President refuses to meet left-wing party

  • 2001-05-10
  • BNS
RIGA - Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga refused to meet representatives of the left-wing alliance For Human Rights in a United Latvia on May 8, as the alliance's members of parliament were to be accompanied to the meeting by former communist activists Tatyana Zhdanok and Alfreds Rubiks.

The president's office, however, put the issue another way. It claimed the president wanted to meet MPs and not any other representatives.

President Vike-Freiberga had planned to meet representatives from all parliamentary factions. For Human Rights faction leader Janis Jurkans said the president had told him that she would not be meeting the leftists in their suggested composition, suggesting that the party's members of parliament see her on May 11.

"I will not go on Friday either, because if the president can't meet the leaders of parties represented in Parliament and the Riga City Council, then there is something wrong with democracy in our country," said Jurkans.

Answering the question of whether Rubiks and Zhdanok were the reason for Vike-Freiberga not meeting the leftists, the president's spokeswoman Aiva Rozenberga said, "I would rephrase the question. The president wanted to meet with MPs."

After the May 8 meeting with all parliamentary factions in order to discuss Latvia's domestic and foreign policy priorities, the president told reporters she had refused to meet with For Human Rights in a United Latvia because they voted against the bill about national defense allocations.

"I want to meet with MPs and find out why they voted against it, but I do not want to meet with the party leaders," said Vike-Freiberga.

Reports found in the Baltic News Service archives show that individual MPs from the ruling coalition parties of Latvia's Way and the People's Party had also voted against the defense budget bill and were afterwards sharply criticized by another ruling coalition party, For Fatherland and Freedom.

At the time the issue was even put before the Coalition Council. But the president has not invited these dissenting lawmakers for a separate meeting as she did with the For Human Rights in a United Latvia MPs.

In response to earlier comments by For Human Rights faction leader Janis Jurkans, Vike-Freiberga also said it was Jurkans' privilege not to show up for the meeting with her.