11.02.2016
Ministru prezidents

The candidate for the Prime Minister’s post Māris Kučinskis address to Latvian parliament

Honourable Speaker of the Saeima,

Dear Members of the Parliament,

Excellences,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by expressing gratitude to the President for the honour and confidence placed in me, by inviting to form a government. I wish the President fast recovery, and I hope that our cooperation will be successful and will serve for prosperity of the state of Latvia.

I am not going to criticize harshly the previous government and immediately announce prompt revolutionary changes. At present, our country does not need any turmoil. Latvia requires clear, precisely planned reforms to be quickly implemented in a number of sectors. We must not admit that the words ‘standstill’ or ‘stagnation’ are used to describe the situation in Latvia. It is a paradoxical fact that the reforms in education, health, economy and other areas have been discussed for years, but the decisions are not taken. This suggests that the executive power has been lacking the political will or opportunity to take courageous and, at the same time, acutely necessary decisions. As a result, we are late. We are late as the country. We get stuck in bureaucratic details and desire to please everyone. By not making decisions, we reduce our international competitiveness, promote the departure of the Latvian population and hence depopulation of entire counties. We are only contemplating, and through our inactivity encouraging breakdown of foundations of our state.

However, this is not a criticism of government led by Laimdota Straujuma. Definitely not. Causes of the problem are to be found much earlier. This happened when the parties forming the coalition agreed, for the first time, on the scope of executive power or distribution of ministries and isolated them from one another. Consequently, the government's common objectives became unattainable. The highest point in this feudal model was a call for the parties "to awake beasts in their ministers who would fight for the budget". The government as an arena of political legionnaires rather than a team working towards common goals. The government should be a team that works for the good of society as a whole rather than for the good of different interest groups, which are more or less close to political elite.

Dear Members of the Parliament!

There is no tradition in the politics of Latvia to thank the retiring government, but now I honestly want to express gratitude to Laimdota Straujuma! Thank you for your courage, willingness to take responsibility. Thank you for your humanity and a sense of duty. There are lessons we can learn from her.

Dear Members of the Parliament!

The Declaration of the new government defines five priorities:
strengthening the national economy;
national security and national identity;
improving the demographic situation;
reforms in education and science and
health care reforms.

It is impossible to put these priorities in hierarchical order, by saying that one of them is the first while the other is the fifth. No. Success in one area depends on what is happening in the second or the third. We will be able to speak about accomplishments in national economy when we will be certain about the success of reforms in education, demography, health care. We also need to be confident about national security. Security is and will remain a cornerstone of our government's policy. My government is not going to fill the ministerial posts; the government aims to achieve more rapid economic growth, to implement reforms in education and healthcare. These are the issues which, figuratively speaking, are "boiling" on the government's table. They should not be put aside by pretending that there is something more important. Not anymore.

Dear Members of the Parliament!

 The Declaration signed by all coalition partners does not contain a proposal to focus on interests of individual sectors or ministries but on the common goal, which may not be monopoly of one ministry. I know that this offer differs significantly from the relationship model of coalition parties that existed in Latvia in the past twenty years or more. By fighting against each other, we are losing our political power and increasing electorate's nihilism in relation to the parties.

Dear Members of the Parliament!

It is possible to tackle demographic issues only through the prism of economic development. Benefits are important, and yet there must be the environment that makes an individual feel stable and capable of forecasting the future of the family in the long run. Housing, competitive salary, access to infrastructure, educational opportunities, health care and security. This is how the priorities of our government and an abstract, but, at the same time, a real family coincide.

A few words about education. The demographic situation is a cruel advisor. Latvia cannot afford a student - teacher ratio of 1: 3. We do not have resources. There is a solution - optimization of the school network. Thus, the state and local governments have to provide the opportunity to attend primary school as close to home as possible, and should take care of safe transport to access remote educational institutions.

 Dear Members of the Parliament!

This way, I could analyse one sector after another, but I do not think it's worth doing, as you all are well aware of many urgent things to be done. 

There is the government's declaration, there are ministers, and there are tasks. I wish that this government was afraid of unfulfilled promises and unaccomplished tasks. I hope for courage of the coalition partners - the Unity, the National Alliance, the Greens' and Farmers' Union to be in this government! And for my own as well! The opposition, we appreciate you for being alongside.

I call on the Saeima to support the new government! 

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