Dear Ms. President,
Dear Chairman of the Saeima,
Dear Members of the Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the eve of historic changes for Latvia I have been called to and I have taken the honour and responsibility to form a government the main task of which will be starting Latvia’s way within the European Union and NATO. Currently, we are facing an ambiguous situation: the doors of Europe are open and the host smiles, awaiting the new neighbours, but we are still hesitating in front of the doors. Folk wisdom says: do not change horses in mid-stream, and if they are still lost, find others to rescue the cart immediately.
Perhaps, it has a symbolic meaning that the Green and Farmers Union is called to steer the ship, known as Latvia, at this decisive moment. The Green movement, which has gained popularity in Europe and world as an advocate for protection and conservation of nature and for harmless development, and farmers, who have always been the base for survival of our people and country, are committed to take up the reins of the government in cooperation with the People’s Party, Latvia’s First Party and I hope – with support of all the other sensible members of the Parliament.
Upon call by Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, President of the State, I have formed a new government in the following composition:
Prime Minister, Acting Minister for Health: Indulis Emsis
Deputy Prime Minister, Acting Minister for Transport: Ainārs Šlesers
Minister for Defence: Atis Slakteris
Minister for Foreign Affairs: Rihards Pīks
Minister for Finance: Oskars Spurdziņš
Minister for the Interior: Ēriks Jēkabsons
Minister for Education
and Science: Juris Radzevičs
Minister for Agriculture: Mārtiņš Roze
Minister for Welfare: Dagnija Staķe
Minister for Justice: Vineta Muižniece
Minister for Environment: Raimonds Vējonis
Minister for Culture: Helēna Demakova
Minister for Regional Development
and Local Governments: Andrejs Radzevičs
Minister for Special Assignments
for Children and Family Affairs: Ainars Baštiks
Minister for Special Assignments
for Society Integration Affairs: Nils Muižnieks
I have also organised production of government’s Declaration, for which support has been confirmed by signatures of all the coalition partners – People’s Party, Latvia’s First Party and Green and Farmers Union.
Formation of this government occurs at a complicated moment:
- By now Latvia has not fulfilled all of its homework for accession to the EU and NATO;
- Latvia is still not ready to successfully attract and allocate all the financial assistance offered by the EU;
- Latvia faces rising of prices causing real headache to our people and having significant impact on the low-income families;
- Previous government failed to ensure national tolerance and mutual respect in the process of extending use of the Latvian language in the education system, which is an issue of high importance for Latvia;
- We have observed over-centralisation of power leading to incapability of state and municipal officials to undertake responsibility for their decisions. This situation has caused unnecessary tension in public administration.
Currently, we have formed a government, which in a record short time is to resolve the above-mentioned issues and many other problems not yet identified.
This government will consolidate the right-wing forces, not split them.
This government will be a people-friendly, environment-friendly and nature-friendly government.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All these matters is reflected in out Declaration. It is extensive and elaborated and available for your consideration.
We urge all the deputies of the Saeima and the new government to devotedly work in order to make up for what we have to do.
No doubt, it is quite convenient and fascinating to group each other in light and dark forces, to aimlessly cultivate ideas of various rivals, or to frighten us and the society with secret plots, in order to justify failures and uninterruptedly engage in endless court plots instead of governing the country in a practical and sound way.
Now Latvia can no longer afford hesitation. Here I do not mean any abstract and lofty matters. I speak about recent changes in the food market being painful to the people of Latvia, especially to the low-income families. Sometimes such negative developments are associated with our accession to the European Union.
However, let’s be honest and admit that reasons are somewhat else, they are related to the many unfulfilled assignments of the previous government with regard to 1 May this year when Latvia takes up full responsibility of a Member State of the European Union. The rise in prices is also caused by increase in electricity and gas tariffs, as well as by changes in the Euro rates. Our current non-readiness to attract and allocate the EU funds available for Latvia, a major part of which is specially allocated for amortisation of the consequences of the economy transformation process, is unjustifiable frivolity. Aligning industry in compliance with the EU market requirements is mainly performed by the manufacturers themselves. Thus, addressing the relevant EU issues is a top-priority task, for at the same time it will also contribute to increased prosperity of the people of Latvia.
It is clear that our government will also continue and develop fight with corruption. We are going to develop such a programme, which not just combats corruption as a consequence of previous activities but also prevents those pre-conditions that are needed for this social evil to advance. One of the basic principles will be ensuring real and not just theatrical openness at all levels of public administration in order to make the society the most important figure in allies’ fight with corruption. For only in case intolerance towards corruption is not just a political slogan but becomes a necessity for the whole society, the fight may have actual results.
Sustainable economic development and national economic interests will be the central elements of government’s policy. However, this requires deep understanding of the basic pre-conditions for efficient economy. It is a platitude that normal and productive economic development is only possible in a country with political and legal stability.
What is political and legal stability? First of all, it means that politicians themselves respect the Satversme (Constitution) of our country and its democratic order.
It means that the executive power respects the legislator.
It means that the State respects sovereignty rights of local governments and strictly complies with the principle of subsidiarity.
It means that the law is observed at all, even the upper levels of power.
It means that justice is strictly independent of political power.
Of course, it may seem strange that today, almost fourteen years upon declaration of independence we have to stress these seemingly self-evident things as basic principles of the new government. However, political passions of the last year have questioned almost every of the above-mentioned basic rules of democracy.
Political stability means political peace that respects necessity of building general consensus of the society for any political initiative at the national level.
Arrogance of the state power and reluctance to engage in comprehensive political dialogue by involving all the social partners have raised political concerns. This is the question of health care reforms and liquidation of the small hospitals. This is the question of the approaches chosen for the local governments reform – liquidation of pagasti* and making services more remote to the local people. This is the question of preparation and explanation of the necessary education reforms.
Unfortunately, largely due to failures of the state power today we face the most dangerous aggressive opposition of two groups of the society based on ethnic differences. Amendments to the Law on Education undoubtedly aimed at strengthening integration of the society currently have become a tool that actually splits people. And there is no fault in the Law itself. The situation is caused by activities inspired outside Latvia and by the work style of the previous government. Thus, both parties lacked sound, purposeful dialogue and just exchanged high-sounding slogans. The main thing for us to understand – there are no alternatives for integration of the society and strengthening of the Latvian language as the state language.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have attained out external aims – just in some weeks’ time we are joining the European Union and NATO. These events are fulfilment of the dream of many Latvian generations to ensure secure and irreversible independence of our country. But today we have to set other priorities – by using the opportunities offered in the European market we must rapidly enhance national welfare and reach the European living standard during the next decade. For this purpose, it is insufficient to ensure the current growth rates of the gross domestic product we boast of. We need not evolutionary but revolutionary steps leading to increased growth of the economy.
Which is the central resource for country’s economic development? For us as a right-wing party there is only one answer possible – these are Latvian businessmen, both small- and medium sized businesses. I say, we have to inspire the Latvian people to go into business. Attitude of the state power towards business needs to be changed remarkably. The state power has not just its repressive functions in order to collect taxes and punish businessmen for their mistakes. For the businesses make the value added tax budget, and not politicians. The State must become a partner of the business sector, especially in the regions of special support status where creation of new job places will be one of our priorities.
Another priority needed for ensuring sustainable economic development – favourable management in order to encourage entrepreneurship. For this purpose we are going to exploit all the opportunities opened to the EU Member States, especially those supporting business in the rural regions of Latvia. Rural people have been and will remain the guarantee for our national values. The Latvian individual farm is a household friendly to the global environment and humanity in general. And here I should stress: if due to some mistaken European integrity we will hesitate to support and promote our fair businesses, growth and strength of the national capital, then we might become a colonial country, which allows merciless exploitation of its natural wealth – these are, first of all, forests and entrails of the earth. I urge us to restore control over our forests and natural resources.
Our foreign policy also needs to be changed in order to set protection of the national economic interests as one of its top priorities. Accession to the European Union does not imply that our economic geography should be limited to the European continent only. It is just the other way round – now we must use the status of the EU Member State to securely seek partners outside Europe. In this context we must consider geography of new embassies and strengthening of representation of our economic interests in the existing embassies. We are also still too poor to afford non-representation in international economic exhibitions. No one will take care of us if we do note care for ourselves. Accession to the European Union is in a way approval to our full age, which implies not just acknowledgement but also ability to take full responsibility for us.
Although my government is called a minority government, I should note that perhaps due to this fact the Declaration is very thought-out and elaborated addressing wide interest groups of people and specifying agreements on realisation of such tasks, which are based on significant political and social consensus. It may sound as a paradox but a minority government cannot afford to become a political representative of a small group. It has to represent majority of the people for only then it is able to ensure sound actual majority in the Parliament. I am convinced that it will not be political rhetoric, which laid obstacles to formation of a right-wing majority government, but actual work of our government, which will promote and even guarantee that this government becomes a majority government in the nearest future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Latvia is known in the world as a country of almost untouched land, blue sea and green forest inhabited by hospitable, active, fair, strong and wise people which have gone through many hardships.
It is my conviction that by joint efforts we will make the world to recognise us as Europe’s ‘Green Land’ with prosperous, happy and harmonious people.
* Pagasts – a local territorial administration unit of Latvia, smaller than districts.