Sunday, January 6, 2008

Early 2008 contemplations

Latvian new government started new year with a scandal. The so called spy scandal is nothing extraordinary because spies are in every country. Latvia is a member of the EU and NATO and therefore Russia is obviously interested how its neighbor and former province is doing. The fact, however, that the outgoing ambassador of the Russian Federation missed the fact that Latvia together with nine other EU countries joined Schengen Agreement, and thus openly scolded Latvian journalists for asking "unimportant questions" (concerning the alleged spies of FSB working in his embassy), makes one wonder about relationships between Moscow and present political leadership in Riga.

Russian outgoing ambassador made his odioze pronouncements throughout his four year tenure. While the outgoing ambassador of the US, Mrs Catherine Todd Bailey made her speech in the University of Latvia last October it made Latvian government nervous, and many rather unbalanced announcements followed. Throughout four years of Mr Kaluzhny ambassadorship Latvian government has appeased his colourful announcements, including the last ones. During the first week of the 2008, if one follows Latvian media, it becomes clear that Latvian politicians are mere appeasers without real understanding that they are NATO and EU member. Regardless of contradictory announcements of the PM and the Minister of Foreign Affairs it is unclear what kind of signal did Ivars Godmanis want to give to the EU partners, while first ambassador he met after being chosen as a new prime minister of Latvia was the Russian one?

While hypothetical gas powered station was mere possibility at the end of last year it is the Russian Ambassador hints in Diena that the decision is almost made - the gas powered station should be built at the premises of Riga TEC-2 thermoelectric station. I cant believe that outgoing ambassador would be bluffing thus much, therefore the question is still open - how the station is going to be built, if the parliament has not passed the law giving it a GO? Interesting, very interesting indeed, how would voting for the gas powered station during upcoming months affect the government stability? In the meantime what should Estonian and Lithuanian partners think about Latvian government position in prospective Ignalina Nuclear power station project?

Latvian government similarly to Estonia could simply emulate best governance practices of its Scandinavian partners. Present cabinet simply has given in to the corporate interest groups, and enables inordinate influence of Russian business interest groups over Latvian government. The saddest part is that such governance style delays thus needed structural remake of its legal, constitutional and fiscal systems. Without dispersal of the present parliament it is impossible to bridge an ever increasing dissatisfaction with present governing elite among the Latvian public. Continued consolidation of the civic society is still needed and the consolidation of the civic society and oposition parties would determine the lenght of the present interim government in the office.


Anonymous said...

As we have all feared, Godmanis is just another hat on the same head as Kalvitis. The same snake...well, monster, lives on and is probably even stronger.

If this keeps happening, most of Latvia's best young people will be living in Dublin, Brussels, London, or Istanbul -- and Latvia will end up as a pseudo failed state or sitting duck for Russia.

Imagine, if Latvia loses so many young people it cannot even field a minimal army...

Gladys said...

Quite helpful piece of writing, much thanks for this article.