• 2000-04-20
A recent survey by Transparency International on perception of corruption found that about 75 percent of the people living in Latvia do not think it is possible to get ahead by honest means.

We will stay mum this time and yield to President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who addressed the following remarks to a meeting of the Association of Intellectuals in Riga on April 15.

President Vike-Freiberga:

"We need to push forward decisions that are part of a political process, in which not only government, political parties and politicians are involved, but quite the opposite - in these decisions, of establishing priorities, the broadest spectrum of society should take part.

"Everyone should participate in the debates, to help crystallize what our priorities of development are going to be, and how we hope to attain them.

"Unfortunately, up to now in Latvia, our economic and industrial development programs have not been promoted clearly enough. Investors and companies in Latvia are complaining that Latvia as yet lacks clear, stable rules of the game in its business environment.

"They would like to have more security, more clarity about the legislative framework, and they wish that the rules of the game by which business is run were formulated clearly, used objectively, were intelligible to everyone and implemented in the same way. They would prefer the rules to be the same for everyone, from friend to friend and one economic group to another economic group.

"We need a rule of state law in which there is one law for all, and business activities correspond to the free market system requirements, where there is no secret support through corruption or otherwise. Corruption, by the way, is one of the obstacles to surmount. Corruption is the disease of the society and it, as all diseases, threatens and is present in all communities."

(Translation by Antra Linarte)

Vike-Freiberga deserves applause for taking a stand against business as usual, especially during the wheeling and dealing among parties to select a new prime minister. Recovery from passivity learned in old days can start with a president who demonstrates a willingness to say "No."