Latviski English По-русски
Monday 17.02.2020 | Name days: Konstance, Donats

Latvian president’s heritage – «inspiring» speeches and non-citizens’ children

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIf anything is clear about presidential elections in Latvia it is that Raimonds Vējonis will not remain the country’s president. Failing to secure support from political parties represented in the Saeima, the president announced his decision to not stand candidate for a second term.

During Vējonis’ term as president Latvia has seen two government’s rise, KGB bag opened, Latvia’s centenary celebrated and discussions were held in regards to refugees. BNN offers a look back at Vējonis’ accomplishments in the past four years.

«Boy from Madona»

Vējonis, born in Russia, started his political career in Madona. He later moved to Ogre. As a person he was simple in his political career and as President of Latvia.

Shortly after his election Vējonis announced he does not want to live in the president’s residence in Jurmala and wants to remain in his apartment in Ogre. He did not organize and inauguration party and promised to actively communicate with residents on Twitter.

Only one promise of all of them was upheld in the end.

In 2016, Vējonis left Ogre in favour of the residence in Jurmala. Even his Twitter page posts only official announcements and congratulations addressed to Latvian athletes.

Embarrassments also surfaced now and again during official moments. For example, during his speech at the Song and Dance Celebration, Vējonis congratulated Latvia with New Year’s. His English language skills were not exactly excellent either. His foreign Language skills even ‘earned’ him a sketch by Saturday Night Live about the meeting of Baltic leaders with US President Donald Trump in 2018.

One undeniable positive aspect of Vējonis’s personality is his calm approach to work. He was a welcome change after a president who promised to use fists and did not stand out much with bravado.


Perhaps it was something that stuck with him from his time as Latvia’s Defence Ministry, but Vējonis spent a lot of time speaking about Latvia’s defence, outlining accomplishments and pushing Latvia towards better results. But for the most part Vējonis avoided voicing heavy criticisms, as his speeches were more declarative than acting.

Latvia’s president was not a great orator, his words and thoughts never rose above speeches of ranking average officials and maintained a speaking style typical for the 21st century. ‘Knowledge is power that cannot be taken away.’ ‘Our aspirations and work are the most beautiful gift.’ ‘We are one of the rare nations that have their own country.’

It can be said that

Vējonis’ statements are the offspring of poet Kornēlija Apškrūma and Paulo Coelho. Yes, everything is correct and well-spoken, but it is unlikely he will be quoted by future generations.

In important topics such as asylum seekers and KGB bag’s opening, Vējonis did not offer any clear and confident opinion that would help direct public discussions. Instead the president mostly stood on the sidelines.

When he was expected to show strength to define the anger coming from society, he said every involved person should consider their role in discussions and explain to society their actions. This kind of behaviour from him was observed in relation to «oligarch talks’ in Ridzene Hotel. At least, according to the president, these talks were ‘unacceptable’. You don’t say.

The president was expected to «show some spine» on 13 July 2017, when people came to Riga Castle in reaction to published transcripts from those talks and the lack of a response from Vējonis.

He also denied having knowledge about talks in the hotel when he was chairman of the Union of Greens and Farmers and proposed Aivars Lembergs as a candidate for the post of Latvia’s prime minister.

Sitting at the same table with Ainārs Šlesers

In 2017 a wide resonance in society was caused by a documentary from public broadcaster TV3 programme Nekā personīga that mentioned how Vējonis sat behind the same table with infamous Latvian businessman and ex-politician Ainārs Šlesers during his visit to Dubai. The ex-politician wanted to inspire Arab businessmen by making it seem like he has contacts with very influential people.

Vējonis denied knowing that he would sit at the same table with Šlesers during his dinner with Saudi Arabian businessman Khalif al Saif.

The photo showing them sitting together was published on social media by former official of the local embassy Rūdolfs Brēmanis, who shared business interests with Šlesers and Andris Šķēle.

Falling ill

Vējonis moved to the president’s residence in Jūrmala after he ended up in hospital in 2016. At first it was nothing more serious than the president falling ill to some virus, as nothing more was revealed about his condition at the time. Later, however, it turned out the president is seriously ill and it may have very serious effects on his health.

Perhaps public concerns about his health gave him strength. During his recovery after the surgery on his heart, Vējonis still followed the government formation process and even performed his duties while hospitalized.

Political roots

During municipal elections in Latvia, UGF presented itself as the president’s party. In 2017, Vējonis asked them to stop doing that.

Vējonis’ ties with UGF cast a shadow on him, as people suspected that he may be influenced by suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs.  When pressed if he would pardon Lembergs if the decade-long criminal case ended with a guilty verdict, Vējonis said no. This matter was not mentioned again because court debates have only just commenced, and it does not seem like they are close to ending.

It is worth mentioning that Vējonis was elected President of Latvia thanks to votes from Harmony. Although UGF has always denied having sympathy for this party, their ‘friendship’ is undeniable when you look at their work in the parliament.

In spite of the fact that Vējonis maintains political neutrality in his post, his statements in regards to the regional reform, people’s elected president and transparency in state administration, were more or less aligned with UGF’s values.

Behind closed doors

Although publicly Vējonis proposed forming a country ruled by law and praised transparency, this position of his was not reflected a whole lot in action.

For example,

He spoke against open presidential elections, saying that it would be an imitation of activity, adding that such voting would not contribute to transparency.

In 2017, Latvia did not welcome the decision to keep wages of employees of State President’s Chancellery a secret. This decision was backed by the argument that revealing his information would invade the privacy of personal life.

Diena newspaper revealed that the employees of the State President’s Chancellery are often paid bonuses and that this is explained by typically formal excuses, such as ‘bonus was paid in accordance with successful accomplishment of duties’. Diena allowed that after bonuses were ceased in spring of the same year bonus amounts were simply added to employee wages.

Nation’s cohesion

One of the main characteristics of Vējonis’ presidential term was the desire to unite the nation on a national level. The president comes from a Latvian-Russian family and this did bring benefits at first, as his family situation served as a symbol to unite these two nationalities.

In his speeches he stood in favour of uniting these two groups of residents in Latvia. Perhaps the most noteworthy step towards this was his proposal to abolish the practice of giving newborn children of non-citizens their parents’ status.

In 2017, Latvia’s 12th Saeima rejected this proposal. The president later submitted this proposal again to the13th Saeima. Time will tell if the president’s proposal turns into law. He will have been replaced by a new president by the time this topic becomes clear.

New Unity and Attīstībai/Par! have already voiced support for the president’s initiative, whereas National Alliance ‘All for Latvia – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ opposes it.

What will the future bring?

There are three presidential candidates at the moment – European Union Court of Justice Judge Egils Levits, UGF’s picked ombudsman Juris Jansons, and KPV LV internal opposition candidate Didzis Šmits.

Vējonis has yet to announce any plans what he plans to do after stepping down as president. It is known, however, that he will not get a state-maintained apartment. However, he will be paid a bigger pension.

Vējonis turns 53 this year – not exactly an age to engage in peaceful everyday pastimes and nurturing grandchildren.

At the beginning of his presidency Vējonis said due to youth the political elite may have to tolerate him a long time. Four years later, this prediction seems less believable.

It is common knowledge that Latvia’s president enjoys gardening. This is where his environment education and love for nature surfaces. Likely Latvia’s political arena will have to make do without him.

Leave a reply

Saeima deputies put off vote on final MPC system report; say more time needed

On Monday, 17 February, Saeima’s Parliamentary Investigative Committee for Mandatory Procurement Component System did not vote on the final report. Approximately thirty minutes were spent discussing the fact that not all members of the committee have had an opportunity to study the latest redaction of the document.

Latvia’s president presents no plan for Misāne matter after meeting with heads of institutions

After meeting with representatives of the management of responsible institutions on Monday, 17 February, Latvia’s President Egils Levits did not present a clear action plan for Kristīne Misāne’s situation. However, he did stress the importance of civil activity, including the rising role online petitions.

Rubber stretching. 11th anniversary of Aivars Lembergs’ trial

Rubber stretching is a process that supposedly progresses but yields no benefits to anyone except the person doing the stretching. This allegory can be used to describe Aivars Lembergs’ trial, which has continued for 11 years.

101 applications submitted for project on preservation of cultural and historical heritage

A total of 101 applications for a total amount of EUR 1.68 million have been received for Riga City Council’s announced tender, as reported by Riga City Council chairman’s advisor Baiba Gailīte.

FKTK chief: Latvia has earned the right to avoid being «greylisted»

Latvia has earned the right to avoid being added to Financial Action Task Force «grey list», said the head of Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission Santa Purgaile in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Monday, 17 February.

Latvian government signs new contract for Latvia’s pavilion in Expo 2020

The government has signed a 1.4 million euros worth contract for the construction of Latvia’s pavilion at Expo 2020, which will be held in Dubai, as confirmed by Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro

Eurostat: Latvia’s GDP growth reportedly below average in EU in Q4 2019

When compared to the same period of the previous year, Latvia had a lower GDP than the average in the European Union in Q4 2019, according to data published by Eurostat for 20 of the union’s countries.

Signature collection for a referendum on municipal snap election regulations fails

According to provisional results from the Central Election Commission, it has not been possible to collect enough signatures to initiate a referendum over Saeima’s approved changes to municipal snap elections regulations.

Denmark plans to have Latvian citizen Misāne handed over to South African Republic

On Friday, 14 February, the Danish court ruled not to release Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne from custody. In the South African Republic the woman is accused of kidnapping her own child, as LTV was informed by Misāne lawyer.

Week in Lithuania: retailer Maxima got in trouble, Turkish firm’s assets frozen, New Agency set up

Lithuania's concessions provided to the Polish business group Orlen, operating an oil refinery in Lithuania's Mažeikiai, have helped to improve bilateral relations but were not the key element in their thaw, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said this week.

BNN summary of the week: Levits urges protecting officials. Riga City Council toppled. Tax changes planned

The BNN gives you a summary of the key events of the past week, told in news stories of the following topics: Serious signals; Perseverance; Dismissal; Tax changes; Media supervisors; Inflation; Slower over the bridge and Belief protectors.

Prime minister orders development of proper government MPC monitoring rules

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has ordered Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro to immediately commence work on a new mandatory procurement component monitoring project and submit it as soon as possible to ensure efficient control over the system, as confirmed by the prime minister’s office.

1 700 medics infected with coronavirus in China; six dead so far

More than 1 700 medics in China are confirmed infected with the new coronavirus. Six of them have already died, as confirmed by healthcare officials.

Number of foreign guests hosted in Latvian places of accommodation up 1.6%

2.85 million foreign and Latvian visitors stayed at Latvian tourist accommodation establishments in 2019, which is 1.6 % more than in 2018. Compared to the previous year, the number of nights spent by visitors increased by 2.6 %, reaching 5.51 million in 2019.

Experts approve Riga Central Station’s Rail Baltica regional train reception solution

A solution has been found to install a four-lane railway section at Riga Central Railway Station to replace the existing two-lane section. This will help secure not only international and airport connectivity for Rail Baltica trains but also further improve intercity and suburban train services, as reported by the project’s representatives.

Beness Aijo asks Vladimir Putin for political asylum; claims Russia has released him

Beness Aijo, who fled Latvia to avoid criminal prosecution for calls of a violent overthrowing of the government, has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide him political asylum. He also claims Russian authorities have released him from custody.

Share prices plummet on stock markets over concerns for coronavirus

On Thursday, 13 February, share prices around the world plummeted as concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic in China. London Stock Exchange index declined shortly after British Finance Minister Sajid Javid’s sudden resignation.

Saeima to add considerable amendments to Criminal Procedure Law

On Thursday, 13 February, Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law that provide the duty to provide truth in testimony if a person uses the right to testify.

Week’s end in Latvia will be snowy, rainy and windy

Strong wind, which may reach a speed of 25 m/sec along the coast, is expected at this week’s end in Latvia. Air temperature, however, will remain mostly unchanged, as reported by Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

National Alliance and New Unity may run in Riga City Council elections separately

Following the decision made by the New Conservative Party to run in upcoming Riga City Council snap elections separately, a similar decision will likely be made by the National Alliance «All for Latvia – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK» and New Unity.

Airbnb and Vilnius sign «historic» agreement, taxmen to zero in on short-term rentals

Long chastised for little regulation, Airbnb, a popular short-term rentals platform, was praised this week in Lithuania after capital city Vilnius and Airbnb inked an agreement, envisioning that from February 1 onwards Airbnb will automatically collect Vilnius city tourism tax due per night and per person and transfer the sum directly to the City of Vilnius on behalf of hosts.

Latvian parliament dissolves Riga City Council

The Saeima has decided to dissolve Riga City Council. The city council remains active, however, because the law on its dismissal will come to force the next day after its promulgation. Now President Egils Levits has ten days to make his decision on the promulgation.

Tallinn residents reject proposal to limit driving speed to 40 km/h

Residents of Tallinn have rejected mayor Mihhail Kõlvart’s proposal to limit driving speed within city limits to 40 km/h, forcing the municipality to look for other ways to control road traffic speed, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Journalists Kalderauska and Eglītis approved as members of National Electronic Mass Media Council

On Thursday, 13 February, Latvia’s Saeima approved journalists Ieva Kalderauska and Jānis Eglītis as new members of the National Electronic Mass Media Council.

European Parliament urges putting an end to illegal pet trade

To protect animal welfare, pet owners and public health, the European Parliament urges the European Union to come up with an action plan to put an end to illegal pet trade, BNN was informed by EP press-secretary in Latvia Jānis Krastiņš.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!