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Sunday 24.09.2017 | Name days: Agris, Agrita

Veshnyakov and Saeima deputies discuss possibility of having president elected by citizens

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUDiscussions have begun behind the scenes in the Saeima in regard to potential candidates for the post of President of Latvia. Additionally, it seems that Andris Berzins does not have a majority of support in the parliament.

Russia has noticed these discussions as well: Russian ambassador Aleksandr Veshnyakov has visited Saeima factions in order to discuss different topics, including the matter regarding the possibility of allowing the people elect the President of Latvia.

On Friday, December 19th, Veshnyakov went to meet with To Latvia from the Heart. He was welcomed by Inguna Sudraba and member of the Saeima Praesidium Gunars Kutris. Together they held a talk that lasted for more than an hour. Topics included potential changes to the Constitution and allowing the people of Latvia to elect their President.

Veshnyakov had also discussed the topic of a people’s President with Unity as well. Unity had only one person speak with the ambassador – Solvita Āboltiņa. She had not expected Veshnyakov to discuss the established process of electing the President of Latvia.

According to Nekā personīga programme of TV3, it is through these talks that Russia wanted to see if it can make sure a Kremlin-friendly President elected in Latvia.

«He was mostly interested in it in general terms and whether or not the next president will be elected using the old system or by means of a vote of Latvian citizens. Because I am a lawyer, I told him about my opinion on this matter, saying that Latvia’s Constitution cannot be amended quickly – it is only allowed to be changed through three separate readings. Through talks, public involvement, experts’ opinions it is possible to achieve. However, there have not been any discussions of this kind in Latvia. It is clear that our neighbour is interested in this matter. It is not the kind of question one asks out of mere curiosity,» – said Āboltiņa.

All potential amendments related to the process of electing State President submitted by Sudraba’s party, Latvian Regional Alliance, Harmony and Union of Greens and Farmers are now in the hands of Saeima committees. However, the Public Administration and Local Government Committee does not plan to review such legislative proposals sooner than in several years. Deputy of the Foreign Affairs Committee Atis Lejiņš believes the ambassador wanted to achieve a quick approval of amendments to Latvia’s Constitution.

«He seems to desperately want the people to be able to elect their President; he lobbies this idea. We receive all kinds of lobbies; all of them more or less open,» – said Lejiņš.

Only the National Alliance refused to meet with Veshnyakov. Solvita Āboltiņa criticized Inara Murniece’s decision to refuse the meeting with the ambassador. If a diplomat wants to talk, this opportunity should be used.

«Speaking from my experience as a diplomat, I can say that this kind of decision only demonstrates one’s lack of competence. This is what I unfortunately have to say in this situation. It only serves to demonstrate one’s political incompetence. Saeima Chairperson has a duty to represent the entire parliament: all 100 deputies and the National Alliance. Even if they do not like the Russian ambassador they can choose not to demonstrate it in such a way. But if we want to find a solution with a country with which we share diplomatic and economic relations, we must talk with officials of this country,» – adds Āboltiņa.

The Russian embassy has yet to provide information as to why Veshnyakov discussed the matter of election of Latvian State President with the Saeima.


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