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Monday 24.02.2020 | Name days: Diāna, Dina, Dins

Minister: Latvia needs representatives in EP the country can be proud of

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«Latvian voters should keep in mind that Latvia is represented by only eight members in the European Parliament. It is vital to find candidates we would not be ashamed of. There is no other recipe – if you want to affect the composition of the European Parliament, it is important to remember that results from votes. Nothing will change if we stand on the sidelines,» said Latvian Culture Minister and MEP candidate Dace Melbārde in an interview to BNN.

«I was surprised to see that many European Parliament candidates are not associated with politics»

Latvia’s Culture Minister Dace Melbārde (National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’) is a candidate for European Parliament Elections 2019. She says «it is time to try something new». «I am in favour of rotating officials in posts. People should change jobs every now and then. Sitting in one place, drowning in routine eventually forces a person to notice the time has come for change.» She says this is necessary «to ensure dynamic progress and motivation to accomplish more».

When asked by BNN who could replace her as Latvia’s Culture Minister if she is elected in the European Parliament, Melbārde said: «I have some potential candidates picked out, but it is too soon to speak of this.»

The minister said it was a surprise for her to see among candidates for the European Parliament people who are not associated with politics. As for her colleague, so to speak, Ansis Pūpols, who is a former and not-so-former journalist from Nekā personīga and his decision to submit his candidacy in spite of the fact that the two professions are incompatible based on the journalist code of ethics, she said the following: «What he should do is draw a clear line when he becomes a politician and stops being a journalist. Those are two incompatible fields.»

She notes that this is good – seeing people from different fields taking part in EP elections. However, she is still surprised to see among candidates so many people who were not previously ‘seen’ in national politics. She also says it’s not just journalists who seen odd as candidates but politologists as well.

As for standing Latvian politicians who have plans to become MEP candidates, Melbārde said she was surprised to see Riga City Council Chairman Nils Ušakovs and former Vice-Chairman Andris Ameriks among them.

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«In the European Parliament we need to fight more for cultural objects in Latvia»

European Union has a significant effect on Latvia’s cultural happenings, says Melbārde. This is why she sees her contribution in the EP being delivered through humanitarian field. «We see that Latvia is stuck in many topics when it comes to EU level. This includes use of EU structure funds.» As an example she mentioned major infrastructure projects like the National Concert Hall, for which the EU has set certain obstacles. According to her, it is more important to fight for culture objects in Latvia, and the EP should be the representative to defend them on a European level.

As for what should be improved in the EU, Melbārde outlined the topic regarding security of the information space – it is important to ensure quick responses to violations. According to her, the national information space is limited – even with EU regulations. «At the same time, it is necessary to establish a single EU position and cooperation with social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google – and their owners,» said the minister.

Citizens’ involvement is too low – it should be changed on a European level

As one of the topical problems, the minister outlined the low participation of Latvian civil society, which should be changed rapidly. «This is in our common interests to ensure more youngsters take part in the EU process, because its future largely depends on youngsters’ belief in EU projects.»

«Currently youngsters’ participation in EP elections is very low. While on average EP elections are attended by 40% of residents with voting rights, this ratio is only 27% among residents aged under 25, which is a very low index. This is where we ask why youngsters do not see the EU important in their lives and if they even see Europe’s and their country’s future, considering the growing globalization processes and people becoming dependent on one another, which means more problems for the country to mutually resolve with participating countries. In this case it is important to identify the topics that should be resolved multilaterally and ones in which the EU should not interfere.»

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«I think the declining number of voters is associated with the fact that people do not receive full information how decisions made by the EU affect their lives. This is a rock tossed in the garden of the European Parliament. This is one mission – for MEPs to explain in state language what happens in the parliament and use all available tools, not just post some advertisements in some paper every now and then,» says the MEP candidate.

She also says: «As for global affairs in need of cooperation between countries, I would outline climate change. There are also topics such as terrorism and money laundering prevention. EU has been very successful here. I can say our political association’s and my personal slogan going to EP elections is that the EU should do less but better. We need to identify topics in which joint action is needed and where all countries would benefit while also enhancing each country’s own sovereignty.»

As for climate change and why Latvia should hurry and improve civil responsibility, the minister said the root of the problem lies in the fact that people do not feel climate change all that much. This is where, according to her, civil responsibility appears and should be nurtured so that people look towards EU’s and the world’s future more. «Just because climate change does not seem apparent now, this does not mean our society should not be worried.»

«It is important to raise awareness among residents and show them how to change their lifestyle. Education and culture topics can assist here, because sometimes strong films or art exhibitions could help raise awareness and influence people’s opinion more than decisions made by the European Parliament,» Melbārde told BNN.

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