RIGA -- Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis has failed in his attempt to reverse the resignation of Foreign Minsiter Artis Pabriks.
After a brief meeting early on Oct. 22, Kalvitis finally accepted Pabriks' resignation, having initially refused to do so when Pabriks made his intention public three days earlier.
Culture Minister Helena Demakova will add the Foreign Ministry to her portfolio as an interim measure, reported the premier's spokesman Arno Pjatkins.
Pabriks will continue in office for one week. He told Baltic News Service that he and Kalvitis had "a simple talk" and that the premier respected Pabriks' arguments. Tasks already in progress, such as ratification of the Latvian-Russian border treaty, will not be impacted by his resignation, Pabriks claimed.
Pabriks announced his resignation on Friday morning, saying that his opinion differed from the party's views, most notably on the sacking of KNAB anti-corruption department chief Aleksejs Loskutovs.
"I have said my word and I do not plan to change it," said Pabriks. "I am ready to become an ordinary lawmaker," said the former minister, adding that he would remain a memebr of the People's Party.
Demakova's appointment as interim Foreign Minister leaves Kalvitis short of personnel on three fronts. First, there is his failure to appoint an economics minister following the resignation of Juris Strods more than a month ago. Kalvitis himself is fulfilling that brief as well as his Prime Ministerial duties.
Pabriks' resignation occurred on the same day that Regional Development and Municipalities Minister Aigars Stokenbergs was expelled from both government and the People's Party amid accusations that he was undermining party unity. Stokenbergs' duties will now be added t the responsibilities of Finance Minister Oskars Spurdzins.
By Oct. 22, Stokenbergs had confirmed that he intends to return to the politcal fray by forming a brand new party.
Stokenbergs told BNS he plans to meet with dozens of people ocver several weeks to discuss the situation. It will take several weeks, but there is no hurry with formation of a new political party.
"It will be done slowly and profoundly. There is no rush," said Stokenbergs.
Asked about his supporters among People's Party members, he said that their number had reduced since he spoke out about the influence of the party's founder and former prime minister Andris Skele, whom many people regard as the People's Party's eminence gris.
Stokenbergs declined to forecast how many People's Party members might defect to his new force. "I do not plan to actively propagate or call on people to leave the party. People have their own minds," he said.
Asked about possible cooperation with Pabriks, still a People's Party member, Stokenbergs voiced appreciation of his abilities, saying "Pabriks is able to assess what is important for Latvia's international prestige."
Stokenbergs said that as well as his worries about the influence of Skele, his opinion differed from the party's views concerning dismissal of Loskutovs.