President Vike-Freiberga defends criticism of NGOs

  • 2004-08-12
  • By The Baltic Times
RIGA ? President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said in an interview published on Wednesday that despite pressure from the press she was sticking to her critical position on the recent protest against Parliamentary Speaker and European commissioner-designee Ingrida Udre organized by the local chapter of Transparency International.

Speaking to the Neatkariga Rita Avize daily, the president voiced confusion as to the ?illegal activities of the public organization,? especially considering that Delna, the name of the chapter, has declared the promotion of democratic standards as its goal.
?I was surprised by the very emotional and heightened reaction that even lead to an unsanctioned protest. It is especially unacceptable that an organization acts illegally, though its goals are the promotion of democratic standards in the country,? the president said. ?This I feel is inadequate and surprising.?
Most of all, the president was taken by Delna?s calls that Udre resign.
?I think it is strange that an official?s resignation is being demanded only because a group of people doesn't like her as a Eurocommissioner candidate.?
The president said that NGOs can express their opinion, but that doesn't mean that others must listen.
?We have a representative democracy ? we can slander our representatives but can not recall them until the next elections,? said Vike-Freiberga. Udre was nominated by Prime Minister Indulis Emsis despite the lack of support in his Cabinet and the fact that Sandra Kalniete, who had been nominated by the previous government, had already begun to familiarize herself with the job.
Udre should begin her position as Eurocommissioner for customs and taxation on Nov. 1 after confirmation by the European Parliament.