Latviski English По-русски
Monday 19.03.2018 | Name days: Jāzeps

Rudolf Meroni: The more Ventspils flourishes, the happier I shall be!

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RURudolf Meroni! Who are you? – Ostap Bender, international swindler, or the biggest employer and tax payer in Ventspils?

It depends on whom you ask. Aivars Lembergs has called me with different names and continues to do so, using “flashy” words and descriptors, but time will surely put everything in its proper place and the people of Ventspils will find out, who is who, sooner or later.  It’s virtually impossible to hide the truth in the long term. At the same time, facts are facts, and even Aivars Lembergs will find it hard to deny – Together, the companies I lead are the biggest employers and tax payers in Ventspils. Ventbunkers even got a certificate of merit for that from the City Council of Ventspils. (laughing).

It’s no secret that you are wealthy enough to enjoy life in Switzerland or in any other place in the world. Why are you getting involved in Ventspils city activities?

My professional activities take place in several countries – Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Russia, Ukraine and also Latvia. The businesses I am involved have partners from different countries. Ventspils is one of the important destinations. The companies, I lead are the biggest tax payers and the biggest employers in Ventspils, and I am very much honoured to do something for this country, this city and its inhabitants.

Of course, it would have been easier, as you say, to enjoy a carefree life in Switzerland or elsewhere in the world, but that’s my nature, I want to do something positive. A lot of people depend on me, and I feel a very serious responsibility for the future of these people. For the fact that they will have the money for living, have the necessary means, for not going away from this city, but will continue to maintain the traditions of this city, its values, and to pass them on to future generations.

Have you met the employees of your companies in person, not just the company management?

Of course. Recently there was one such meeting in our Ventspils Business Centre, where I had the opportunity to meet with company representatives, my colleagues from all levels. From dockers to top management. It’s important for me to feel them, to hear them, to listen to these people’s needs.

There’s a reason why every year we channel considerable amounts of money – over the years they have already added up to millions – to different social, sports and other developmental areas. Currently, our companies of the Ventspils port have created an association, the Ventspils uzplaukumam [For the flourishing of Ventspils], where the resources are intended for social projects in order to support the people of Ventspils as efficiently as possible in various aspects of their daily needs.

But the entrepreneur’s goal is, after all, to make a profit. And the bigger the profit, the better the goal is achieved. Why are you channelling such noteworthy funds to charity?

There is a saying – people don’t work without money and people don’t work for money. If our goal was just to make a profit, then what’s the profit for, if the person cannot be happy in the process? This is my conviction, and that’s why I try to live while sharing with others. In my age, I have come to the conclusion that there are bigger values in life than profit and things that money can buy. A saying comes to mind – you are truly rich if you have valuables that money cannot buy. These human relationships, in my opinion, are much bigger values than simple profit in money terms.

It is no secret that you have sided with the opponents of the current mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs. If one of Lembergs’ supporters comes to your organization asking for aid, will you help them, too?

It’s not that I have consciously turned against someone. It has just so happened in life that Aivars Lembergs and I have different paths, we have different values, which we are following and try to share. Aivars Lembergs likes calling Ventspils a city with a tomorrow. Tomorrow, of course, shall come regardless of his will, the question is – what kind of tomorrow? Certainly, one cannot deny that Ventspils is a well-groomed city, with paved streets, installed cows, planted flowers – yes, that is certainly so, and it’s thanks to Aivars Lembergs. But the question is, what else could have been done, and what are the unrealized and missed opportunities. This is the issue whereupon our views go in different directions. Lembergs is an adept of the authoritarian management style, which in itself is not bad, if the person possesses the necessary personal and professional qualities. In the history of mankind, there are many known examples of excellent rulers, men and women, whose authoritarian era led to prosperity and their citizens lived inspired and happy lives. There is a saying – power attracts the worst and corrupts the best. Power should be only gained by those who are ready to bow in order to take it and would only use it in service to others. As for the question, would we help our opponents, yes, I can say that over the years we have donated and paid in duties to Ventspils municipality and various related organizations, structures and funds more than one hundred million Euros. It would be interesting to carry out an audit at some point and see for what purposes this money has been used and what Ventspils and its inhabitants got out of all this money.

You mean, the companies working in the port have paid?

Yes, the companies lead by me and working in the port have paid to Ventspils municipality. And then afterwards, Lembergs acted with this money, and those were his choices, what he did with it. Looking at his official declaration I’d like to say that Lembergs and his associates could hardly complain of a lack of funding or support in regards to them. So not only could we support our opponents, we have been actively doing this for years. Perhaps even naively hoping that something may change, because we realize that peace feeds and unrest destroys. And it is in our interests also to see peace in Venstpils, there would be a greater capacity for cooperation. But there are some limits – both morally ethical and dictated by common sense, beyond which, if cooperation is no longer possible, then it’s impossible to continue. We know Lembergs, is a public person, and, seeing his nature, at least until now we have NOT succeeded in achieving a cooperation model which would be simultaneously effective and corresponding to the values and criteria of morals and ethics, which we try to follow.

Have you personally met the leader of a joint multi-party list leader Girts Valdis Kristovskis?

Of course, I have met him. The last time was quite recently.

Do you support his political activities?

We support everyone with whom we have the same mission and values. In the beginning you asked me – what am I doing in Ventspils, and I have to say, sometimes I doubt it myself. I have a certain mission awareness, an inner conviction – if God has given me the opportunity to change something and to act, I cannot not use it. Whatever we do – in our companies, in the organization, in personal actions, I try to do everything so that Ventspils becomes a flourishing city, where happy people live in peace and harmony. And if Girts Valdis Kristovskis or any other person of Ventspils is ready to join this mission, we are very happy. We are used to living in a world of relative values – what is good for me may not be good for someone else, but there are also absolute values and incontestable truths. I would like to think that the road we have chosen is the right one in its essence. Because doing good things is the true human nature. Only by doing good things, we can be truly happy. I am truly sorry that over more than 25 years in Ventspils, I’m not the only one who hasn’t succeeded in collaborating with Aivars Lembergs. So much time, energy and resources have been wasted over the years in these destructive processes, trying to deflect Lembergs’ constant attacks and to not allow a total looting of Ventspils. Had we been able to channel these resources and energy into creating something positive, then today Latvia would be the leader among the Baltic countries in terms of welfare, and perhaps human happiness also. There would certainly have been fewer people who left than what we have seen as of today. For me, Latvia is an enigma of sorts – I truly cannot comprehend how can it be that the head of a municipality, who is involved and accused in so many criminal cases in Latvia, is also a popular politicians in the same country. There are obvious things, but people either choose not to see them or, which is much worse, the way Lembergs lives and works is acceptable to them! I believe and hope that it will not last forever. Something has to change.

Latvia’s 100th anniversary is approaching, and it is a frontier of sorts. Anniversaries are usually the moment when people look back – how have they lived until now, and how are they going to live from there on. Sometimes a lot of things are better seen from a distance rather than living in the midst of them. As a Swiss citizen, I have the opportunity to compare the way things are done in Latvia and in Switzerland. In Switzerland, we have three main ethnicities – Italian, French, and German. And we have all the prerequisites to hate and fight among ourselves. But for at least two hundred years, we have succeeded in coexisting in a positive way, and in channelling our energy towards the development of our common country, our common nation. This is what I wish for the people of Latvia – to design and develop a capacity for cooperation in a high relationship culture. I believe and hope that the people who have currently joined and will join our mission in Ventspils could be a sort of a new beginning which could subsequently inspire people all over Latvia. I think that the greatest challenge for the people of Ventspils and of all of Latvia is to learn to cooperate in such way which we can characterize as a high relationship culture.

And yet instead of this cooperation there are frequent negativity-based campaigns launched in Latvia. One of those is currently aimed against you…

Everyone shares what they have. I have tried to tell you a moment ago – unfortunately, over the years we have not succeeded in investing our energy, resources, and, most importantly, time, in such a way that would be aimed at this mutual cooperation, tolerance, a desire to listen and heed each other in the name of something good. I am referring to myself and other people in Ventspils, and of course, to Aivars Lembergs. A human is a being that rarely changes. And currently there is a continuation of the same approach which I, at least, have observed for more than twenty years – lies, half-truths, threats, intimidation, black PR. Of course, one can blame the US, NATO, Soros, Meroni, Rinkevics, the prosecutor general for all one’s woes – in a word, blame everyone, but oneself. That’s is this person’s choice – how does he live, with what values. I have my own choice. I will at least try very hard to share other values, other qualities. I am very glad that we are succeeding in this in Ventspils despite all obstacles created for our companies. We can still make a profit, and we are happy to share with the people of Ventspils – by giving them jobs and by helping and supporting the people of this wonderful city in various ways.

So you believe that change is possible?

That’s the way of the world is working. Already Heraclitus said: Everything flows, everything changes. Ventspils – this beautiful place by the Baltic sea – has existed for more than 750 years already, and we see that things have been changing with time here. A time will come when there will be no Lembergs and no Meroni here, there will be new generations, new people and new opportunities. It’s just a pity, if we won’t succeed in using all the God-given opportunities in our own time. As I have mentioned – the longer I live in this world, the clearer and stronger I realize that. I truly have a great desire to leave something good after myself, in Ventspils and in the world. The more there are bright-eyed people of Ventspils, the more of them are coming home and the more families reconnect, the more this city shall flourish, and the happier I shall be.


Leave a reply

EU agrees to UK's transition period before Brexit

In a breakthrough in the Brexit talks, the UK gave its consent on Monday to an agreement with the European Union that a tangible border would not be established between British-ruled Northern Ireland and Ireland to have the bloc agree to retain most EU advantages for close to two years leaving the union.

Latvia experiences one of the most rapid export rises among EU member states in January

In January 2017, Latvia experienced one of the most rapid export increases among EU member states when compared to the same month of the previous year, according to data published by Eurostat on Monday, 19 March.

Russian citizens living in Latvia provided more support to Putin than citizens in Russia

During the presidential elections in Russia last week, support provided to President Vladimir Putin by Russian citizens living in Latvia turned out considerably larger than it was in Russia.

Every third illegally downloaded software programme – infected with a virus

Data compiled by International Data Corporation shows: every third illegally downloaded software programme is infected with malicious software. Nevertheless, 69% of consumers and 33% of businesses in Europe procure computers with software from unsafe sources.

Russian economy has grown stable along with oil prices

Higher prices of oil have allowed the Russian economy to recover despite European Union's and U.S. sanctions and in time to benefit the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has secured his next term in office.

Number of vacant jobs in Latvia grew 17.9% in 2017

In 2017, there were 17.0 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which was 2.6 thousand vacancies or 17.9 % more than in 2016. In public sector there were 6.1 thousand job vacancies van in private sector 10.9 thousand vacancies.

Latvian cosmetics producers exports goods worth approximately 20 million euros

Cosmetics producers in Latvia export products worth EUR 20 million every year. Volumes increase 5% every year. The main export partner states are located in Europe. Still, there has been a significant increase of export volumes to third countries – to some countries this increase was as large as 60% -70%, according to data from Latvian Cosmetic Manufacturers Association.

US Chamber of Commerce worried that Latvia’s political culture has not changed since Ridzene talks

American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia (ACCL): «We are concerned that Latvian society’s and its government’s political culture has not changed much since the publication of information detailing events associated with Ridzene talks in 2009-2011. The state capture detailed there may still be possible...

Latvia’s prime minister open for talks regarding MPC system’s liquidation

Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis is prepared to discuss the possible liquidation of the mandatory procurement system, but not for all businesses at the same time.

Air temperature in Latvia to remain mostly positive throughout the week

On Monday, 19 March, weather in Latvia will change, as a low atmospheric pressure area together with an atmospheric front will approach the country from the north. The day will be sunny for the most part, but the amount of clouds will increase as hours go by, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Ukraine: British diplomats expelled from Moscow could work in Kyiv

In a reaction to Russia's announcement that it would expel 23 British diplomats from Moscow as part of the UK-Russia argument over poisoning of double-agent in an English city, Ukrainian Foreign Minister has suggested to his British counterpart that the 23 diplomats could now work in Ukraine.

UGF leader confirms: Lembergs will not be proposed for prime minister post

Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of serious crimes and is currently suspended from his post as chairman of Ventspils City Council, had proposed his candidacy for the post of prime minister of Latvia multiple times in the past. The moment has come at long last when Lembergs will not be an official candidate for the aforementioned post, as BNN was told by the leader of Union of Greens and Farmers’ Saeima faction Augusts Brigmanis.

NATO's defence spending benchmark met by three EU member states

Despite the current demanding security situation, in the NATO military alliance, no more than three member states of the European Union have reached the recommended defence spending sum in 2017 and Estonia is one of them.

In fight for northern Syria, Turkish-backed forces take city from Kurds

In the fight for northern Syria between forces led by Turkey and Kurdish fighters, Turkish-backed units had gained control of the heart of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin.

Russian presidential election pronounced won by Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin been announced as the winner of the Sunday, March 18, presidential election, as the politician has pledged to devote his new term in office to strengthen Russia’s defences against the West and to improve the quality of life.

Week in Lithuania. Some 5,000 gather in protest rally outside Lithuania's Parliament

Some 5,000 people gathered outside the Lithuanian parliament in Vilnius on Thursday, March 15, to express discontent with the failed parliamentary vote to impeach MP Mindaugas Bastys and the performance of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

BNN summary of the week: oligarch talks’ ownership; scandals in Lithuania; Estonia wants direct democracy

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Scandals; Invitation; Fight; Opinion; Decline.

Remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires passes with shouts and two arrests

The Legionnaires’ remembrance procession in Riga on Friday, 16 March, passed peacefully. Nevertheless, several conflicts did take place among differently-minded people near the Freedom Monument. Two individuals were arrested by police.

Influenza intensity in Latvia – moderate when compared to other European nations

A comparison of influenza activity in Europe shows that it is high or very high in several countries. Latvia’s influenza intensity is considered moderate, as noted by epidemiologist Raina Nikiforova.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

Compared to Q4 2016, in Q4 2017 hourly labour costs rose by 54 cents or 7.3 %, reaching EUR 8.02. Seasonally adjusted data show identical changes – rise of 7.3 %.

Rietumu Banka claims it has not worked with high-risk clients for years

Rietumu Banka has been steadily rejecting high-risk clients for years and has significantly reduced the volume of transactions, as mentioned by the bank’s representatives.

Lithuanian and Estonian businessmen are ahead of Latvia in terms of investments

In Latvia, 36% of small and medium-sized companies have plans to invest in the development of their business this year. In Estonia and Lithuania, on the other hand, the proportion of businesses with development plans is 42% and 46%, respectively, according to results of a recent study performed by SEB Bank.

Russia pledges maximum pressure on UK amid ex-spy poisoning row

Russian top diplomat in the UK has envisaged on Friday, March 16, that the Kremlin would use maximum pressure on London as Moscow insists it has not been involved in the poisoning of a former Russian-British double agent with a Russian-made chemical weapon, as has been found by British investigators.

Latvia’s ministry: Crimea’s annexation is illegal

18 March 2018 will mark four years since the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and causing military aggression in the country’s eastern region. With its actions the Russian Federation has violated international law and basic principles of international relation, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Building gas pipe to Finland, Estonia to organise works for EUR 135 million

Continuing the works on the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Estonian natural gas network company Elering has stated that around 135 million euros, including a 98-million-euro funding from the European Union, will be invested in the project.