RIGA - Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics believes that the flights of former prime minister and current Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) on private planes might not be reasonable and economically beneficial.
In an interview with the Latvian public television today, Rinkevics agreed that politicians should be able to use special flights during Covid-19 and for various unplanned visits. However, he is concerned whether this has become a practice where proportionality and the cheapest options are no longer assessed.
"It has to be said here that the information we get shows that this was probably not the case and that commercial flights could have been used," the president said.
He also believes that Karins' communication about the situation has not been very successful, stressing that this needs to be explained to the public. The explanations of the State Chancellery are also not sufficient.
As reported, Karins agrees with the criticism of the use of private jets in his trips, but stressed that this has been an opportunity to meet world leaders as quickly as possible in difficult logistical conditions and thus strengthen Latvia's role in the European Union (EU) and NATO.
The State Chancellery has prepared information for LETA on the former prime minister's international visits over the past three years, which included both regular and special flights. The information gathered shows that Karins used private aircraft 18 times, the cost of which, depending on the number of flights and delegation members, ranged from EUR 14,337 to EUR 49,950.
Karins explained that during his time as the prime minister, the world experienced two shocks - the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine - which disrupted air traffic and caused a total or partial disruption in the availability of commercial flights.
The former prime minister also stressed that the war in Ukraine also significantly increased the role of foreign policy in his work.
Karins also pointed out that over the years as the prime minister, he has developed good relations with many EU leaders and governments, which is why he has taken the opportunity to engage directly with them, on visits and at events organized by EU leaders. "Often, visits were organized at the last minute, their duration was not foreseeable and special flights were used to make them," Karins explained.