The trip of Latvian Transport Ministry’s state secretary and, simultaneously, the representative of the holder of state stocks in airBaltic Kaspars Ozolins to Tatras along with members of the airline’s council member Kaspars Briskens and the company’s board member Martins Sedlackis in August 2015 is nothing compared how the now former Transport Minister of Latvia Anrijs Matiss has fused with players of his formerly managed industry – LDz and companies involved in Latvia’s road-building business.
As reported by Diena on 20 November, the three officials departed for Tatras on 18 August.
Diena cites the opinion of Latvia’s former Transport Minister Matiss, who said that ‘the council of airBaltic has fused with the board. Briskens works in the company’s best interest even though he is the one who should represent the ministry, be the country’s eyes and ears in airBaltic. Instead he lobbies and defends the board’s every request.’ Matiss does not accept the opinion that if things were so bad, why weren’t airBaltic’s council and board dissolved and formed anew.
According to information available to BNN, Matiss has ‘fused’ with companies he was expected to supervise as Transport Minister. «Shortly after Matiss was elected to the Saeima (with support from LDz management and trade union), celebrations were held in Virogna – LDz trade union’s recreational complex is located not far from Daugavpils – to honour this occasion. Matiss had invited his closest supporters to those celebrations. Approximately 20 people came. Among them were managers of the largest road-building companies, including Latvian State Roads and Latvian Road Maintenance,» – as BNN was told by a source that wished to remain anonymous. He adds that Matiss had asked everyone to leave their phones in their rooms and not carry them into the banquet hall. A team of LDz Security patrolled the grounds while celebrations were being held to repel journalists and other curious people.
It is also worth keeping in mind that, according to information from De Facto programme, even before Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma’s request of Matiss resignation, he had expressed the wish to become Chairman of LDz.
Even though Matiss is a member of the board of Unity, his recently voiced opinions do not comply with the party’s general views. For example, De Facto had previously found out that the procurement of new trains organized by LDz was written specifically for Ural locomotive factory. The views of the party’s leaders and Matiss on the next leader for LDz differed as well. Straujuma told De Facto that she knew about Matiss wish to become the next Chairman of LDz, but added that it is now impossible ‘a dismissed minister is not allowed to take office in institutions that were previously under his control for two years after resigning’. Matiss has been excluded from competition for this post. His ambitions came as a surprise for Unity.
BNN had previously reported that following harsh condemnation and criticism from experts and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma in regards to his actions in the airBaltic matter, one would ask – was the former Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss merely incompetent in his work or did he act intentionally in someone else’s interest, not 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.
«The minister has lost my trust. I believe supervision over airBaltic was insufficient,» – said Straujuma in an interview to LETA.
It would be possible to increase the airline’s financial state by increasing the base capital by EUR 22 million, signing a peaceful resolution with Riga International Airport, optimizing the airline’s expenses, reducing the number of unpopular flight destinations or selling one or two of its subsidiaries – Coalition Rewards, Air Baltic Training and Baltijas Kravu Centrs, according to information available to BNN.
Others have since expressed harsh words toward the minister as well. BNN had previously reported that, according to Karlis Krastins – head of Prudentia – Matiss actively used disinformation and lies in this work with airBaltic. Krastins also went as far as saying that Matiss suffers from schizophrenia. Had Matiss remained in this post of Transport Minister, the very existence of airBaltic would have been at risk.
It is worth mentioning that Matiss cannot fully recall his own statements all that accurately. For example, at first Matiss claimed the contract with Montag-Girmes [potential investor for airBaltic] would include the procurement of Russian Sukhoi SuperJet-100 aircraft. Sometime later he said no specific model of aircraft was stated in the contract and that the new investor would have the rights to make decision in relation to any potential changes to matter related to the fleet. Also the now former Transport Minister said the government should speed up it decision-making processes and refuse the offered investor, who happens to be a respectable German citizen. Matiss had also mentioned in the past that the potential investor selected by Prudentia would present certain risks to Latvia’s national security if approved by the government.
Matiss’ public statements, in which he predicts the end for the government, are also confusing, especially considering his own represented party is in the government and even holds the post of Prime Minister.