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Opinion: Latvian government still uses and spends the «fruits» of Unity’s labour

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«When Laimdota Straujuma was Latvia’s prime minister, Unity did everything it could to make sure the country’s budget was positive. Now that Māris Kučinskis is prime minister, the government keeps spending and using everything Unity has accomplished so far. It is as though we had built a house from the ground up, but now someone else has settled to live there. Unity’s mistakes let this happen – we lost the government because of internal intrigues. Now the fruits of our labour are being used by Kučinskis’ government,» said Unity’s Saeima faction leader Hosams Abu Meri in an interview to BNN.

The deputy believes the Union of Greens and Farmers became the prime minister’s party in a time when Unity had already finished resolving Latvia’s main economic problems. «In the post-crisis years, our objective was sorting Latvia’s national economy from a fiscal perspective. No mistakes were committed during Dombrovskis or Straujuma’s rule. It was exactly the opposite, in fact. They had managed to improve Latvia’s economy. Their government worked to secure 2% of GDP for defence, good indexation for pensions and increase of wages. During the post-crisis period, Unity had to do everything to improve the economic situation in the country. There was no time for us to enjoy the fruits of our labour. It’s like in business – no profits in the first two years – investments go into the company. You work day and night, waiting for the profits to come in a couple of years. In the years when we were in charge of the government, we worked hard to improve the situation. Then came Kučinskis’ government, which positions itself as ‘good people who give’. I’m not saying they came because they wanted – it was Unity’s mistake. It should be said, however, that we did everything we could during reforms – we opposed multiple of UGF’s unreasonable decisions. Had we not done that, Latvia’s economy would have surely suffered a catastrophe,» says Abu Meri.

He reminds that there is a risk of fiscal space in Latvia becoming negative this year. «Let’s be honest – if Kučinskis’ government had not made two very important reforms – first was the transition to only Latvian language in education, which was realized thanks to Education Minister Kārlis Šadurskis’ strong backbone, and second was finding finances for healthcare – I would say the government’s work would have consisted only from performing basic administrative duties. Kučinskis is a calm prime minister and can put conflicts to rest. There is one coalition party that is particularly hard to deal with – the National Alliance.»

As for upcoming Saeima elections, Abu Meri mentions that his political party is prepared to form the government and find common ground with UGF and NA, but not Harmony. «Unity sees no way to work in the same coalition as Harmony. Any coalition proposal that includes Harmony will receive a no from Unity,» said the deputy.

As for the drop in Unity’s ratings, Abu Meri says it did not happen solely because of Solvita Āboltiņa. «Many believe that she is the only person who created problems for Unity. She is Unity’s founded. She dedicated her life to politics – a strong and smart woman. She made mistakes – multiple times, in fact. She admitted as much. But she wasn’t the one who created internal disputes – there were others.»

Commenting on Edvards Smiltēns’ decision to leave the party and join Latvian Association of Regions, Abu Meri says: «It seems to me that Mr. Smiltēns chose the wrong political tactic when leaving. He changed his views. In Unity he was someone who supported the Istanbul Convention and the proposal to allow women to donate eggs. After joining LAR, however, he decided to cease supporting them. Such a change of opinion is very conservative and anti-European. Had he remained in Unity, he would have become the faction leader in spite of internal conflicts.»

After suffering rapid rating decline after the last Saeima elections, Unity announced the plans to form New Unity with other parties for the 13th Saeima elections.

Abu Meri says New Unity will include Unity and parties from Tukums, Kuldiga, Valmiera and Vidzeme. Talks are planned in regards to commencement of cooperation with Latgale and Jekabpils parties. «We will become a political power that will be represented in all of Latvia’s regions. The association will work on a national and regional level.»

The deputy says that the main objective is fighting for pro-European values. «Through regional parties we will be able to reach out to every person in this country – improve their welfare, security, and continue increasing wages and other important benefits,» the deputy comments on the party’s objectives.

When asked how Unity will differ from LAR, because this party also focuses on regional policy a lot, Abu Meri says: «We are completely different. LAR is a conservative party: while they focus on regional matters, they forget about national ones. If we look at what they have done on a national level, we will see nothing. They are unlikely to do anything there.» Abu Meri believes this political party has populist views. «Their opposition play with legislative drafts is very populist – from their legally incorrect proposals to unclear funding sources,» he says, adding that this political force works well on a municipal level, but lacks any vision for the country’s development.

When asked what Unity should do to recover, Abu Meri says: «Unity has to work very convincingly. Our faction no longer has any intrigues to pull it down. This matter has already been discussed within our ranks – we need a capable team with members that would respect and support one another. Our plan is developing goals and explaining to residents how we intend to reach them in the next four years,» says Abu Meri.


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