Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Don't ask, don't tell

Google search engine gives most answers about the ''don't ask, don't tell'' expression in relation to sexual minorities in the US army, however, it is an old expression that allowed minority groups to survive throughout world history. I do remember hearing such expressions from my grandparents in the Soviet occupied Estonia, and now also among minority groups in Latvia. In this blog entry I do not want to delve thus much back into history as to describe the present Latvian government, because in its totality Latvian nomenclature actions perfectly reveal example of "don't ask, don't tell" governance system.
Almost everyone in Latvia would answer that major culprits of the present political and economic mess in Latvia - it is ill famous AAA team. And the same AAA team catering for their own gang of supporters have institutionalised hierarchical and corrupt governance system, that is hidden behind the facade of the Latvian constitutional democracy. However, the Latvian constitutional caucus did not take place in post - independence Latvia, because the former CPSU comrades and Diaspora members simply rolled over the 1922 Satversme. Such turn of events allowed gangsters from the AAA team not only to exert inordinate influence over decision making process, but to literally capture the state.
However, it is impossible to discuss it openly on governmental level because the Prosecutor General and Corruption Prevention bureau (KNAB) are powerless so far. To present you the latest example, I believe that almost every reasonable person in the Latvian public domain understand that the government dragging its feet while implementing structural reforms was mostly due to gross mistakes of Kalvitis (PP) and Godmanis (LWLFP) governments. The previous mistakes were never really evaluated, and today we are able to learn that nothing special minister is ready to be minister again (!). Today the major opposition to structural reforms is the whimsical PP and always changing their mind UGF "coalition partners" behavior.
Disappearance of business projects and giving up of power does not happen smoothly anywhere.
The AAA team gangsters are behaving strangely however. While they were endorsing Latvian accession to the EU and NATO it allowed them to earn handsome monies from this process. I believe that they somehow miscalculated the golden straitjacket that followed the EU membership. This probably explains why the AAA team does not legalize its activities, but fights for very survival of the Lettish crony capitalism! I also have a hunch that the AAA team are not even major play makers in their shady activities, because why the hell they would act thus irrationally and gangsta like? My hunch is that they do not really manage establishing business contacts in the West, thus staying intimately connected with authoritarian chums in undemocratically governed countries. It means that Latvian Western partners must play the "don't ask, don't tell" game because alternatively there would be an open confrontation. While the civil society members were trying to explain basic principles of democratic governance to the Latvian populace, the AAA team and their retinue with their deep pockets were rather successful in disseminating their conspiracy theories. Simply the political establishment never cared establishing europeanized democratic political and discussion culture. I do understand that my last two sentences were broad generalizations, but then how to explain flourishing of such notions as sorosīdi and liberasts in Latvian public opinion? I understand if Bedlam folks use such expressions, but those notions have entered into mainstream public discourse and also Latvian politicians ostensibly use them... . I have not heard such notions in Estonia and Lithuania for example, and would be glad if someone from Eesti or Lietuva would be able to provide me facts about such occurrences.
ECOFIN Commissioner Mr Joaquin Almunia or IMF are described in internet forums as evil forces in Latvian press, but media houses and their owners who portray IMF and EU as smth. foreign could better recall that it was the Latvian political establishment (PP, UGF, LWLFP and TBLNNK) that signed agreements with both the EU and IMF. Why the hell the EU representatives must explain that Latvian government was the one requesting the mega loan and understanding the need to implement structural reforms again and again, and that the EU did not force those reforms on its own member state? Why the hell the journalists do not understand thus simple facts and participate in this "don't ask, don't tell" game? Enough for this morning, and the president convenes the state security council today, and I leave my questions unanswered. Each and every one of you probably know the reasons for present rat hole Latvian state has painted itself in. However, the government must outsmart the corrupt AAA team players, and that game is heck of the complicated because AAA team gangsters are both in government, courts and civil service, and to pinpoint who is really who in the post Soviet Latvia is not an easy task after all.
P.S. Here is my weekly column for the Baltic Times


nelielrīdziniece said...

Veiko, I just saw *your* comment in response to mine, a few posts back. Thanks for it!

In your latest entry, this caught my eye: "However, the Latvian constitutional caucus did not take place in post - independence Latvia, because the former CPSU comrades and Diaspora members simply rolled over the 1922 Satversme. Such turn of events allowed gangsters from the AAA team not only to exert inordinate influence over decision making process, but to literally capture the state."

Can you summarize which clauses of the Satversme have contributed to and/or should been changed in order to prevent the 'reign of the oligarchs?' I do recognize that's a huge question - perhaps, it can only be answered in a separate post. I'm curious, simply because overall I haven't thought there were any demonstrable short-comings to LV's constitution. The parliamentary electoral law, however, is a whole different animal. : )

Visu labu,


Veiko Spolitis said...


Political developments are evolving rapidly now as you might read froim my latest blog entry. Again, noticed your comment only after posting a new entry:) Busy now with lectures, organizing events and writing articles + dissertation, huh, uhh:)

Article 59 in particular and if you read this interview you may notice how the AAA team plans to use the disfunctionality of the aforemetioned article. remember that both GER and EST avoided this shortcoming of Weimar Constitution, thus they do not need majority of the parliment approving change of the minister in the cabinet...

Also the art 78.79 are now out of sync from the original verion, 1993 amendment to increase the sitiing time of the Saeima from 3 to 4 was ablunder, and a rather provocative question - if the 1922 Satversme did not save Latvia from May 15, 1934, why do politicians think it would save them now?:) Also, and what I have written earlier, Satversme is not only leagl instrument - foremost it is a political declaration of the constitutional caucus, WHICH NEVER REALLY HAPENED in post-independence Latvia...:)

nelielrīdziniece said...

Paldies, Veiko!

I had totally forgotten about the lack of a constructive vote of no confidence, and its related issues. Even so, what should have occurred immediately post-1991 is now really a matter for historians. (Btw, did you know our current electoral law was only supposed to be used for the 1993 election – see point 4 At least in the stenogrammas, there was no indication that the 5th Saeima ever even considered drafting a new one.) Just in general, especially after Boyars’ foray into writing a new constitution, I’d literally be terrified of the final outcome, if this were seriously undertaken in the foreseeable future. Since, come what may, AAA *also* would influence the outcome.

But has any authority ( e.g., Pleps or his colleagues) ever published an analysis of the short-comings of the current Satversme? I know you’re currently tied up with your dissertation, but what a great article it would be if someone fleshed out the weaknesses you see, which contribute to the lack of more stable coalition governments. This has been a source of despair for many, and would definitely be of interest to readers. Maybe after you’ve finished the PhD stuff – if you’re not too exhausted – you might like to tackle this? : )

Visu labu,


PS – What is your dissertation topic? Raksti man privāti, ja nevēlies par to te runāt.

Veiko Spolitis said...


The Riga 2009 Conference is over and preparing for todays lecture now:)

Constructive vote of no confidence or Art. 57 + whilst chatting with LV president after the Conference last saturday, I asked him about using of Art. 48/49...His answer was that he is in waivering position due to constitution not providing clear guidelines of interim period between announcement of saeima being sacked and referendum. Told him, that he is the one who designates, and Saeima does not work anyway, however he dimplomatically switched to the topic of unbicversity reform:)

(Btw, did you know our current electoral law was only supposed to be used for the 1993 election – see point 4

YES, I do remember that but the Bojārs temptations were deangerous enough and I agree with you on this point absolutely!

But has any authority ( e.g., Pleps or his colleagues) ever published an analysis of the short-comings of the current Satversme?

I guess it was Indulis balmaks (Utrecht or Leiden Uni) who wrote about it first in Diena blogosphere. I just met Jānis Pleps last week in Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and I proposed him to write about the shortcomings of the present satversme and combine it with the issue of the lack of causus (in comparison with EST and LIT) jointly, thus to merge the political science and legal arguments:) You read my mind so to say:) Details about dissertation would follow privately, and during the conference we also extensively discussed with Dzintra Bungs about short term tasks in VRB:)

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