Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Return to square one

The October 16, 2007 is over, and it would stay in the modern history of Latvia as a formative day. From the point of view of the long term Latvian state development events were positive, nevertheless, the most ironic assumption from the omenous October 16 is that Latvia in its development has returned to the point where all started in 1991. First, it was the speech of the US ambassador Mrs Catherine Todd Bailey in the University of Latvia "Preserving Our Common Values" (http://riga.usembassy.gov/EN/site/embassy/rel20071016). Second, the government contrary to my predictions almost unanimously (with one minister abstaining) decided to suspend the head of the Anti Corruption Agency (KNAB), Mr Alekejs Loskutovs from his duties. Third, to continue his "home made" governance style the PM "suddenly" decided that he needs the minister of economics after all (absolutely contradicting his public statement just a couple of weeks ago). Thus, he decided to accept the Fatherland Union (TB/LNNK) party nominanted member for this post Mr Einārs Cilinskis. And finally, as a response to todays events there was literally uproar of journalists, experts and pundits. Just to quote revelations from the interview of the Head of the Foreign Policy Institute Mr Atis Lejiņš to the Latvian Radio after Madam Ambassadors's speech, "that Latvia is ruled by couple of tyrants without any democratic accountability" is enough to understand that the government is considered illegitimate among liberal cirles in Latvia. To read a report by Aaron Eglitis ( http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aE30OVAfRtgE) one may read in a nutshell how the US side considers present problems in this tiny Baltic republic. Therefore in the following entry I want to specifically discuss the Mrs Todd Bailey speech from a broader international politics perspective, and I shall also try to envisage the next possible scenarios for Latvian government behavior.

At first glimpse such row of events in traditionally sleepy country might seem extraordinary. But they seem not so, if one folows news starting from the last parliamentary elections in October 2006. Fraudulent elections were subsequently continued with hasty security organisations law changes at the last day of the year, unexpected veto of these laws by the former president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga, arrest of the maire of Ventspils, election of corrupt doctor as a president of the state, release of the maire of Ventspils from prison and puting him under house arrest, stepping down of the speaker of the parliament due to corruption charges and finally hasty election of the anesteziologist and Maire of Ventspils party member as the new speaker of the parliament.

Such a row of events is quite significant for a small country and would probably make any European state citizenry to the West of Latvia to be out on streets and demanding resignation of the political elite en toto. Latvia is a post Soviet state and has not developed basic machanisms of civil society, thus majority of society is happy for the little they have. The majority of society has not learned to value their liberty and assume it as simply given and not hardly fought for and highly regarded treasure. Empowering the civil society is one of the tasks of political parties (Dahl, Duverger and others), but this task has been absolutely negleted in Latvia (to read latest UNDP reports). I do not want to blame only political elite here because intelligentsia with its traditional East European smug attitude about the governing circles is as responsible for the apathy of Latvian citizenry. We may witness the situation today, when the governing coalition has compreended that their power is absolute and they have ceased to follow basic principles of liberal democracy - respecting the rule of law and involving themselves in constrctive dialogue with the political oposition. In situation when parliament has turned itself into rubber stamp of the governing coalition and when constitutional norms are openly disregarded it was obvious that the Ambassador of the United States came out with her speech at the University of Latvia.

Mrs Todd Bailey was reaching out to the young generation of Latvians and subtly noted that its the Latvian people who must participate in travails of their democratic state. The US government is a world hegemon and it has global responsibilities. Thus, fostering democratic changes in different areas of the globe would sound utterly wrong if another NATO ally would be run without any regard to the common values. The speech of Madam Ambassador was concise, and the bottom line was the pronouncement of the new approach of the US transformational diplomacy as I was expecting it in my yesterday's blog entry:

" SECRETARY RICE DEFINED TRANSFORMATIONAL DIPLOMACY, AS "WORKING WITH OUR MANY PARTNERS AROUND THE WORLD, TO BUILD AND SUSTAIN DEMOCRATIC, WELL-GOVERNED STATES THAT WILL RESPOND TO THE NEEDS OF THEIR PEOPLE AND CONDUCT THEMSELVES RESPONSIBLY IN THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM." SHE ADDED THAT "WE SEEK TO USE AMERICA'S DIPLOMATIC POWER TO HELP FOREIGN CITIZENS BETTER THEIR OWN LIVES AND TO BUILD THEIR OWN NATIONS AND TO TRANSFORM THEIR OWN FUTURES."

The US policymakers have realized fuzziness of the sovereignty concept. Former head of the State Department Political Planning Division Mr Stephen Krasner was a renown scholar of the Stanford University and his book "On Sovereignty" is a bestseller. In this book he elaborates about the distinctive character of the sovereignty concept starting from inception of the modern state system after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The three basic characters of sovereignty are following: a) international legal sovereignty; b) Westphalian or Vattelian inviolability of rights of sovereign; c) domestic sovereign crediblity. While the principles a and c are not really at stake in Latvian case, then the Westphalian/Vattelian inviolability of rights concept is reassessed in many parts of the world today. The first case was Kosovo followed by Rwanda, and we still face the issue of Darfur today.

The US government after the end of the Cold War is the global hegemon and it is able to impose its soft power because it has hard power capacity. The EU would like to equal with the US but Europeans lack hard power, and in the undemocratic world the precepts preached by soft powers are not really listened to if there is no back up of the hard power. Thus, the speech of the Madam Ambassador today in the University of Lavia falls very well in line with the new style of diplomacy the US is trying to implement globally. It was the speech of the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice who first uttered the "Transformational Diplomacy" in her speech at the University of Georgetown in 2006 for the fist time, and those of you interested in the basic principles of the transformational diplomacy may find that speech at: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/59306.htm.

In the meantime Latvian politicians live their own life and it seems that the riches coming from the EU funds have made them immune even to common sense. So, the PM bureau chief, who ironically happens to be also the former ambassador to the United States , Mr Māris Riekstiņš in the name of the prime minister demanded clarifications from the US embassy about the statement, "as if calling people to the strets to overthrow legally elected government", in Madam Ambassador's speech (http://www.delfi.lv/news/national/politics/article.php?id=19230017). Either PM has gone mad or he really believes in his omnicience when he openly announced that Latvian government after ambassador's speech might reasess relations between the two states (tas būtu jauns pavērsiens divu valstu attiecībās")? And all this prior the planned trip of the Latvian PM in November to Washington???

Whatever is the mental health of the PM Latvian governance cannot improve with such crooked politicanos. The mandatory tax and property declaration system, the very system that the PM promised to introduce as of January 1, 2008 was postponed last week, because the head of the Saeima Budget Committee Kārlis Leiškalns (People's Party member and former barman) announced that there are still huge inconsistencies for implementing it. Common, it is just ludicrous! One must simply hook up the land, car and real estate registers with the cetral data base of the Internal revenue service and the system can work. For this to hppen there is political will needed, that has never existed among the elites of the post independence Latvia, unfortunately.

Thus, what could be next moves of the present governing coalition? It is a hard question and there are no easy answers. Contrary to my intuitions PM did not even think twice and continued to play hard, thus it leads me to reckon that the vote of no confidence suspending Mr Loskutovs from the post of the KNAB could be successful this Thurday in ribberstamp Saeima. In case the governing coalition does not act as one pack and oust Mr Loskutovs, it would immediately trigger collapse of the government the event that eventually would lead to snap elections. After firing Mr Loskutovs the next person could possibly be the Head of the Supreme Court Mr Andris Guļāns, because last week there were news about dirty deals of his son in http://www.apollo.lv/ and http://www.delfi.lv/ . Prosecuotr Genaral is too cautios person and his timidity is understandable.

All in all, the government has painted itself into the corner and it may leash out against anyone anytime, exactly like against Mr Edgars Gulbis who mysteriously found himself in the autumny river Daugava right out of the hands of the police convoy. Lattelecom privatiation deal must be finalized, and after that insider of the Peoples Party said to me that appetite of master manipulator Mr Šķēle should be satisfied. I somehow believe that such contemplations are wishful thinking because the appetite grows infinitely, especially among those who have been enriching themselves free of charge and without any punishment all these years.

Latvian citizens have returned to square one. Laborious work of sixteen and a half years would be in shambles if citizens would stay apathetic and passive, therefore, there must be someone either from opposition parties or intelligentsia who would concentrate dissatisfied people around one power centre and start challenging the governing gang of crooks in Latvia.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In my view, at this point social organizations should take the role of uniting people, but they seem to be kind of confused.. At the same time there is need for more active commentaries of the existing situation from the side of Latvian intelligentsia. Because - everyone says that there should be crowds in the streets, but none of them would like to be those who encourage the rest of the population. I have a feeling that tension in ordinary people's minds is near to a critical level and they are ready to act, but at the same time are waiting for the initiative from others.
P.S.At the same time we should bear in mind that quite a lot of citizens of Latvia are victims of A-team's (Ainars, Aigars, Andris, Aivars) brainwashing...we could see it in the referendum. We can see it even now, when the 6 heads of rural municipalities joined LPP/LC, which means that rule 'with us or against us' is omnipresent in todays Latvia.

D.

Anonymous said...

Zatlers can easily take Vaira's old bully pulpit and really force the government to act. If he had a backbone (sorry, bad joke), he would be more pro-active. The Saeima would be committing suicide if they try to impeach him. He could be a hero if he acts, or a complete goat if he chooses to just sit in the yellow castle and brood.

Latvia has too few politicians with courage that can stand up to the corruption (of which the so-called "A Team" is a great representative of). Many have quit in disgust. But there has to be individual(s) for the angry citizenry to rally around.

I hate to say this, but our frail iron lady may have to come back and lead the charge against this "A Team" for good.

m

Baltic said...

To both commentaries:

I agree with the comment that inteligentsia has ben traditionally smug. It meants that following the best traditions of the Eastern Europe intelligentsia has been either coopted or does not want to do anything with the gang of crooks. A-team acts like a fist, because NEVER EVER anyone in Latvia objected them except VVF and also then only dimplomatically.

Return of Iron lady my friend...sounds temptative...but would she like to become martyr for the sake of such boors as common folks here are?? What is the challenge she would go for - the love for her country, vainglory, financial benefits - I really do not know, and who would be in her team and how she would serve her PM's tenure with the corrupt doctor?? Many questions to be answered, lets wait for the end of the week, perhaps something new would come up:)

mna said...

Do you have any links to news about the refusal of Mr. Leiskalns to implement the mandatory tax revenue system?
That is something which we were promised would happend...

Baltic said...

http://www.tvnet.lv/zinas/latvija/article.php?id=517406

October 11, 2007

Saeima šodien atbalstīja Budžeta un finanšu (nodokļu) komisijas lūgumu un pagarināja priekšlikumu iesniegšanas termiņu Fizisko personu mantiskā stāvokļa deklarēšanas likumam.

Priekšlikumu termiņš pagarināts līdz 3.decembrim, lai novērstu vairākas juridiskās neprecizitātes.
Līdz ar to likums nevarēs stāties spēkā no nākamā gada 1.janvāra, kā tika plānots iepriekš.

Kā iepriekš norādīja komisijas priekšsēdētājs Kārlis Leiškalns (TP), patlaban ir skaidrs tikai tas, ka likums nevarēs stāties spēkā no nākamā gada 1.janvāra, jo projektā ir vairākas neskaidrības.

Likumprojekta autori ir paredzējuši, ka mantiskā stāvokļa deklarācijas pirmo reizi iesniedz fiziskās personas, kuru pastāvīgā dzīvesvieta ir Latvijā, ja tām ārvalstīs īpašumā vai kopīpašumā ir nekustamais īpašums, ja persona Latvijā vai ārvalstīs pirkusi vai pārdevusi īpašumu, kas nav ierakstīts zemesgrāmatā, ja tai ārvalstīs pieder sauszemes, ūdens vai gaisa transportlīdzeklis vai tas iegādāts līzingā.

Personai būs jādeklarē arī tai Latvijā vai ārvalstīs piederošās akcijas, kapitāla daļas, kā arī līdzdalība kooperatīvajās sabiedrībās, Latvijā vai ārvalstīs esoši vērtspapīri.

Jādeklarē būs skaidras vai bezskaidras naudas uzkrājumi Latvijā vai ārvalstīs, kuru kopējā summa pārsniedz 100 minimālās mēnešalgas, kā arī aizņēmumi un aizdevumi Latvijā un ārvalstīs, kuru kopējā summa pārsniedz 100 minimālās mēnešalgas, kā arī īpašumi un gadā gūtais ienākums, ja tas pārsniedz 100 minimālās mēnešalgas.


Saeimas Juridiskais birojs uzskata, ka termins "fiziskās personas, kuru pastāvīgā dzīvesvieta ir Latvijas Republikā" ir jāprecizē, jo šāda neskaidra terminoloģija "radīs būtiskas problēmas to personu loka noteikšanā, kurām saskaņā ar likumu tiek noteikts pienākums iesniegt mantiskā stāvokļa deklarāciju un arī atbildības piemērošanu par šā pienākuma nepildīšanu vai nepienācīgu izpildi".

Arī deputāti atzina, ka būtu dīvaini, piemēram, vācietim, kurš ieguldījis savu naudu kādā Latvijas uzņēmumā vai nopircis mūsu valstī nekustamo īpašumu, prasīt, lai viņš deklarē visu, kas viņam pieder Vācijā. Rezultātā ārzemnieki, visticamāk, izlems savu naudu ieguldīt kādā citā valstī, kur viņiem neprasa mantisko deklarāciju.

Pēc deputātu domām, dīvainā stāvoklī nonāks arī tie pieaicinātie ārzemju konsultanti, kas ierodas Latvijā uz 2-3 gadiem, lai uzraudzītu lielu Eiropas Savienības (ES) līdzfinansētu projektu realizāciju.

Deputāti atzina, ka arī Fizisko personu mantiskā stāvokļa deklarēšanas likums, tāpat kā visi citi likumi, jāattiecina uz Latvijas pilsoņiem, nepilsoņiem un personām, kas saņēmušas uzturēšanās atļaujas Latvijā.

Diskusijas izraisīja arī likumprojekta autoru iecere, ka fiziskas personas skaidras naudas uzkrājumi, kuru kopējā summa pārsniedz 100 minimālās mēnešalgas, tiek atzīti par esošiem tikai tādā gadījumā, ja līdz tā gada 31.decembrim, par kuru tiek iesniegta deklarācija, fiziskā persona šos uzkrājumus ir ieskaitījusi savā kontā Latvijā, citā ES dalībvalstī vai Eiropas Ekonomiskās zonas valstī reģistrētā kredītiestādē, krājaizdevu sabiedrībā vai pasta norēķinu sistēmā.