Latvia’s current Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss still has not been told the reasons behind the Prime Minister’s request for his resignation. In addition to that, during the Tuesday closed meeting of the government, Matiss offered to voluntarily step down if the government fails to make a decision in the airBaltic matter.
In his interview to Rīta panorama programme on Friday, 6 November, Matiss mentioned that reasons behind the request for his resignation may be related to the upcoming procurement of new trains, the selection of a new head for Latvijas Dzelzceļš, the scandal in Riga Freeport or even the parting of ways with Prudentia.
He warned when discussions were being held about stopping cooperation with Prudentia that this decision could lead to his resignation. «I didn’t take it seriously. The government had no objections against the proposal to cease cooperation with Prudentia, but now that I say this I believe any conspiracy theory fits, because I am not aware of the Prime Minister’s reasons behind her request for my resignation,» – said Matiss.
He added that Laimdota Straujuma has yet to explain her reasons for wanting him removed from the post of Transport Minister of Latvia. The only information Matiss knows comes from news reports. «I still have not received any additional information [about his resignation] from Straujuma,» – he said.
Matiss explained that a Transport Minister’s main duty is doing everything to make sure the industry’s companies have a chance to develop. If a company ends up in financial trouble because of the minister’s work, the person in charge should be prepared to resign if it helps resolve the situation. «Now things are completely the opposite – the Prime Minister takes full responsibility for what happens in airBaltic, LDz and Pasažieru vilciens because dismissal of the minister leads to the Prime Minister taking over control of the ministry and the industry,» – said Matiss.
He reports that ministers could have refused to express support for any of Transport Ministry’s proposed options during the Tuesday government meeting. Had that been the case, it would have been necessary to cancel airBaltic’s aircraft procurement project. «The only thing I demanded during the meeting was getting at least one decision made, because the decision-making process is not something that can be put off easily.»
Matiss admits that at the Tuesday meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers he himself offered to step down if no decisions are made in the airBaltic matter. However, Straujuma declined his offer.
The next day after the last Cabinet of Ministers meeting, Straujuma requested Matiss’ resignation from the post of Transport Minister of Latvia. The reason for the resignation request lies in the minister’s delays, reluctance to report progress in the situation at airBaltic and lack of any strategic vision for the future of the airline.
As it is known, Latvian Cabinet of Ministers has decided to approve the investor found for airBaltic by Prudentia – German businessman Ralf Dieter Montag-Girmes. This was confirmed by Latvian Transport Minister in his talk with journalists.
Montag-Girmes’ offer provides an investment of EUR 52 million in the airline. The state would invest EUR 80 million.