Latvia's First Party wants new commissioner

  • 2004-07-15
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - Latvia's First Party said it might nominate party member Juris Lujans, the current economy minister, to become Latvia's commissioner to the European Commission in Brussels, as a replacement for Sandra Kalniete.

Sandra Kalniete, a former foreign minister who is politically nonaligned, was nominated by the previous, New Era-led government.
But since the rise of the minority government over three months ago, the powers-that-be made several attempts to remove public officials appointed by the previous coalition.
If Latvia selects another representative, the president of the commission could reject the nominee if he or she is deemed unqualified.
Interestingly, since the rise of the current minority coalition, the possibility that Kalniete might be replaced was well-known at the European Parliament in Stras-bourg.
The Leta news agency reported that the move could be related a recent dispute within the minority coalition, when the People's Party demanded either the Interior or Transport ministries, both currently controlled by Latvia's First Party. Should Lujans become Latvia's commissioner, then the People's Party would get the vacated post at the Economy Ministry, Leta's sources claim.
The People's Party recently withdrew its demand for another Cabinet post, saying its main priority would be to strengthen the current coalition, citing the shaky support of the center-left National Harmony Party.
The People's Party has also recently asserted that it would back Sandra Kalniete and allow her to keep her post.
Ainars Slesers, Latvia's First Party chairman and deputy prime minister, told Leta that the party would wait for word from the commission on what sector the Latvian commission would be charged with.
"Lujans certainly won't go as the culture commissioner," he was quoted as saying.
Even Prime Minister Indulis Emsis has said they will wait to name a commissioner in hopes of getting a better portfolio.
Yet, according to a European Parliament officials, such a move would be unprecedented and actually go against protocol. The president of the commission distributes appointments only after the person has been chosen by the member state.
A final decision would be made after the commission president was confirmed later this month, Viesturs Silenieks, spokesman for Prime Minister Indulis Emsis, said.