Berzins begins assembling team

  • 2011-06-15
  • From wire reports

DARK CLOUDS: Andris Berzins, who replaces current President Valdis Zatlers (right) on July 7, has many questioning his choices for his staff.

RIGA - When the newly-elected president of Latvia, Andris Berzins (Union of Greens and Farmers), chose Saeima Deputy Chairman Gundars Daudze (Union of Greens and Farmers) as the new head of the President’s Chancery, he proved that he wants to “privatize” it, said Transparency International-Latvia (Delna) Director Kristaps Petermanis, reports news agency LETA. “Current President Valdis Zatlers proposed Saeima’s dissolution, and emphasized that the parliament belongs to the people and should not serve the oligarchs. The nation will support Zatlers’ motion. Therefore, Berzins will have to restore society’s trust in the state and its institutions, and prove that he is not influenced by [Ventspils Mayor] Aivars Lembergs,” said Petermanis.

Petermanis added that, unfortunately, Berzins’ decision to appoint Daudze indicates that he pursues other interests, namely the “privatization” of the chancery.
Berzins on June 13 reached an agreement that Saeima Deputy Chairman Gundars Daudze (Union of Greens and Farmers) will become the new head of the President’s Chancery. Daudze was previously employed in several leading positions, and was also a chairman of the ninth Saeima.

Berzins says he highly values Daudze’s experience, which will be useful at the Presidential Chancery.
The decision to appoint Daudze as the new head of the President’s Chancery is rather unusual, since active high-ranking politicians are rarely chosen for such a position, said political scientist Ivars Ijabs.
Ijabs believes that there is no point in blaming Berzins, since his term in office has not even started. However, his decision to choose a person from Ventspils as the head of the President’s Chancery will cause rumors and conspiracy theories that will not favor the president-elect.

Commenting on Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs’ (For Latvia and Ventspils) possible influence over Berzins, Ijabs emphasized that Berzins “will not allow anyone to do anything behind his back.”
“Hopefully, Berzins understands the consequences of his decision,” pointed out Ijabs. The political scientist also expressed hope that Daudze will be able cope with his new duties, since the Saeima deputy chairman spent his past years at the Saeima Presidium, which differs greatly from the Chancery.

Eriks Ozols will maintain his previous position at the Presidential Chancery and will be Daudze’s deputy. Andris Pelss will remain as the president’s adviser on foreign affairs.
Berzins previously offered Unity MP, former Defense Minister Imants Viesturs Liegis, to take the post of his adviser, and Liegis could accept the offer, reported the portal “I have talked this over with the president-elect. We agreed to discuss it again in the near future,” said Liegis.

On June 2, Berzins was elected as the new president of Latvia. Fifty-three Saeima deputies voted for Berzins during the second vote of the presidential election - 44 against. Ninety-nine Saeima members participated in the vote, submitting 97 valid ballots.