Latvian PM denies influence of Skele

  • 2007-10-30
  • In association with BNS

RIGA -- Latvian prime minister Aigars Kalvitis meets the founder of his political party, Andris Skele, approximately once a month, he says.

Speaking on the political TV show 'Kas Notiek Latvija?' (What Happens in Latvia?), Kalvitis said: "Skele is the founder of the People's Party, and a current member, who does not actively participate in political processes at present."

"I, as prime minister, happen to meet Skele once a month, on average. He does not actively involve [himself] in political processes. He sometimes visits the People's Party office, some time ago he participated in party board meetings, sometimes he calls and asks how are things going, but I do not consider this to be active participation."

As well as being a former prime minister and founder of the People's Party, Andris Skele is one of the richest men in the Baltics with numerous business interests.

"I do not remember our government taking a decision linked to the interests of an individual," said Kalvitis, commenting on media reports that Skele exerts influence over political decision-making in the country.

Kalvitis pointed out that in contrast to his own infrequent meetings with Skele, sacked minister Aigars Stokenbergs "meets Skele every week." He also said that he took the reason to sack Stockenbergs and expel him from the People's Party because he had been planning to form a new political party for three months, while still a member of the government.

"If an individual is establishing a new party for three months, while being the member of People's Party and closest colleague of the prime minister, at the same time occupying a position in the government, it is definitely not fair on his part," said Kalvitis.

"If you are so honest, tell me: Kalvitis, we are disappointed with you. We are creating a new party. These guys do not have courage to say it to your face. They play their own game, I wish them luck," he added.