulness and reserve little touched by the flash and dazzle of celebrity. He disappeared on long sabbaticals, traveling to the North Pole and elsewhere.

 

He has always been able to play the war-horse concertos and sonatas with the best of them, but that has never been enough. He set out in search of little-known music, the new — the likes of Schnittke, Arvo Pärt, Sofia Gubaidulina and Philip Glass — and the old. He once said that his favorite composer was Schumann, an unexpected choice for a violinist; now he says Schubert, equally surprising. (Bach, whose solo sonatas and partitas Mr. Kremer has recorded three times, is simply “from a different planet.”) Such loves may explain his longstanding involvement in chamber music. He helped found the purposefully secluded Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival in Austria in 1981 and was its artistic director for three decades.

 

“I don’t miss it,” he said. “I lived through 30 years of happy Lockenhaus, but at a certain moment I had to say, ‘That’s it,’ because I didn’t want to repeat formulas that I used and that were successful.” By 2011, of course, Mr. Kremer was thoroughly immersed in the Kremerata. (Lockenhaus’s current artistic director is the German-French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt.)

 

“I really feel like I lived many lives and accomplished more than I could dream about,” Mr. Kremer said. “I’m looking for things I can still accomplish and that maybe others wouldn’t do. That’s why the Weinberg project is so important to me, because I feel I’ve found this valuable music. I believe in it, and I have to make others believe in it, too.”

 

Given the size of his output, Weinberg will continue to occupy Mr. Kremer for some time. He still gives about 100 concerts a year: “Too much,” he said. He couldn’t relent this year because of the double anniversary (his own and his ensemble’s), and he no longer takes long sabbaticals.

 

But he would like to be able to cut back and relax at home for a few weeks at a time, if only he could find a place to call home. He maintains residences in Vilnius, Lithuania, and in the Basel region of Switzerland. He has two adult daughters in Riga and New York.

 

“Even in Latvia for a while I felt like a foreigner, was treated like a foreigner,” he said. “I really have difficulty to place myself. It sounds too pretentious and too pathetic to say that music is my home. But my home, I would say, is my friendships, be they with composers or colleagues of the Kremerata.”

 

Though intensely engaged with both past and present, Mr. Kremer takes his motto just now from the title of a work he recently performed in Berlin, Ms. Gubaidulina’s “In Tempus Praesens.”

 

“I try to be onstage in tempus present,” he said, “to live my life in tempus present, not to look nostalgically at 30 years of Lockenhaus or the 500 conductors I have played with. It’s all past. And a successful concert is already yesterday. You have to do it again and again.”




Gidon Kremer & Kremerata Baltica at 92Y - February 2, 2017   Posted 1.04.17

Internationally acclaimed Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, who was recently awarded the prestigious 2016 Praemium Imperiale Award by the Japan Arts Association, returns to New York with his ensemble Kremerata Baltica on February 2, 2017. Kremerata Baltica comprises outstanding young players from the Baltic states — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia – selected by Gidon Kremer through a rigorous auditioning process. From their very first concert 19 years ago Kremerata Baltica has conquered discerning audiences with their exuberance, energy and joy in playing, performing in more than 50 countries, in 600 cities and giving more than 1500 concerts around the world during this time.

“They animate everything their bows touch.” — Los Angeles Times

When: February 2, 2017, 7:30 pm.
Where:  Kaufmann Concert Hall, Lexington Avenue at 92nd St, New York, NY 10128

 

For  more information and to book tickets, please visit the 92Y website here.

 

Use the promo code KREMER20 for a 20% discount.

 

To read more about Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica  please visit their website here.




Hear the music of Peteris Vasks - Chelsea Symphony - January 27 & 28, 2017   Posted 1.04.17
On January 27 and 28, 2017, The Chelsea Symphony’s January's concert series opens with a world premiere by TCS composer Tim Kiah. Friday's concert features Daniel Dunford performing J.S. Bach's Violin Concerto on bass trombone and Saturday's concert features Jason Smoller on English horn for the NYC premiere of Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks' Concerto for English Horn. TCS welcomes three guest conductors on Strauss's Overture to Die Fledermaus, Kodály's Dances of Marosszek, and Bartók's Romanian Folk Dances.

Tickets will be available on Eventbrite.
Concerts will be held at St. Paul's Church, 315 West 22nd Street. For more information please visit the Chelsea Symphony’s website here.

To read more about Peteris Vasks, please click here.



Kristīne Opolais at MetOpera - February 2, 2017   Posted 1.04.17

Kristīne Opolais has established herself as one of the most sought after international opera singers. Beginning February 2, 2017 she stars in the role that helped launch her international career, the mythical Rusalka.

To book tickets please visit the MetOpera website here.




Andris Nelsons leads the BSO again at Carnegie Hall - February 28, March 1 & 2, 2017   Posted 1.04.17
Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons is Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and is the designated Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, with the appointment commencing in the 2017/18 season. With these positions, and in leading a pioneering alliance between these two esteemed institutions, Grammy Award winning Nelsons is firmly underlined as one of the most renowned and innovative conductors on the international scene today.

He returns with the BSO to Carnegie Hall on February 28, March 1 and 2, 2017. On February 28, the BSO will be accompanied by Latvian violinist Baiba Skride.

To book tickets for one or more of the above concerts, please visit the Carnegie Hall website here. To read more about Andris Nelsons, please visit his website here.



Elīna Garanča - at Carnegie Hall - March 19, 2017   Posted 1.04.17
Elīna Garanča performs lushly Romantic songs by Brahms, Duparc, Rachmaninoff, and others in her return to Carnegie Hall on March 19, 2017.

To book tickets, visit the Carnegie Hall website here.

To read more about Elīna Garanča please click here.



Elīna Garanča returns to MetOpera - April 13, 2017   Posted 1.04.17
The New York Times has said of Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča: “There are few voices as sheerly lovely as hers: a smooth, evenly produced instrument, rich but not heavy, with high notes that penetrate without blaring.”  Elīna Garanča returns to MetOpera on April 13, 2017 in Strauss’s opera “Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier”

To book tickets for any of the above performances, please visit the MetOpera website here.


Marina Rebeka returns to star in Don Giovanni at MetOpera - April 26,2017   Posted 1.04.17

On April 26, 2017, Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka returns performs as Donna Elvira in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni.

To book tickets please visit the MetOpera website here.




See Kristaps Porzingis in action at MSG   Posted 1.04.17

See Kristaps Porzingis in action at New York's Madison Square Gardens !

 

You can save up to 25% by using our new special discount code RIGAKP that has been set up for you at the MSG Ticketmaster website. Valid for all home games through to May 2017. Click here and enter the code RIGAKP when making the order.

The promo code work best in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox – not Internet Explorer.
 

If you need help booking tickets with this code, please contact Cole Schlesinger at MSG Sports who can assist with your order: email:  Cole.Schlesinger@msg.com ;  tel +1-212-631-5739.




Dual Citizenship with Latvia - who is eligible, how to apply if you are eligible, FAQ ...   Posted 1.01.17

Here is a quick summary on the changes to Latvia’s Citizenship Law that took effect October 1st, 2013. These changes allow eligible people (who already have citizenship of another country) to also register as a Latvian citizen. That is, have dual citizenship. Please read on to see if you can apply and how to do this.

 

In summary, there are 3 categories under which one may apply for Latvian citizenship:

 

Exiles (those who were forced to leave Latvia between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990 due to foreign occupation) and their descendants who were born (and will have been born) by October 1, 2014

Latvia citizenship can be requested by those who were citizens of Latvia on June 17, 1940 and whofled occupation and left Latvia between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990, and for this reason did not return to Latvia, as well as their descendants, who will be born by October 1, 2014.  Dual citizenship is allowed with any other country!

 

At the time of your birth at least one of your parents was a citizen of Latvia

In this case dual citizenship is allowed for those who are citizens of the member states of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), NATO or if you are a citizen of Australia, Brazil or New Zealand (children are eligible for dual citizenship with any country, but at age 25 will have to make a choice).

 

You are an ethnic Latvian or Liv

In requesting citizenship based on your ethnic origin you will be required to pass a language exam in Latvia.  You are allowed to maintain dual citizenship with any other country!

 

Full details of the new registration requirements (in Latvian) can be found here.

 

Full details of the new registration requirements (in English) can be found here.

 

We can also email you if necessary a comprehensive guide document prepared by the Embassy of Latvia in Washington of how to apply.

 

If you wish to apply, what are the required steps?

 

First, decide under which category you are eligible (and/or members of your family, children, grandchildren).

 

Second, complete the relevant application form(s) (which are available on the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (www.pmlp.gov.lv) website. You will also need to include all supporting documents required in your application. The application form needs to be completed in Latvian (no exceptions). If you need assistance, the Consulate can help with this form (however, we do not process any applications for citizenship - only assist with translations and related questions).  Note, if you are applying for yourself, consider at the same time applying for any other family members who might also be eligible for dual citizenship (like your son/daughter, grandchildren). It is much more efficient to apply for everyone at the same time in a family, using all your documents once for everyone in your family).

 

Third, send your application and application fee to the Consular Section of the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C.. (www.mfa.gov.lv/usa).

 

Embassy of Latvia, 2306 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008, Tel +1-202-328-2840; +1-202-328-2881; +1-202-328-2882,
e-mail: consulate.usa@mfa.gov.lv

 

The current application fee is USD 50.00 (payable only by Money Order, to "Embassy of Latvia"). Note: if you are sending in any original U.S. documents (U.S. birth certificate, U.S, marriage certificate etc.), then these original documents will need to have an Apostile stamp on them (issued to you by your local Office of the Department of State).  To have your original documents returned to you, please include an additional fee of $20 (USPS return mail) or $30 (for FedEx) with your application to the Embassy.

 

The Consular Section in Washington will review your application to see if everything is in order before sending it to Riga. If your application is successful, then you will be notified in writing by the PMLP in Riga (to your mailing address and/or email address). This typically takes 1 month for children of latvian citizens; up to 4 months for Latvian exciles and descendants; and up to one year for all other applications.

 

Once you have been granted Citizenship, you will be eligible to apply for a Latvian passport. 

 

Note, you can also send your application direct to the PMLP in Riga (without the assistance of the Embassy of Latvia in Washington). However, you are then responsible to ensure that all your documentation is 100% correct and complete. Incomplete/incorrect applications will be returned and have to be re-filed. 

 

 



To see the full article/note, please download here

Bank of Latvia - Monthly Report - December 2016   Posted 12.22.16

In this month's report the Bank of Latvia looks at recent trends in manufacturing output, inflation and exports.

 

Manufacturing output +7%/yr in October) continues to do well, assisted by improved export sales despite a weaker than expected domestic demand situation.

 

Inflation has picked up a little in November (+1.3%/yr), boosted by excise tax hikes.

 

Export growth remains sluggish (-1.7%/yr in October). Latvian companies continue to diversify their target markets, as they still cope with Russian sanctions in some key agriculture and food sectors.

 

In the Focus section, the Bank looks at how the sluggish abosption of EU funds in 2016 has impacted GDP growth (forecast at around 1%) and that in 2017 GDP growth should be stronger as absorption of EU funds reverts to more normal levels.

 

For full details see attached report or visit www.bank.lv

 



To see the full article/note, please download here

Pozingis: A Rising Star from NYC to Latvia   Posted 11.19.16

By Lenn Robbins – MSG Networks – November 18, 2016

 

The first time the New York  Knicks‘ 7-foot-3 forward Kristaps Porzingis learned that a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself had been placed in the arrivals terminal at Riga International Airport in Latvia was when a fan tagged him in an Instagram post.

 

“It looked like it was the real me,’’ Porzingis told MSGNetworks.com with a chuckle. “When I saw it, I did say, ‘That’s a good looking man.’’’

 

Aesthetics aside, there’s no debating that Porzingis has looked exceptional on the court this season. If he continues the improvement he’s shown in just his second season, Porzingis might have an entire airport named for him.

 

“He’s the most popular athlete in Latvia, if not the most popular person,’’ said Daris G. Delins, Honorary Consul of the Latvian Consulate in New York. “The young kids especially are very keen on becoming, Just like Kristaps!”

 

Delins’ children, son Matiss and daughter Luna, are two of many who have enjoyed the life-size cutout.

 

Porzingis’s popularity in one of Europe’s smallest nations and America’s largest city is soaring after he scored a career-high 35 points in Wednesday night’s 105-102 win over the Detroit Pistons at The Garden.

 

“Brilliant,’’ Carmelo Anthony said of Porzingis. “His confidence was through the roof.’’

 

That confidence is helping a player, whose skill set is unlike any other in NBA history, flirting with stardom.

 

Last season, he became the first rookie ever to record at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 blocks and 75 three-pointers made. He’s on pace to shatter those numbers.

 

“He’s dangerous, for a second-year player that doesn’t really know the game like that,’’ Derrick Rose said. “And for him to be 7-3 and move the way he moves is crazy. A unique player.’’

 

Perhaps more impressive than his basketball ability has been Porzingis’s maturity in handling his dual role as Latvia’s basketball rock star and the future of the Knicks.

 

At 21, he’s still growing into his body and his fledgling stardom.

 

“Today, if you ask someone in NYC, ‘Do they know a Latvian?’ They say, ‘No,’’’ said Delins. “You ask if they know KP-6, more often than not, they have heard of him. So the connection he has been able to provide us has been immense.’’

 

Porzingis, who wears No. 6, is proud of his Latvian heritage.

 

Ask him which country won the first European Championship and he’ll tell you, “Latvia, 1935.”

 

Ask him what he’s doing Friday and he’ll tell you he’s celebrating Latvian Independence Day (the nation is 98 today).

 

Ask him what he’s doing this summer and you really see the twinkle in his eye.

 

“I love the way they receive me back home,’’ Porzingis said. “The support is unbelievable. And I know next summer [when] I play with the national team, it’s going to explode. I look forward to next summer, going back home again and receiving all that love from the people.’’

 

Porzingis, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the Knicks 119-112 loss to the Washington Wizards Thursday night, is getting more and more love from Knicks fans with every outing.

 

Most Americans knew little of him heading into last year’s draft. They saw a tall, somewhat skinny 7-footer who was listed at 220 pounds – with ankle weights. He’s up to 240. His shooting, mobility and strength are better, which has allowed coach Jeff Hornacek to play him at the ‘5’ on occasion.

 

Porzingis is averaging 20.3 points on 49.2-percent shooting from the floor, 40-percent from behind the arc and 6.8 rebounds. As a rookie, he averaged 14.3 points on 42.1-percent shooting, 33-percent from behind the arc and 5.5 rebounds.

 

Rising numbers. Rising star.

 

“He’s growing day-by-day, and not just in size, but his ability to play,” Hornacek said after the Detroit win. “You see the whole package (tonight). I thought he was great.”

 

Porzingis scored his 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting, while grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out three assists, blocking one shot and making one steal.

 

When the MSG crowd saw on GardenVision that Porzingis had posted a career-high, they broke into a chant of, “MVP!”

 

“Too early,’’ Porzingis joked after the game. “It’s a New York crowd. They did the same thing last year when I had that 29-point game [his previous career-high] versus Charlotte. All the support we got gave me so much energy.’’

 

These are energized times in Latvia because of Porzingis’s success. US troops and YMCA personnel brought the game of basketball to Latvia in the 1920s, after World War I. The sport quickly caught on. Porzingis is rekindling that passion.

 

That life-size cutout of Porzingis? It’s stationed at the Riga Airport before passengers pass through immigration.

 

“That’s the first thing you see,’’ said Porzingis. “It was awesome really.’’

 

There is another cut-out of Porzingis in his hometown of Liepāja. Porzingis took a selfie with, well, himself.

 

Porzingis is not boastful, but in conversation you sense his inner drive. He does not want to be another European that has made it in the NBA, he wants to be one of great players of all time.

 

“I think these days more and more European players are coming out and playing in this league, and the level is rising,’’ Porzingis said. “The future is pretty bright, for Latvia especially.’’

 

And for the Knicks.

 

To see the full online article, please click here.




Address of President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis to compatriots all over the world on the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Latvia   Posted 11.15.16

Dear compatriots all over the world! I greet you from the newly restored Riga Castle !

 

It is my pleasure to address you again at the time, when we are celebrating the Latvian national holidays far and near. We are aware of our belonging to Latvia especially on these days. Living and working have taken you away to different countries of the world. However, you are united by the thoughts about free and independent Latvia, interest about the current events in the homeland, and the desire to participate in building a better future.

 

This time is always an opportunity to look back on the previous year; assess the achievements, and identify approaching challenges. Year 2016 has brought both achievements and challenges to Latvia.

 

I am glad that we have strengthened the defensibility of Latvia during so turbulent times in the world. We continue increasing our defence spending consistently on our own, and our allies appreciate that. A historic decision on deployment of four multinational battalions in the Baltic States and Poland was made at the NATO Summit in Warsaw this summer. This is by far the most serious proof of NATO’s readiness to defend independence of the Eastern European countries, including Latvia.

 

Whereas the Latvia’s accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development was a recognition for the Latvia’s readiness to improve its economic governance by achieving internationally recognized standards.

 

However, we should not get complacent in any way and we have sometimes received recognition in advance. The government has committed itself to reforms in education and healthcare. However, that is only the beginning of the road. The public administration requires courage and meet the objectives it has set itself. 


Dear compatriots!

 

The referendum held this summer on withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union is another evidence of how volatile the world around us tends to be and how seemingly unexpected events can affect all of us. Therefore, it is even more important to work on turning Latvia into a modern, innovative, prosperous, and peaceful country, where everyone would like to return to after education or work experience is gained abroad.

 

I hope to your help very much in achieving this objective. Latvia requires you, because the things you witnessed are unique knowledge. Many of you had to overcome many difficulties to succeed far from your family and friends. I have no doubt that you can take part in the forging of outstanding achievement here in Latvia as well.

 

Dear compatriots!

 

You all represent our country abroad; I mean you are Latvian ambassadors. I urge you to tell the businesses in your host country that they should invest in Latvia, because this is a unique place on the global map and that well-educated and hardworking people live here. Tell people about Latvia; invite them to come here to enjoy our hospitality, beautiful nature, and rich cultural life.

 

We will celebrate the first centenary since the establishment of the State of Latvia already in two years. Exile compatriots had the priceless role in keeping the idea of ​​independence alive during many decades of occupation and to help Latvia return to the free world as a full-fledged member of the strongest international organizations.

 

Thanks to the fact that Latvia is an independent democratic state, we have the opportunities that we could only dream about even a few decades ago, that is, we can travel freely; choose a place for working or studies in order to increase prosperity of our family and ourselves and to make our dreams and intentions come true.

 

Nevertheless, we remain a part of our country, Latvia, no matter where life takes us. We are a small group of people on a global scale, who have been incredibly lucky, because we have our own independent state, Latvia.

 

 Thank you for your tremendous work and commitment to keep language, culture, and traditions of our nation alive. We will use the opportunities offered together to make Latvia stronger, safer, and more confident.

 

Have a nice national holiday!

 

God bless Latvia!

 

To see a video of the Presidentš speech please click here:

 

https://youtu.be/xeQWrNUNq5g (in Latvian)

 

https://youtu.be/NO1_EmFM7XM (with English subtitles)

 




Visit Latvia at the 92Y StreetFest - Sunday, September 18, 2016   Posted 9.15.16
On Sunday September 18, the Consulate of Latvia will again participate in the 92Y International Way Street Festival.

The StreetFest stretches from 79th Street to 94th Street on Lexington Avenue and attracts thousands of visitors.

The Latvian booth (located at 89-90th Street on Lexington Avenue) will be in particular promoting Latvia as a must see tourist destination for New Yorkers, as well as answering questions about Latvia. The festival is open from 12 pm  to 6 pm.

The sixteen-block StreetFest is promoted in major New York publications, including The New York Times, Time Out New York, and The Village Voice, in local papers, and on several radio stations. 

To read more about the StreetFest, please visit the 92Y website here.


Mobile passport station in NYC - October 6-8, 2016 - save the date !   Posted 8.23.16

The Embassy of Latvia's mobile passort station will be in NYC on October 6-8, 2016.

 

Citizen's of Latvia can have their passports renewed on that day (or apply for a new passport on that day if they already have a Latvian citizenship number).

 

To attend this passport renewal in NYC, you must complete an application form to get an appointment time on the day. No walk-ins will be accepted.

 

You must send your appointment application in to the Embassy in Washington no later than September 28, 2016.

 

The appointments will take place at:

 

Mission of Latvia to the United Nations 

333 East 50th Street, New York, NK 10022

 

For further details, please see attached letter or visit the Embassy's website here: www.mfa.gov.lv/usa.

 

 




Bank of Latvia - Monthly Report - July 2016   Posted 8.06.16

In this month's newsletter, the Bank looks at the performance of the manufacturing and external trade sectors.

 

In May 2016 manufacturing output increased by 2.9% and 5.3% month-on-month and year-on-year respectively. The strong performance in May was a sound basis for a good manufacturing result in the second quarter and for the total GDP growth. The year-on-year manufacturing growth in May was supported by a 6.0% rise in the wood industry output. A positive contribution was also made by the manufacture of fabricated metal products and that of computers, electronic equipment and optical products. A negative impact on the sector's output resulted from the manufacture of electrical equipment and food industry, affected by Russia's sanctions, as well as manufacture of wearing apparel. The strong performance has been reflected in the improving confidence indicator of the Latvian manufacturing sector over the past few months – a larger number of orders and higher output plans have been reported for the coming months.

 

In May international trade slightly exceeded the value recorded in April. Base metals, motor vehicles and pharmaceutical products posted the highest month-on-month increase in exports in May. In annual terms, merchandise exports increased by 4.4%, which is remarkable, given the uncertain external environment. External demand is still fragile and last month's news about the referendum in the United Kingdom poses questions about the impact of Brexit on Latvia's external trade. Within the next few years, fundamental changes in exports, related to Brexit, are not expected, for merchandise exports to the UK amount to only 5.3% (in 2015); moreover, cooperation between Latvia and the UK in the area of trade has historical roots. Wood and its products, for which the UK is one of the largest exports markets (21.5%), could be most affected by potential fallout from Brexit; however, this type of merchandise to a large extent could be redirected to other countries.

 

 

For further information, see attached document or visit www.bank.lv.

 

 



To see the full article/note, please download here

Latvia officially joins the OECD - Paris - June 2, 2016   Posted 6.02.16

On Thursday 2 June, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), signed the Agreement on Accession of Latvia to the OECD in Paris.

 

Upon ratification of the agreement at the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia, Latvia will officially become the 35th member state of the organization.

  

The Prime Minister pointed out that the OECD membership has been Latvia's objective for twenty years, but membership itself has never been the singular goal. “The accession process of Latvia to the OECD has already brought significant benefits and imporvements - it has been the driving force behind the reform of state-owned capital companies' governance and has served as an additional incentive to enhance our capacity to counter bribery in international business transactions,” said M. Kučinskis.

 

At the same time he pointed out that Latvia must accomplish the implementation of OECD recommendations, and make responsible decisions which would allow for economic development, rather than resting on laurels.

 

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría stressed that Latvia has managed to implement a variety of reforms within three years, thereby making great progress in a short period of time. “I am convinced that Latvia and its residents will benefit from OECD mebership,” said A. Gurría.

 

The Agreement on Accession of Latvia to the OECD was signed at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on 2 June. The OECD Ministerial Council Meetings are held once a year. A high-level forum was also held alongside the meeting where international experts, representatives of business and academic circles, and public organizations addressed the same issues.

 

The Minister for Finance, Dana Reizniece-Ozola and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis also attended the signing ceremony.

 

To read more about Latvia and the OECD, please visit the OECD's website here.

 




Latvia invited to join OECD - May 11, 2016   Posted 5.11.16

OECD countries agreed today to invite Latvia to become a member of the Organisation – a move that would extend OECD’s membership to 35 countries.

 

OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría Said: “We are very pleased to welcome Latvia as a member of the OECD. This development reaffirms our Organisation’s commitment to bring together countries who want to be part of this ‘house of best practices’, which aims to provide answers and solutions to the world’s leading economic and social challenges.”

 

“I am sure that Latvia will make a great contribution to enrich the work of the OECD as a source of effective and innovative public policies, and that its OECD membership will also support Latvia’s efforts to continue improving the lives of its citizens.”

 

Marten Kokk, Dean of the Organisation's governing Council said: “OECD Member States welcome the successful conclusion of the negotiations with Latvia and its accession to the OECD.

 

“Latvia has implemented wide-ranging structural reforms to establish a modern market economy after it restored its independence in 1991 and joining the OECD is an important acknowledgement of those efforts after joining the EU in 2004 and Euro area at the beginning of 2014.

 

“For the OECD, the accession of Latvia is also a significant development as the country proved to be a successful reformer and will be able to share its own important expertise with current and future Members.”

 

In statements made at a meeting of the Organisation's governing Council, OECD countries expressed the wish that membership in the Organisation will bring Latvia closer to OECD standards in all fields.

 

During nearly three years of accession discussions, Latvia has been reviewed by 21 OECD Committees on two fronts: an evaluation of Latvia’s willingness and ability to implement substantive OECD legal instruments, as well as an evaluation of Latvia’s policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices.

 

“With Estonia already an OECD member since 2010, Latvia now invited to join and Lithuania in the process of accession, the OECD will be much better connected to the Baltic region,” said Mr. Gurría. “The economic and financial crisis has underlined the need for our countries to work together to find appropriate policy responses to restore growth and confidence.”

 

For countries seeking to join the OECD such as Latvia, the accession process itself can serve as a catalyst for important reforms and support domestic policy agendas. For example, as part of its accession process, Latvia has committed to the re-establishment of boards of directors in all large commercial state-owned enterprises and has  improved its anti-money laundering regulations.

 

Many of Latvia’s priorities are already in line with the OECD’s agenda – for example reducing inequalities, maximising trade and investment, fostering innovation, fighting corruption and optimising the effectiveness of education, health and labour market policies. OECD membership will allow Latvia to further tap into the vast reservoir of OECD expertise, advice and policy dialogue in order to support policy-makers and reformers. OECD members will also have a greater access to Latvia’s experience in different fields and will be able to learn from it.

 
Latvia was invited to open accession talks in 2013, along with Colombia. Membership talks with Colombia are continuing, and in April 2015 the Council decided to open accession discussions with Costa Rica and Lithuania. In parallel, the OECD is strengthening its growing partnership with major emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Specific country programmes are ongoing with Kazakhstan, Morocco and Peru.

 

An Accession Agreement between Latvia and the Organisation will be signed at a special ceremony on 2 June, during the annual meeting of the OECD Council at ministerial level in Paris. Latvia will become a member of the Organisation once it has taken the appropriate steps at the national level to accede to the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession with the French government, depository of the OECD Convention.

 

More information on OECD's work on Latvia: www.oecd.org/latvia/.

 

More information on how accession to the OECD works: www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/enlargement.htm.




Bank of Latvia - Monthly Report - April 2016   Posted 4.21.16

In this month's report the Bank looks at recent trends in inflation, industrial production and external trade. The Bank also looks at the impact of joining the Eurozone on Latvia's exports in the past two years. For more detail please read on here or see attached article below.

 

Latvia's exports to euro area: developments after joining

 

For two years now, Latvia has been a member of the euro area (EA). Already before Latvia joined the EA, the latter was and continues to be an important market for Latvian exporters.

 

At present, slightly less than a half of total exports from Latvia go to markets of EA countries: in 2015 overall, the volume of goods and services exports to the EA accounted for 44.2% of the total export volume.  Currently, almost half of total goods exported from Latvia (amounting to 49.0% in 2015) are sold in the EA markets. As to exports of services, the EA share is considerably smaller and in 2015 accounted for 32.0% of total services exports.

 

It is noteworthy that almost two thirds of total exports of goods to the euro area go to Estonia and Lithuania, the two neighbouring Baltic States participating in the euro area.

 

As a result of joining the single currency area several barriers have been lifted, e.g. currency

fluctuation risk has been reduced, currency conversion costs have been eliminated, bank lending interest rates have fallen, etc. As a result, some potential momentum is likely to be given to the foreign trade activity in a longer term. Nevertheless, Latvia's EA export dynamics has not been promising in the recent two years, yet, taking into account the region's overall slow and uneven growth, even a moderate upward movement should be treated as a positive development. It should also be noted that in the two respective years the dynamics of both exports of goods and exports of services to the EA have differed rather notably.

 

According to the CSB data, a slight increase by 2.2% in 2014 and 2015 annually has been recorded for exports of goods to the EA. Nevertheless, the 2014 rise in exports to the EA was basically determined by a positive 4.4% export growth primarily to the other two Baltic States, as economic weaknesses of the rest of the EA countries found their reflection in Latvia's exports already in 2013 when goods exports to the EA (Baltic States excluding) contracted; exports to the rest of the EA countries continued to decrease also in 2014, i.e. after Latvia had joined the single currency area. In 2015, however, the annual increase recorded for exports of goods to the other EA countries (2.5%) was similar to the one for the two other Baltic States (2.1%). In exports to the EA countries, a pickup was primarily posted by exports of wood, food and agricultural products.

 

According to the data of Latvijas Banka, a decrease in services exports to the EA in 2014 was 2.4% year-on-year, basically on account of falling transport, computer, information and telecommunication services exports, whereas in 2015 services exports to the EA expanded markedly by 10.5%, primarily determined by an increase in exports of travel and financial services.

 

Given the weak demand from the EA, it was and is still important for the Latvian exporters to strengthen their positions and penetrate new foreign markets also outside the EA. Moreover, better foreign trade integration and diversification within the EA with its single monetary policy act as preconditions for an effective absorption of external economic shocks originating outside the EA. That is why the strengthening of competitive positions of Latvian exporters is more important than passively waiting for the external demand from the EA to build up.

 

 



To see the full article/note, please download here

The battle of the Baltics - Tallinn vs. Riga ... NY Post Travel Section - April 12, 2016   Posted 4.12.16

NY Post – Tuesday, April 12, 2016 – by Dan Allen

 

Tucked away at the top of continental Europe, Tallinn and Riga are the plucky, booming capitals of two of the eurozone’s newest nations (Estonia and Latvia, respectively) — both already firmly on the radar of savvy European travelers, but still murky Soviet-laden mysteries to most Americans.

 

Separated by less than 200 miles and sharing centuries of similar history, Riga and Tallinn look undeniably similar on paper — but in reality, these Baltic beauties are markedly different. Storybook-pretty Tallinn has for years had the economic and entrepreneurial upper hand, thanks in part to Estonia’s strong ties to its rich northern neighbor Finland.

  

Meanwhile much larger Riga is the more lively and cosmopolitan of the two, and is blessed with the planet’s most glorious array of Art Nouveau architecture.

 

What the cities do share is oodles of Old Town charm; a northern-tempered populace that’s friendly but rather reserved; a half century of former Soviet dominance that left its mark and a sizable Russian community; a post-Soviet reputation for affordability that’s pulled in throngs of boozy Brits; and surprisingly rich, distinct and ever-evolving cultural and dining scenes that are now drawing sophisticated global attention and travelers. 

 

Of course given their 50-minute-flight proximity to each other, you should drop in on both Riga and Tallinn. But if you only have time for one, or you’re deciding how to best split your time between them, which one’s more for you?

 

Claims to fame

Tallinn: Picture-perfect Old Town; birthplace of Skype; capital of the world’s only country to offer e-residency.

 

Riga: Most Art Nouveau architecture of any world city; birthplace of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Sergei Eisenstein; hosted continent-wide LGBT event EuroPride in June.

 

Quick history

Both: Founded in the 13th century; ruled by streams of Germans, Danes, Swedes and Russians until independence in 1918; half a century of Nazi and Soviet overlordship starting in 1940, followed by second independence in 1991.

 

Getting around  

Both: Old The Old Towns are highly walkable; 1-day public transport passes are roughly $5.50 in each.

 

Must-see sights

Tallinn: Stroll the unbelievably adorable Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site; climb Toompea Hill for its spectacular city views; check out the massive family-friendly maritime museum Seaplane Harbour.

 

Riga: Walk down Alberta iela, the city’s most beautiful Art Nouveau street; blend and buy with locals at the big and bustling Riga Central Market; climb to the top of historic St. Peter’s Church for a fantastic view of the surrounding Old Town.

  

Tallinn: Kumu, the Baltics’ largest art museum, showcases the best of Estonian art since the 18th century; Kiek in de Kök traces Tallinn’s history since its founding in 1219.

 

Riga: The Occupation Museum of Latvia surveys the country’s centuries of tough treatment under streams of empires; the Art Nouveau Museum presents the restored Jugendstil interior of an architect’s home circa 1903.

 

Best Soviet nostalgia

Tallinn: As Tallinn’s first Soviet-era hotel for foreigners, the Viru was fertile ground for KGB snoopery; that legacy’s now preserved in the small but interesting top floor KGB Museum, which comes with great guides and terrific city views. 

 

Riga: Recently opened to the public, the big and ominous KGB Corner House was, as the Soviet spy organization’s Latvian nerve center, the grim site of thousands of interrogations and hundreds of executions.

 

Hipster neighborhood

Tallinn: Once home to fishermen and factory workers, the seaside Kalamaja district and its colorful wooden houses are now filled with young creative types.

 

Riga: Literally “Peace Street,” Miera iela used to be known mostly for its cemeteries, but it’s now the active hub of the city’s arty and start-up class.

 

Hotels

Tallinn: For small hotel luxury in a medieval setting, the Old Town’s Schlössle Hotel (from $240) is unmatched; equally medieval but more central and affordable is the boutique-y Merchant’s House Hotel (from $150).

 

Riga: Built as the Central Bank of Latvia in 1877, the Grand Palace Hotel (from $250) now offers the country’s finest accommodations; easier on the wallet is the charming and well-situated Old City Boutique Hotel (from $110), formerly a 17th century warehouse.

 

Dining

Tallinn: Strong and diverse scene excelling in quirky takes on traditional Baltic cuisine, as at nANo (the downhome domain of local celeb Beatrice Fenice, Estonia’s first Playboy bunny) and the eclectically decorated Manna La Roosa; no Michelin-starred restaurants in town yet, but the elegant Russian-French fusion at Tchaikovsky is a worthy contender.

 

Riga: Boldly experimental scene that spawned the notorious (but now sadly defunct) medical-fetish-themed Hospitalis; the Michelin-level Vincents leads the current restaurant pack at the top end and is the favorite of Riga-visiting celebrities and royalty, while trendy waterfront seafood eatery Aqua Luna is more modestly priced. 

 

Nightlife

Tallinn: Lively scene where international-style bohemianism (NoKu Klubi) merges with offbeat theme venues (Depeche Mode Bar, a living homage to the band) and no-frills old school Russian hangouts like Kolm Lõvi.

 

Riga: Surprisingly hip and eclectic scene where of-the-moment hangouts include the Soviet-style Gauja and Chomsky, the arty Cita Puse, and late night electronic dance den One One.

  

Uber available?

Tallinn: Yes. 

Riga: No.

 

How’s the Wi-Fi? 

Both: Abundant; well-marked free hotspots abound citywide; Riga claims Europe’s largest number of free wifi hotspots per capita.

 

To read the full artcile click here or also see the one-page summary attached here below.



To see the full article/note, please download here

The Master Plan - film screening premiere - Friday, May 6, 2016, 7 PM   Posted 4.08.16

The Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism invites you to the premiere of The Master Plan documentary, followed by a discussion with the creators of the film.

 

WHEN: Friday, May 6, 2016, 7 PM

WHERE: Estonian House, 243, East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016

 

The Master Plan analyzes the Russian government's propaganda war in Europe, as particularly waged in the Baltics to destabilize Western social and political institutions there. Tactics explored include spreading disinformation on current and historical events, promoting bogus NGOs and funding political figures aligned with Moscow. The film serves as an alarm of Putin's determined aim to establish post-Soviet hegemony in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

 

The Master Plan features insights from experts including Anne Applebaum (Columnist at The Washington Post), Lev Gudkov (Director of the Levada Center), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (former Prime Minister of Denmark and Secretary General of NATO), Julian Lindley-French (Senior Fellow at the Institute of Statecraft), Edward Lucas (Editor at The Economist) and others.

 

The Master Plan is a joint production of Re:Baltica - The Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism (a group of journalists from the Baltic countries), Mistrus Media (Latvia), Monoklis (Lithuania) and Allfilm (Estonia) film studios.

 

The documentary was produced in collaboration with Red Dot Media film studio, the public broadcasting organisations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania (LTV, ERR and LRT), national film centers of Latvia and Lithuania, the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission, the Latvian State Culture Capital Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

 

Director Juris Pakalniņš

Moderator script by Sanita Jemberga

Research by Inga Spriņģe and Arta Ģiga

 

Tickets: on the day, by donation, at the door.

 

Visit the premiere's Facebook page or send us an email if you are interested in attending: masterplan.usa.tour@gmail.com.                       




Brodsky / Baryshnikov (U.S. Premiere) directed by Alvis Hermanis, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov March 9-19, 2016   Posted 3.02.16

Brodsky / Baryshnikov is a one-man show based on the poems of Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky, performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov. Conceived and directed by Alvis Hermanis, noted Latvian director of The New Riga Theatre, Brodsky / Baryshnikov is an emotional journey deep into the poet's visceral and complex compositions. Performed in Russian, Brodsky's mother tongue, Baryshnikov recites a selection of his long-time friend’s poignant and eloquent works. His subtle physicality transports the audience into Hermanis' reverent imagining of Brodsky's interior world. Mikhail Baryshnikov was born in Riga.  For more information about this event, please visit the Baryshnikov Arts Center. All tickets for these performances have already been sold out.




Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York - February 24, 2016   Posted 2.25.16
The Council on Foreign Relations in New York hosted Latvia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Edgars Rinkēvičs on February 24. The Minister spoke about the latest issues facing Latvia and Europe, including, the topics of migration, European security, the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw and the implications of the pending Brexit referendum. You can see the Minister's visit and discussion to the CFR here via this YouTube link.


Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons and the BSO wins Grammy Award - February 15, 2016   Posted 2.16.16

Latvian born music director Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra's recording, Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow-featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 and the Passacaglia from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk-won the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance  today (February 15, 2016) at the 58th annual Grammy Awards.

 

 

"On behalf of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the engineering and production team involved in the project, it is an extraordinary honor for me to accept the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for our Deutsche Grammophon recording of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony, recorded live in the glorious acoustical space of Boston's remarkable Symphony Hall," said BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons.

 

 

"There is no doubt that this prestigious Grammy Award shines a spotlight on my exceptional Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians, who so powerfully convey both the exquisite music and great depth of emotion stemming from Stalin's Soviet Union in our recording of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony.   This incredibly gratifying acknowledgement of our work together truly provides a new level of inspiration for us as we continue to move forward with our Shostakovich project alongside our wonderful partner, the equally exceptional, Deutsche Grammophon.  We hope this recording will give the BSO's devoted patrons and classical music fans around the world a sense of our commitment to this transcendent music from which so much can be taken."

 

 

Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow, which was released on July 31, 2015, was recorded live during the BSO's April 2-4, 2015 concerts at Symphony Hall, and is Mr. Nelsons and the orchestra's first recording released under the Deutsche Grammophon label. The recording was produced by Ute Fesquet and Shawn Murphy, with recording engineers Nick Squire and John Morin. Nick Squire, Robert Wolff, and Tim Martyn edited the recording, and Tim Martyn and Phoenix Audio were mastering engineers.

 

 

This is the Boston Symphony Orchestra's seventh Grammy Award (the Boston Symphony Chamber Players also won a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Performance, Instrumental or Vocal, in 1966, totally eight for the organization) and Andris Nelsons' first.

 

 

Symphony Nos. 5, 8, and 9, as well as incidental music to Hamlet will be released in a 2-album set in late April 2016; these works are being recorded during the BSO's 2015-16 season, details of which are available at www.bso.org.




Māris Kučinskis elected Prime Minister of Latvia - February 11, 2016   Posted 2.11.16

On Thursday February 11, the Saeima, Latvia’s Parliament voted 60 to 32 to elect Mr. Māris Kučinskis as Latvia's next Prime Minister, replacing Ms. Laimdota Straujuma who announced she was stepping down on December 7, 2015.

 

The PM’s party ZZS (Greens and Farmers Union) will hold 6 ministerial positions, one more than before; Vienotiba (Unity) will hold 5 positions; the remaining 3 positions will be held by Visu Latvijai ! - Tēvzemei un brīvībai / LNNK (National Alliance). Eleven of the ministers from the previous government will continue to work in the new government, of which eight will retain their previous posts.

 

Maris Kučinskis was born on 28 November 1961. His university educational background is in economics.  He has been a parliamentary deputy since 2003. In the current 12th Saiema, he was Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission.

 

To read more about PM Māris Kučinskis, please visit the Ministerial home page here.




Kristaps Porzingis invites school kids to the NY Knicks game against the Denver Nuggets on February 7, 2016   Posted 2.08.16

NY Knicks center-forward Kristaps Porzingis invited a group of Latvian school kids from the NY/NJ area to their game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday February 7. The young fans were delighted to meet their favorite basketball star as he shook their hands and signed their t-shirts. Kristaps had a terrific scoring game, matching the points of his team mate Carmelo Anthony. But the Knicks just failed to match the pressure of the Nuggets, losing in a close finish, 96 to 101. For more information please visit the NY Knicks home page here.




World-class Latvian glass fibre manufacturer Valmiera Glass to expand their production facilities here in the U.S. - January 26, 2016   Posted 1.27.16

In pursuit of an even stronger position in the global market, one of Europe’s leading fiberglass manufacturers, JSC Valmieras stikla šķiedra, is planning to expand its line of fiberglass and its products manufactured at Valmiera Glass USA Corp., which is located in Dublin, Laurens County, Georgia, in the United States. Over the next six years, as part of the expansion project, the company’s management is planning to create 425 new jobs at its U.S.-based production facility and to invest USD 90 million (EUR 80 million) by using the company’s own funds and attracting loans from long-term partners.

 

As early as the spring of 2014, Valmiera Glass Group announced plans to invest USD 20 million in its U.S.-based production facility and to hire 150 employees. The second phase of the Group’s development plan envisages the creation of an additional 425 jobs and the investment of USD 90 million through 2022. As a result of this expansion, Valmiera Glass USA Corp. will become the largest employer in Laurens County and a leading manufacturing company in the central-eastern region of Georgia.

 

Andre Schwiontek, Chairman of the board at JSC Valmieras stikla šķiedra, says that the expansion of the company’s U.S. production facility is a development-oriented strategic step on the part of the Valmiera Glass Group that will provide American customers with a broader range of products, shorter delivery times and better service, while at the same time securing more competitive production costs for the manufacturer.

 

“The fiberglass industry and its related markets have been developing rapidly over the last few years. Demand for fiberglass products has increased, while the company’s productive capacity can barely meet existing demand. Our expansion in the United States is a solution to this problem. We will improve our manufacturing stability and gain advantages provided by the U.S. state investment incentive program and energy prices,” Schwiontek explains.

 

According to Dr. Fred Williams, Chairman of Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority, “Valmiera’s [Glass USA Corp.] Phase II expansion is one of the largest and most exciting economic development wins in the history of Dublin-Laurens County. Over 400 families will be positively impacted by this decision, and we are so thankful to the company and all of our local, state, and federal partners for helping us secure these new jobs.”

 

The newly created jobs will require highly qualified and trained personnel. The initial training will be conducted by a team of fiberglass-industry professionals from Latvia. Furthermore, for the training of potential employees, the Valmiera Glass Group is going to establish a dedicated training center at the Oconee Fall Line Technical College. The college will provide suitable training premises, while the Group will support the provision of equipment to be used for training in state-of-the-art manufacturing.

 

“Simultaneous development is scheduled for Valmiera and Great Britain, such as an investment of 5.5 million euros in 2016 for the modernization and development of production processes, as well as the improvement of productivity and quality at Valmiera. Nevertheless, in light of Latvia’s energy policies, we have decided to create 425 jobs in the United States instead of Latvia,” Schwiontek explains.

 

As announced before, Valmiera Glass USA Corp., a subsidiary of JSC Valmieras stikla šķiedra, commissioned a production facility of some 7,400 square meters in Dublin, Georgia, on March 26, 2015. Moreover, in 2013, JSC Valmieras stikla šķiedra purchased an enterprise in the United Kingdom. JSC Valmieras stikla šķiedra and its subsidiaries operate in three countries on two continents: Latvia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Their products are aimed at various industrial markets, including composite materials, thermal and technical insulation, and the construction industry.

 

For more information please visit the company’s website here.

 




Bank of Latvia Monthly Report - January 2016   Posted 1.23.16

In this month's report the Bank looks at the impact of the recent decline in oil prices upon the Latvian inflation outlook.

 

See full report attached or visit the Bank's website for more details and analysis.

 



To see the full article/note, please download here

You can now apply for a short-term visa for Latvia here in New York City   Posted 1.20.16

As of January 1, 2016, under a new co-operation agreement between Latvia and Estonia, you can now apply for a short-term visa for Latvia through the Consulate General of the Republic of Estonia in New York City. The Consulate General of Estonia in NY will now issue visas on behalf of Latvia whilst the Embassy of Latvia in Washington will issue visas on behalf of Estonia.

 

If you live in New York and require a visa to travel to Latvia, please contact the Consulate General of the Republic of Estonia: +1-212-883-0636+1-212-883-0636 or email nyconsulate@mfa.ee.

 

Please note, U.S. citizens and passport holders do not need a visa to enter Latvia if their stay is for less than 90 days within a six month period.

 

If reside on the West Coast of the U.S., under a co-operation agreement with the Republic of Poland, you can also apply for a Schengen Visa for travel to Latvia via the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles. Please see their website for more details regarding this visa service.

 

For all other applications for a visa to travel to Latvia, you will need to contact the Embassy of Latvia in Washington D.C.  More information about visa requirements for Latvia can be found on the Embassy's website here




Bank of Latvia Monthly Report - December 2015   Posted 1.20.16

In this month's report, the Bank looks at the recent trends in wages growth (faster) and the resulting upturn in consumer spending which has become the major driver of Latvia's GDP growth in the past 3 quarters.

 

The Bank's Governor Ilmars Rimsevics also discuses the upcoming 2016 budget and the need for the government to keep a very close leash on spending for the longer fiscal health of the country. Below is the Govenor's comments. Attached is the full report.

 

"This is a crucial moment for establishing a reasonable fiscal policy and putting the budget in order, said Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, the Governor of Latvijas Banka, at his regular press conference in December. For 2017, a budget ensuring a solid foundation for Latvia's future economic growth should be adopted. This should be achieved based on several principles: stability, balanced budget, and careful revision of budgetary expenses (zero-based budgeting).

 

The 2016 budget has been adopted despite all the shortcomings so much discussed by entrepreneurs, and we will have to live with it. So right now it is important to not lose time and review the budget drafting process, so that we could adopt the kind of budget for 2017 that would create a stable foundation for the development of Latvian economy in the future.

 

Stability is essential for the Latvian business environment, for attracting investment and for resuming lending. Latvijas Banka supports the proposal of auditing the tax system, at the same time urging to make it clear once and for all: as soon as the taxation system is put in order, we are not going to manipulate it for at least one general election cycle. Thus a practice of a stable and transparent tax system would be established – a system that, instead of being changed every year, is maintained stable for at least four years.

 

The tendency of the last twenty years is worrisome: we have had a budget surplus for only one year; the rest of the time we have lived on debt, increasing the external debt. Still the simple equation is valid: budget deficit = higher public debt = higher taxes. In other words, living with a budget deficit we enter a vicious circle: the public debt is growing and to service it greater funds are needed, but, to find these funds, taxes have to be raised. The raising of taxes has a negative influence on the business environment, it is an obstacle to investment and creates uncertainty about the future both for businesses and households, thus having a negative impact both on economic growth and the budget itself.

 

The promise of establishing a working group for zero budget should be kept, irrespective of what is happening with the coalitions, governments, etc. Any budget activity must be evaluated from the beginning – by assessing the relevance of positions rather than increasing the base for the next years without carefully reviewing the expenditure of previous years. In this work, there should be no red lines: the budget base should be evaluated in all ministries, including the priority ones, whose expenditure was not curtailed for 2016.

 

The current lack of discipline has consequences for the future. Regarding 2016, no prior commitments were honoured, which means that for 2017, a greater fiscal reserve will have to be built. In view of the optimistic forecasts, which have been included in the budget but which may have to be corrected – because of lower inflation, among other things – building the fiscal reserve will be very important.

 

Under the current circumstances, structural reforms in education and healthcare systems are of growing importance. We do hope that in 2016 serious reforms will take place in both of these areas, in order to improve Latvia's competitiveness, and that measures will concurrently bet taken to explain to the general public why such reforms are necessary and what positive effect they will have on our economy in the future.

 

Why are we discussing budget matters already now? We have at least six months till the drafting of the next budget begins and we hope that the Ministry of Finance and the Government will launch a serious discussion for us to see what the Government is spending overall and whether the only way to improve the budget situation is to continue brutally raising the taxes. That's not the way it should be."

 

For more details please visit www.bank.lv

 

 




The Story of the Baltic University - film premiere - February 6, 2016   Posted 1.14.16

“The Story of the Baltic University” is a documentary film about the Baltic University in Hamburg which existed between the years of 1946-1949. This year will be the 70th anniversary of the Baltic University opening its doors to Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian professors and students alike who at the time were fleeing the invading Russians in the aftermath of WWII.

 

Screening February 6, 2016 @4:00 PM

Duration: 52 minutes

Followed by Q&A with Director Helga Merits

 

The New York Estonian House

243 East 34th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Ave)

New York, NY 10016

Voluntary Donations are Welcomed - $10 (NYEH members $5), Children (16 and under) are free.

Reception to follow

RSVP by February 3 !

info@estonianhousenewyork.com




Cantori New York premieres Latvian choral piece - March 12, 2016   Posted 1.14.16

The chamber chorus Cantori New York, Mark Shapiro conductor, will be performing a wonderful choral work by Latvian composer Maija Einfelde, entitled At the Edge of the Earth, on Saturday March 12 at 8 p.m. at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street at Christopher Street.  More information is available at cantorinewyork.com (where you can also purchase tickets)

 




Kristine Opolais returns to MetOpera in Manon Lescaut and Madama Butterfly - February 12, 2016 and March 17, 2016   Posted 1.14.16
The MetOpera stage ignites on February 12 when Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais and tenor Jonas Kaufmann join forces in Puccini’s obsessive love story, Manon Lescaut. Opolais sings the title role of the country girl who transforms herself into a Parisian temptress, while Kaufmann is the dashing student who desperately woos her. For more information and to book tickets, please visit www.metopera.org.

 

Anthony Minghella's breathtaking production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly has thrilled audiences ever since its premiere in 2006. On March 17, Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais reprises her acclaimed portrayal of the title role, opposite Roberto Alagna as Pinkerton, the naval officer who breaks Butterfly's heart. Hei-Kyung Hong, Roberto De Biasio, and Gwyn Hughes Jones star in a second set of performances. Karel Mark Chichon conducts. For more details and to book tickets please visit www.metopera.org




Make a date to see Kristaps Porzingis in action with the NY Knicks - and use our discount code for your tickets   Posted 1.14.16

Make a date to see Kristaps Porzingis in action with the NY Knicks. Save 10-15% by using a special discount code (KRISTAPS) that has been set up for you at the MSG Ticketmaster website. Valid for all home games for the remainder of this season. Click here and enter the code KRISTAPS when making the order. Please note, due to technical reasons this link works best with Chrome and may not work well with Firefox or IE. If you need help booking tickets with this code, please contact Cole Schlesinger at MSG Sports who can assist with your order: email: .Cole.Schlesinger@msg.com ;  tel +1-212-631-5739.




Elīna Garanča returns to the MetOpera on March 24, 2016 to star in Domizetti Roberto Devereux   Posted 1.14.16

Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča returns to the Met this season on March 24 to perform as Sara in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux. Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky takes on the extraordinary challenge of singing all three of Donizetti’s Tudor queens in the course of a single season, a rare feat made famous by Beverly Sills—and not attempted on a New York stage since. Tenor Matthew Polenzani is Devereux and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien complete the principal quartet in the bel canto masterpiece, conducted by Donizetti specialist Maurizio Benini. For more information please visit www.metopera.org




Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to NY Knicks new recruit Kristaps Porzingis   Posted 12.22.15
On December 21, Hon. Consul for Latvia in New York, Daris Delins, congratulated the NY Knicks newest recruit, Latvian forward-center Kristaps Porzingis during his pre-game warm-up and wished him all the best for the upcoming Holiday Season and ahead in 2016. Since his arrival in New York, Kristaps has been featured heavily in the media, with many articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York magazine, New Yorker magazine, and ESPN. On December 23 in his home country Latvia he was named 2015 Rising Star Sportsman.


The Knicks Needed a Hero. Enter Kristaps Porzingis. New York Times December 19, 2015   Posted 12.19.15

The 20-year-old rookie from Latvia is handling the pressures ­of fame with aplomb.

By ALAN FEUER - DEC. 18, 2015

 

In the run-up to Christmas, Kristaps Porzingis, the 20-year-old forward for the New York Knicks, spent an evening signing basketballs and T-shirts at the Brazen Fox pub in White Plains. For 90 minutes, dozens of people — mostly young men in blue-and-orange Knicks gear — approached him and shyly introduced themselves with the same excited greeting: “Yo, K.P.!” Many of them asked Porzingis, who is 7-foot-3, if he would mind standing up before they took their photographs and selfies. What one learns in such a situation is that there are not many ways to tell a man he is tall.

 

 “Sometimes I just don’t want to do it,” he said once the signing event was over and he was back at home, safe inside the lobby of his building. No sooner had he said that than a passing stranger tapped on the lobby window and quickly snapped his picture with an iPhone. Flattered but defeated, Porzingis gave a smile.

 

It’s been that sort of year for Porzingis, a rookie player from Latvia, one in which he has found himself at the top of the New York sports heap — though only after starting at the bottom. Just six months ago, he suffered the indignity of being booed by fans at the Barclays Center after he was chosen by the Knicks as the fourth pick overall in the N.B.A. draft. Carmelo Anthony, the team’s star forward, was said at the time to have been “furious” about what he viewed as a disappointing pick. Though, technically speaking, Porzingis’s career had not yet started, the emblematic image of its early days was of a young fan at the draft caught on camera in his Knicks regalia weeping in the stands.

 

Now he is among the team’s top scorers, sinking three-point baskets and making monster put-back dunks with such frequency that he is in the running for Rookie of the Year. Just before Thanksgiving, Porzingis jerseys were selling fast, competing with those of Stephen Curry, the all-star Golden State Warriors player. Even Anthony has changed his stance, announcing to the news media last week, “I support him 100 percent.”

 

In the meantime, Porzingis has been treated to Page 6 mentions in The New York Post, videos by fashion blogs, and an ESPN advertisement with a hip-hop soundtrack. Naturally, endorsement deals have started. His first was for a New Jersey mattress company, which made him a 98-inch-long bed. Another of his sponsors, Delta Air Lines, has offered him unlimited free travel to Latvia. Yet another, the sports drink BodyArmor, recently began a “12 Days of Kristaps” publicity campaign.

 

This startling transition — from “Boos to Bills,” as one sports website put it — would have been bewildering for any first-year player, let alone for one who had not played in the United States before and was still too young to drink. Despite his age and inexperience, Porzingis has been handling the pressures of his fame with equanimity and grace.

 

“To make it in New York requires a supreme amount of self-awareness and self-confidence, and Kris has both of those,” Steve Mills, the general manager of the Knicks, said. “He wasn’t easily accepted here, but this guy has what it takes to withstand the highs that come with success in New York City and the lows that come with failure.”

 

Much of Porzingis’s resilience comes from his relationship with his family. His father, mother and both of his older brothers played basketball in Latvia and now live with him in his luxury apartment in White Plains. Janis Porzingis, 33, the eldest of the siblings, is in charge of making business deals and scrutinizing contracts. Their other brother, Martins Porzingis, 30, left his job at a high-end bar in Riga, the Latvian capital, to become a sort of manager-slash-body man. Among his responsibilities is squiring the Knicks standout to his various appointments in the family’s new Mercedes-Benz.

 

“Janis is the serious, goal-oriented, overachieving business type,” said Porzingis’s agent, Andy Miller. “Martin is a bit more playful and easygoing. He’s the fun-loving guy who likes to joke around.”

 

Porzingis started playing basketball at age 6 at a local gym in his hometown, Liepaja, a city of 80,000 on the coast of the Baltic Sea. “He picked the ball up pretty much because of all of us,” Janis Porzingis said. “He liked it right away, but I don’t really think he had a choice.”

 

He had some fun along the way. When he was 10, he said, he wore his blond hair in corn rows in honor of his future teammate Anthony, who was by then in the N.B.A. and famous for the style. (Later, in the days before the draft, he made and posted a video of himself singing the rap song “Ridin.’ ”) By 17, Porzingis had embarked on his professional career. He played with the Spanish team Baloncesto Sevilla, and competed in the Liga ACB, which is widely viewed as the second-best basketball league in the world.

 

It was during his time in Spain that Porzingis developed the mechanics of his game and caught the attention of N.B.A. executives and scouts, many of whom flocked to watch him on the European circuit and came away impressed by his shooting and mobility. Although Latvia has produced only a few basketball players who have played in the United States, the sport has had a following there since 1935, when the national team won the first-ever Eurobasket European championship. When Porzingis was drafted by the Knicks, he instantly became the country’s best-known athlete and a hero.

 

“He’s the biggest sensation we have seen in Latvia — everyone is following his success,” said Edvins Snore, a member of Parliament. “My son is 5 and he has in his bedroom now a basketball hoop. He proudly tells me that he is throwing the ball in just like Kristaps.”

 

The reaction in New York has been similar. Though Porzingis is having an extraordinary season, filled with the point-and-rebound triumphs that are known as double-doubles, his last few games have been slightly under par. In his almost perfect English, he has told reporters that although he was not injured, his legs were feeling tired. Still, he insisted, he has not hit the so-called rookie wall.

 

His popularity, however, remains undimmed, and that is due in no small part to the fact that the Knicks lost a franchise-record 65 games last year and are badly in need of a hero of their own. Their last would-be savior was Jeremy Lin, an unassuming point guard whose streaky play in early 2012 resulted in the untenable phenomenon called Linsanity. In mid-November, when Porzingis had his breakout game against Lin’s new team, the Charlotte Hornets, The Daily News ran a full-page photo of a pumped-up Porzingis on its front page. The headline: ZINGSANITY.

 

 To read the full artcile, please click here for the NY Times website.




Porzingis Mania in Latvia - The New Yorker Magazine - December 15, 2015   Posted 12.18.15

Kristaps Porzingis has amazed New York—but he has overwhelmed Latvia, a country with a population of fewer than two million – by David Gendelman – The New Yorker Magazine – December 15, 2015

               

Last month, the Latvian basketball teams BK Liepaja and BK Jekabpils met in an early-season fixture of the Baltic League, which also includes teams from Estonia, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan. Six hundred people packed inside Liepaja’s home arena, the Olympic Center, in the port city on the Baltic Sea. Home-town fans blew air horns, beat drums, and stamped their feet. Their team responded: BK Liepaja won the game easily, 91–71, its ninth-straight victory. The team was led by its starting center, the Pennsylvania native and La Salle University graduate Steve Zack, who posted a double-double, with fifteen points and thirteen rebounds, and was interviewed afterward for Latvian TV. The reporter asked Zack about the game against Jekabpils, but his main interest lay elsewhere.

 

“Did you see Porzingis’s dunk last night?” the reporter asked Zack, referring to Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks’ rookie sensation from Liepaja, who had brought the Madison Square Garden crowd of nearly twenty thousand to their feet when he dunked over the San Antonio Spurs’ all-star forward LaMarcus Aldridge. “They always ask about him in interviews,” Zack said later, over the phone from his apartment in Liepaja. “They’re all about seeing Porzingis.”

 

Despite a recent stretch of so-so performances by the twenty-year-old Latvian, New York basketball fans are all about seeing Porzingis, too. At seven feet three, with a shooting touch that has earned him comparisons to the Dallas Mavericks’ future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, Porzingis has revived a moribund franchise. In addition to his highlight-reel dunks and his three-point shooting range, he has flashed traditional big-man post-up moves and the sort of dribble drives usually reserved for guards. He has amazed New York—but he has overwhelmed Latvia, a country with a population of fewer than two million.

 

“Not only in the sports newspapers but in the daily papers he has been on the front page,” Kaspars Cipruss, a former Latvian national player who is currently a basketball analyst for the Internet TV channel LMT Straume, said. “In Latvia, achievement like this has never happened before.”

 

“He’s the most popular person in Latvia at the moment,” Arturs Kalnitis, one of the most influential basketball agents in the country, told me. “Everyone’s talking about this—housewives, people who have never been related to basketball.”

 

“He’s jumping on a floor you didn’t see before,” the journalist Armands Puce, who hosts the Latvian sports show “Overtime” on the country’s TV6 channel, said. “It’s not about sport. It’s about pop culture.” Transleiteris, a popular Latvian musical parody duo, recorded a rap song about Porzingis, which ESPN then used in a promotional spot for a Knicks game; the song’s video is now approaching a million views on YouTube.

 

At restaurants and bars all across the country, over a plate of beetroot salad, a bottle of Uzavas beer, or a glass of black balsam liqueur, conversation inevitably turns to Porzingis. Politicians strategize about how best to capitalize on the player’s popularity, Puce told me. Subscriptions in Latvia to N.B.A. League Pass, which allows viewers to stream any N.B.A. game at any time, has tripled this year over last.

 

When asked which Latvian personality had previously received the kind of attention Porzingis is currently getting, Kalnitis said, “I don’t think there were any.” In Liepaja, Zack mentioned Maris Verpakovskis, the national soccer team’s all-time leading scorer, who recently returned to his home-town club as a player and club president, and who led the team to a Latvian soccer league title last month. But others dismissed the comparison. Some mentioned the former N.H.L. goaltender Arturs Irbe. Puce considered the former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga—who was born in Latvia but moved away after Soviet occupation in 1944, spent most of her life in Canada, and was elected President in 1999—but then he dismissed her as well. Up until last week, when Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma announced her resignation, a move that threatened to throw the country into political chaos, there wasn’t a news story in the nation that could rival Porzingis.

 

Porzingis left Latvia at the age of fifteen, to play in Spain for four years until he was old enough for the N.B.A. draft. (When the Knicks chose him fourth, this past summer, fans booed; another question Zack often hears from Latvian reporters: “What do you think about Knicks fans changing their minds about Porzingis?”) Perhaps because he didn’t stick around long, he never had a nickname in his home country. After Porzingis’s first few games with the Knicks, a campaign to create a nickname for him caught on in New York. “I’m loving when people stop and think about nicknames,” Puce said. “What kind of nicknames you are looking for? His surname is so unique.”

 

This may be another reason he’s gone without a nickname in Latvia: he didn’t need one. “Nobody else in Latvia has the same last name. There’s just five of us,” Martins Porzingis, thirty, said, referring to his two brothers, Kristaps and Janis, who is thirty-three, and their parents. “When you say ‘Porzingis,’ it’s not about somebody else.” When Martins flew back to Latvia with his parents after the N.B.A. draft, the border-control official checked their passports and then paused. “Congratulations on the draft,” he said.

 

Even Martins is surprised by Porzingis’s sudden success. His brother’s stats for Baloncesto Sevilla, the Spanish team he played for last season, were nothing special: eleven points and five rebounds in twenty-two minutes per game. “We were guessing that it would be great if he would get ten, fifteen minutes in his first season—that would be perfect,” Martins said. (Porzingis is averaging twenty-seven minutes per game, and his ten double-doubles are tied for first among rookies, with the No. 1 pick in the draft, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, whom Porzingis will face Wednesday night.) But the Porzingis brothers—both of whom played basketball professionally in Europe; Martins for two years, Janis for fourteen—did their part to get him ready. “Janis has schooled him really well,” Martins said. “Janis was making videos with N.B.A. players in interviews. He was cutting pieces out and teaching him how to answer the questions.” And so Kristaps, Martins said, “came to the N.B.A. prepared.”

 

Now, Porzingis is negotiating a sponsorship deal with Citadele Bank, in Latvia. He has already signed three deals in the States: with BodyArmor sports drink, Delta Air Lines (which will help with his family’s frequent trips across the Atlantic), and the Shifman Mattress company, which promised to make him a bed large enough to sleep on.

 

And despite the recent slump, few doubt the promise of what he has shown on the court so far. The popular Latvian newspapers Diena and Neatkariga continue to cover him. The sports-media publications Sporta Avize and sportacentrs.lv continue to feature him. Knicks fans continue to obsess over him. “It’s like Finland,” Puce said. “Finland created Nokia cell phones. Right now we feel like we have our Nokia. It’s Kristaps Porzingis.”

 

To read the article on their website, please click here.




Porzingis rap video - rated one of the top sports videos for 2015 - NY Daily News   Posted 12.18.15

Even before the height of Porzingsanity, a Latvian rap duo called Transleiteris made a song about Kristaps Porzingis right after he was drafted by the Knicks. It got a little attention. But then ESPN picked it up and it went viral. The NY Daily News on December 18, rated it one of the top sports video for 2015.

To see the video, please click here.




Kristaps Porzingis Is Learning How to Be the Hottest Athlete in New York - New York Magazine - December 15, 2015   Posted 12.15.15

By Reeves Wiedeman

 

Once upon a time, before he started answering to “Godzingis,” 6-year-old Kristaps Porzingis went to his first basketball practice in Liepaja, Latvia. It was an unremarkable event, in part because his first coach thought the young boy simply looked “pale and scared.” This was more or less what Knicks fans thought 13 years later, when the team used the fourth overall pick in June’s NBA Draft — the team’s highest since 1985, when it landed Patrick Ewing — to select a skinny 19-year-old Latvian who topped out at over seven feet but was untested by the American basketball system and unknown to fans beyond some grainy YouTube footage. Carmelo Anthony was reportedly “furious,” and when the pick was announced, ESPN’s cameras caught a young boy in Knicks gear erupting in a fit of convulsive tears. 

 

Six months later, the Latvian is the Knicks’ leading rebounder and shot-blocker, their second-leading scorer, and the brightest beacon of hope since Jeremy Lin stormed the Garden. In his first month on the court, he could be seen driving the length of the court, spinning past a defender, and dunking; making three-pointers; and leaping over the backs of grown men everyone believed would shove him around. As a gleeful Spike Lee put it, “He’s not scared of the brothers!” Last month, after Porzingis scored a career-high 29 points against Lin’s new team, the Daily News ran a photo of a roaring Porzingis next to a forlorn Lin and declared that the city had moved on and become gripped by a new fever: “Zingsanity.” At one point, Porzingis had the second-highest-selling replica jersey behind Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors all-galactic star. Phil Jackson, the team’s president and resident mystic, credited the rookie’s sudden rise to a “magical element,” which seemed to manifest itself in the fact that at the draft, he measured seven-foot-one, but after a month of dominant play, he was suddenly and universally listed at seven-foot-three, like some kind of Latvian beanstalk. By early December, ESPN was promoting Knicks games not with highlights of Carmelo but with a 30-second ad consisting almost exclusively of Porzingis highlights, set to a Latvian rap song:

 

    I notice the prettiest girl in the club

    and tell her I am your destiny

    But she says to me you are not so tall

    like Kristaps Porzingis

 

The bad news about being the hottest athletic celebrity in town is that everyone suddenly wants a piece of your time — autograph signings in Westchester, food drives in New Jersey — and on the first day of December, Porzingis’s presence was expected at the ribbon-cutting of a new school gymnasium near the Queens end of the F train. The good news, however, is that everyone has to wait for you. “We’re waiting for the tall-ass white boy,” one of the school’s employees said as he milled about the gym with various dignitaries from Madison Square Garden — Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers, Swin Cash of the Liberty — which had renovated the gym through its Garden of Dreams charitable foundation.

 

The tall-ass white boy eventually showed up, half an hour late and wearing loose gray sweats from head to toe, like a college student back at his parents’ house, which he sort of is: Porzingis, who turned 20 in August, lives with his mom and dad in an apartment in White Plains. His first brand ambassadorship came from a mattress factory in New Jersey, which comped him a 98-inch “Athletic King” mattress that takes up most of the floor space in his bedroom. His favorite restaurant is the Cheesecake Factory, which replaced his previous favorite, TGI Fridays. “They have millions of different cheesecakes,” he says with a shrug.

 

Anthony arrived at the gym alongside Porzingis, wearing a STAY MELO T-shirt and Timberland boots with the laces undone and the tongue sticking out. When Porzingis was 10 — still pale, a little less scared — he braided his hair into cornrows, like the ones Anthony was then sporting in his third year in the NBA. (Porzingis’s favorite player, Kobe Bryant, has been in the NBA for all but one year of Porzingis’s life.) The cornrows were just one of many unlikely quirks Knicks fans had discovered about Porzingis — before the draft, he posted a video of himself singing “Ridin’ Dirty” while driving an Audi — and as the Garden dignitaries filed in front of a group of kids from the school, Porzingis curled his left hand into the shape of a pistol, pointed at the kids, and offered an exaggerated wink, as if he had leapt straight out of an old Western. “From the New York Knicks, we have Carmelo Anthony,” the emcee said, to applause, before adding the main attraction, “And our new star, Kristaps Porzingis!”

 

There was a time — February 2012, to be specific — when Anthony would have bristled at someone else being called the star of his team. No one enjoyed Linsanity less than Anthony, who seemed to view Lin’s blip of success and subsequent adulation as unearned. But, at 31, he has embraced Porzingis as a near equal on the court — “He’s gonna lead this organization long after I’m retired” — and a welcome deflection of attention off it. “Kristaps is available,” Anthony said with a smile as television cameras passed him by en route to Porzingis, who was busy submitting to one of many selfie requests. These were easier attempted than performed: Anyone who tried to take one with Porzingis tried contorting an arm in various directions in an attempt to fit him into the frame, before inevitably handing the phone to someone else who could take enough of a step back to fit both normal and giant-size humans into the shot.

 

“Let me get KP!” Swin Cash said, pulling Porzingis away from an autograph seeker and into a photograph with Anthony and Lundqvist, all of whom left the gym before Porzingis. “KP” is the most succinct and least hyperbolic of the roughly 80 million nicknames that have been offered for Porzingis, as Knicks fans seek a pithier way to refer to him. “The one I don’t like is Zinger,” Porzingis said with a hard g that’s one of the few hitches in his lightly stilted English. Anthony insists on maintaining some level of seniority by using the abbreviated diminutive “Rook,” while Mike Francesa of WFAN told Porzingis he would like to call him “Special K.” (Porzingis didn’t like that one either.) Other suggestions include divine puns — Godzingis, Porzeesus — along with Zingis Khan, the Latviathan, and Porz Authority. He wears No. 6, and most of Brooklyn seems to prefer “Three 6 Latvia.”

 

The school visit was one of Porzingis’s first trips to the outer-boroughs, or anywhere in the city, for that matter. He spends most of his non-basketball time in White Plains with his parents and two older brothers, Janis and Martin, who also live with him. “It’s a whole family business,” Porzingis said after taking a seat away from the throng. “My brothers are out there making deals for me — Janis is my agent, Martin’s my manager — and Dad is analyzing every game.” His mother handles nutrition, when he is not at Cheesecake Factory, which requires regular trips to South Brooklyn’s Russian grocery stores for Latvian products. “We eat a lot of meat,” Porzingis said. “The trainers are okay with it.” (There will soon be no more home cooking: Visa requirements are forcing his parents to return to Latvia this month.)

 

Even across the Atlantic, Porzingis was aware of both Linsanity’s meteoric rise and its nearly as swift dissolution. “It’s definitely different, I hope,” he said of Zingsanity. “Because hopefully I can stay here for a long time.” For now, the PorzinGod is simply relishing his new converts. Recently, the father of the tearful boy from Draft Night approached Porzingis’s brother at a game. “That kid, he’s got my jersey now,” Porzingis said. “His dad got one, too.”

 

*This article appears in the December 14, 2015 issue of New York Magazine. To access the article online please click here.




Kristaps Porzingis: The Sensation Without a Nickname - WSJ, November 20, 2015   Posted 11.23.15

By Ben Cohen and Chris Herring – WALL STREET JOURNAL - Nov. 20, 2015.

 

He has only played in a dozen NBA games, but Kristaps Porzingis already is the league’s unlikeliest sensation, a star who has stirred a cynical basketball town and brought the New York Knicks all the way back to the brink of mediocrity.

 

There’s only one thing preventing Porzingis from becoming a household name: No one knows what that name should be.

 

“Kristaps Porzingis” is a mouthful of marshmallows. “Kristaps” isn’t much catchier. Porzingis doesn’t seem like a “Kris,” either. “Porzingis” is fun to say—Porzingis!—but the NBA is a first-name league. Even Knicks president Phil Jackson is simply Phil.

 

Porzingis needs a nickname. So now the search is on for a title worthy of the 7-foot-3 rookie from Latvia—and it’s exactly as absurd as it sounds. Nothing is too crazy for consideration. On social media, for example, one of the most popular suggestions so far has been “Godzingis.” It’s slightly ahead of “Porzingod.”

 

“Porzingod just rolls off the tongue,” Knicks center Robin Lopez said.

 

This isn’t just a conversation for fans. Porzingis’s teammates are getting in on it, too. Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn, for one, has hopped aboard the Godzingis train. “He’s got a clean look to him, you know what I’m saying?” he said Friday. “God was clean. So that’s what I call him.”

 

Then, to prove his point, he shouted “Godzingis!” and immediately had Porzingis’s attention. “See?” he said when Porzingis turned around. “He responds to that. So it works.”

 

Not everyone is anointing the 20-year-old Porzingis as a deity already. After all, Porzingis is still so new to the NBA that he hasn’t been on an extended road trip, and he’s only shooting 40.7% while averaging 12.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in 25 minutes of play, entering Friday’s game here. But he has a whole highlight reel of incredible putback dunks, and his obvious potential has given desperate fans something they haven’t felt in years: hope.

 

Some have taken to calling him “Three 6 Latvia,” which manages to riff on the hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia, his unusual long-range shooting ability, uniform number and native country. Other suggestions make slightly less sense. “Inspector Gadget,” said Knicks forward Kevin Seraphin. “If Inspector Gadget played basketball, he’d be in the NBA, for sure—and he’d probably look like Kris.”

 

The real problem with the search is that Porzingis already had a perfectly acceptable nickname bestowed upon him. There was only one catch: He couldn’t stand it.

 

Last year, when the Knicks were awful and Porzingis wasn’t yet a Porzingod, the coach of his Spanish professional team started calling him “Zinger,” and Porzingis wasn’t a fan. “He never outwardly opposed it,” said his Seville teammate Derrick Byars, “but I know he doesn’t like that nickname.”

 

Porzingis’s other teammates also knew. “But that was the only nickname we could think of,” said Ben Woodside. “So it stuck.”

 

Knicks fans were referring to him as the Zinger almost as soon as they stopped booing him on draft night. Porzingis has since said several times—including as recently as this week—that he doesn’t want to be known as Zinger. He prefers “KP.” He also likes “Kris.”

 

That’s what some teammates call him when they’re playing. Off the court, though, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony came up with a different idea. “Rook,” he said.

 

Anthony, who is widely known as “Melo,” was also known as “Rook” in his first NBA season with the Denver Nuggets in 2004. “Even to this day, whenever I see Kenyon Martin, wherever I’m at, he still calls me ‘Rook,’” he said. “KP is always going to be ‘Rook’ to me.”

 

The quest for a suitable nickname—one that Porzingis will embrace—has reached the point that it’s roping in foreign dignitaries. Daris Delins, New York’s honorary Latvian consul, said he’s planning to see Porzingis in person next month, when he brings U.S. soldiers to a Knicks game before their posting in Latvia. Until then, though, he’ll be busy thinking about how he should address him.

 

“I know others are doing it as well,” Delins said in an email. “I have asked my contacts in Latvia to see if he had a good nickname when he played there.”

 

It’s not like NBA fans don’t have experience coming up with monikers for new players. The Porzingis predicament actually happens almost every year in a league that has been invaded by foreign stars with tricky names. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose surname is so long that it doesn’t fit on scoreboards, goes by Giannis. But more people know him by his nickname: Greek Freak.

 

Knicks fans have taken it upon themselves to find something as perfect as Greek Freek. Only now are they beginning to realize that they may have been saying it all along.

 

“The name Porzingis is a nickname in itself,” said actor Michael Rapaport.

 

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