«It is pitiful that the person chosen as the brightest representative of Latvia’s political world is none other than Aivars Lembergs,» TVNET was told by Girts Kristovskis, who intends to compete in upcoming municipal elections to become mayor of Ventspils.
He told the portal that he had recently read a news article on how US News and World Report put Latvia on the 60th place among 80 other countries. ‘What I found most curious was that in the ‘power’ criterion Latvia was put last – 80th spot. This shows just how low in the eyes of residents of other countries the reputation of Latvian political elite truly is! It is an independent assessment of the quality and order of Latvia’s administration,’ says the candidate.
He notes that The New York Times mentioned Lembergs not because of his positive characteristics, but rather his populist views, questionable wealth, corruption and thirst for power. This means Latvia’s image on the world stage is largely formed from individuals of such calibre. «Millions of people around the world will then read that. Of course they would put Latvia in last place after getting such an impression! Everything is that simple. Latvia’s reputation suffers because of that! Estonia’s reputation, on the other hand, is based off Toomas Hendrik Ilves or Kersti Kaljulaida! If Latvia had such politicians, we never would have been put in last place».
Kristovskis notes that he is in favour of honest attitude towards work and fellow man.
«Unfortunately, my home city of Ventspils is ruled by a power-hungry regime.»
Ventspils candidate emphasizes that the fact that the head of the city is on the accused bench does no favours on local society. «It’s not about the capabilities of Latvia’s court justice system, but rather how could a good leader even end up in such a situation in the first place!?… The city needs serious changes,» Kristovskis told the portal.
He says that in 1988 Ventspils residents took it to the streets, demanding the city to be made rich, free and happy. «What do we see now? Cargo volumes decline and there is a conflict between the head of the city and companies working at the port. Some companies that form the backbone of the city’s economy and welfare are being intentionally limited, faced with unequal attitude, have their development stifled and the city’s administration does not help them attract cargoes. It seems Ventspils’ current head is happy to see companies undergo difficulties. This is happening in spite of the fact that businesses working at the port are some of the largest employers and taxpayers in Ventspils and Latvia.»
«We see more and more that Lembergs’ decisions serve not so much Ventspils’ interests, as they do Riga’s interests.»
As an example, Kristovskis said that refusal of the railway electrification project in Ventspils direction and irresponsible attitude towards railway tariffs will make the city non-competitive for transit in the future. This will likely lead the city to a major decrease in available jobs, making sure the city of tomorrow has no future.
«But that’s not the only problem. All this time Ventspils has been living off EU funds and different funding amounts provided by port companies. Other economic indexes – the ones that reflect the quality of administration, the leader’s accomplishments – remain average when compared to other Latvian cities. In any case, they do not reflect any excellence or exceptional characteristics of the current government. I believe Ventspils has had enormous opportunities and funding options over the past 30 years. Unfortunately, most of them had been squandered. I shouldn’t even have to mention the charges raised against Lembergs over the years. Up until now Ventspils has been under wasteful, unreasonable and near-sighted management. What will the city do once Ventspils municipality continues to collapse because of lack of proper policy and reputation and wasting EU funds gives nothing?»
Kristovskis told the portal that Ventspils is in dire need of new management that would work in the interest of Ventspils, not Riga.
Kristovskis explains that he as Ventspils resident, whose family has been actively involved in different processes over many generations, is sad to watch how cheap it is to buy the happiness of local residents.
«Lembergs invites you to watch fireworks that cost more than what is offered in Riga, but he does not invite anyone else to benefit from a privatization of some good company.’
‘Of course, there is no point in moralizing and speaking about ethics in the city’s administration. Even The New York Times makes fun of this. This is why we have decided to consolidate our strength to offer an alternative to residents for the city’s development that would be based on trustworthy administration, democratic values, honest competition and high business culture! We began preparing changes for Ventspils in spring 1988 and we had even accomplished much! Why not repeat that again after 29 years?» Kristovskis comments.
He says that he has his own consultancy firm. Kristovskis cooperates with five Latvian and foreign companies. «I am a representative of one of Norway’s largest companies – Konsberg – in Latvia. Soon it will be one year since I have begun consulting Ventbunkers. This company contacted me because we had crossed paths while representing Ventspils’ HansaMatrix and EuroLCDs and interest of this group of IT companies.»
«While working with Ventbunkers, I met with Rudolf Meroni. After speaking with him, I was forced to agree that the current way the port city is being managed by Lembergs has effectively paralysed the city’s development. There is only one opinion this city – Lembergs’ opinion.»
Kristovskis emphasizes that there are no other opinions. «Because of that, the city depends on the mood of the current head of the city, his talent or lack thereof. It is no surprise that he has lost countless associates. Lembergs does not really know people. If he can afford to publicly make fun of Mr. Meroni, one should ask what the Swiss lawyer could have done to earn his scorn? I haven’t looked anywhere specifically, nor have I ever heard Meroni publicly using any offensive statements against Lembergs or his associates. Those two are individuals from two incomparable cultures and reputations.»
«I have gotten the impression that Mr. Meroni wishes to form practical cooperation with Ventspils municipal administration. Businesses under his management are interested in continuing their activities at Ventspils port. There is a kind of ABC truth – the more complicated the geopolitical, global business process, the more closely the municipality, port authority and stevedores and other involved sides should work with one another. It’s that simple. Together they help create work for local residents. They pay taxes to Ventspils budget. What we see now is that much of this vision is lacking. I see that Mr. Meroni is unhappy with this. He stands in favour of civilized Ventspils development. It would be a major step towards raising the freedom and self-esteem of Ventspils residents.»
«Restoring the reputation of the city’s government would help increase Ventspils’ influence in overall processes in the Baltic Sea region, as well as return cargoes and bring in new ones, which seems unlikely because of the current state of the city’s reputation. At the same time, I would like to ad that such projects like the High Technology Centre and other businesses are the correct approach to resolve this problem. But there is one question – why has so little been achieved over the course of these 30 years, considering the resources available to the city? Why do only some businesses remain open and others have disappeared from Ventspils? I think it is possible to apply more efficient management and better profile education capabilities of local residents so that businesses of different size would be able to work and find capable workers.»
«What we see now is that Ventspils’ youngest generation of residents has limited options for the realization of their creativity.»
Kristovskis notes that the team of four political powers is hard at work developing the city’s development programme. «At the beginning of April we intend to present our programme to residents of Ventspils. We involve specialists and locals in the platform’s development process.»
He reminds that Ventpils stands at a crossroads. «The state and residents have to choose if Ventspils continues living in the plague era and be reduced to a ghost town or start working to salvage reputation and restore Ventspils’ lost economic potential. I have everything I need – experience in state administration, a global economic vision and Master’s degree in engineering, law and business management to accomplish it all. Our team has a comprehensive vision and responsible attitude towards society’s goals and the city’s development.»