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President turns down defense minister as next PM

Dec 11, 2013
From wire reports, RIGA

President turns down defense minister as next PM
Latvian defense minister Artis Pabriks has been turned down as PM

Latvian President Andris Berzins has for a second time rejected the nomination of Defense Minister Artis Pabriks as Prime Minister of Latvia.

Following a second round of talks with parliament members on Dec. 10,  Berzins said  current party candidates did not meet the criteria for the next prime minister.

According to the president, the main reason why no one will be nominated at this time is that the next government should be of higher quality than the current government, so it could solve urgent and complicated matters that deal with the development of the state.

"The president does not support the idea that only such candidates may be nominated who are agreed upon by political parties so they would be supported by the Saeima majority," the president said in a statement to the media.

President Berzins also made critical observations about the Unity political party who put forward Pabriks as PM.

Berzins said: "This political party, which has taken the initiative of forming the next government, has been inconsistent in its criteria for the next premier. One of the original criterion set by Unity for the next prime minister was that he or she should have good understanding of fiscal policy and macroeconomics - which is beyond the competence of the candidate we were discussing during the second round of the consultations," says the statement.

If political parties do not nominate new candidates for the prime minister by the end of the year, President Andris Berzins will name a candidate of his choice on Jan. 7 at the earliest.

"If necessary, I will change my schedule, because this is a priority," said Berzins. 

"This is a process that takes time to come to fruition, just like a good wine."

Nevertheless, if the parties are unable to come to terms, Berzins will nominate his own candidate on Jan. 7, although he declined to reveal the candidate's name.

Closing the second round of political consultations with the parties represented in parliament, Berzins said today that he had decided not to nominate any of the prime minister candidates put forward by the parties.

Pabriks  was the only official candidate for the premier's job in the second round.

"I am confident that the range of persons who could be nominated is much broader than the few candidates mentioned so far. There are many people who could become good heads of the government. I am waiting for the political parties represented in Saeima to nominate real candidates," said Berzins.

The government reshuffle comes after Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said he would be stepping down after the Riga supermarket collapse last month that left 54 dead and dozens injured. Dombrovskis said he was taking political responsibility for the disaster. 

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