With his remarks Lembergs has spat in face to Canadian soldiers stationed in Adazi - Smiltens

  • 2023-08-31
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - With his remarks, former Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs (For Latvia and Ventspils) has spat in the face to the Canadian soldiers stationed at the Adazi military base, one of the United List leaders Edvards Smiltens said today after a meeting with President Edgars Rinkevics.

Smiltens said that a week ago, Lembergs, who is Greens/Farmers' former prime minister nominee, released a video on social media in which he "clearly states" that he will be represented in the government and that the US, not the Canadian armed forces, will be stationed in Latvia, and that they will be stationed in trenches, not barracks.

"This is actually a questioning, I will say it more directly, a slap in the face to the Canadian soldiers who are currently stationed at the Adazi base and are leading the 12-nation enhanced forward presence mission for Latvia's defense. They are ready to give their lives to defend Latvia," the politician said.

Smiltens also noted the agreements reached at the NATO summit in Madrid that the US would be in charge of the battle group in Poland, Germany would lead the group in Lithuania, Canada would be the framework nation of the battle group in Latvia and the UK would be in charge of the group in Estonia.

"The Canadians are strategically important. Any kind of insult or discrediting represents a risk to inter-state relations and such missions. An agreement has been reached with the Canadians to increase the battle group to the brigade level. This is fundamental to Latvia's national security interests," Smiltens said.

In the video released on social media, Lembergs says that "the United List of the People's Party and Rudolf Meroni, its leaders - Maris Kucinskis, Smiltens, Edgars Tavars - are terrified of what might happen if Lembergs is let come close to the government.

"It will happen! I will be in favor of having not a Canadian contingent in Latvia, but a US contingent, and at least 10,000 men, not in barracks, but in trenches with full equipment and armaments, so that Latvia has the most advanced missile defense, air defense and coastal defense system," Lembergs boasts in the video.

As reported, prime minister-designate Evika Silina (New Unity) said at a news conference Wednesday that If there are indications that a cabinet minister has fallen under the influence of a sanctioned person, including former Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, she reserves her right to remove such ministers from their posts.

In Silina's words, such a provision will be included in the documents that will be adopted in the government formation process and it will apply to all cabinet ministers regardless of the political party they represent.

Asked if these documents will specifically mention the name of Lembergs, Silina said that this question has not been discussed yet. Keeping any sanctioned persons from involvement in the government's work is what matters, Silina stressed.

The prime minister-designate is also determined to bar any unelected persons from participation in government formation talks and the work of the government coalition.

Siliņa also believes that the United List should take some kind of responsibility for the "Lembergs factor", because they have been very vocal in signaling possible "threats", and many United List members have worked with Lembergs in the past.

"I think it is also a challenge for them [United List] to show to the public that those who have worked with Lembergs in the past will be able to ensure sufficient independence from him," the prime minister-designate said.

As reported, Silina is still waiting for the final decision of the United List on the proposal to work in a four-party coalition with the New Unity, the Union of Greens and Farmers Union and the Progressives.

Silina is ready to hear the United List representatives today, at the same time the politician "will move ahead" with the government formation and the United List has to decide how to act in this situation.

Today, Silina is expected to invite the United List, the Union of Greens and Farmers and the Progressives to meetings. "The United List will be able to outline what else they want to say, but I want to remind you that the president has entrusted me with forming this government," the prime minister-designate stressed, saying that she has also been entrusted with the responsibility "for the models of the government". She still wants "a broad enough coalition".

"This means that the United List has to decide what they will do next," said Silina, pointing out that it is a matter of choice for the United List whether they join and continue negotiations.

Asked whether a decision from the United List would be expected this week, the politician said: "We are definitely moving forward in smooth steps already this week. Those partners who are concerned that they will lose control, possibly in a position of power, they have to decide whether they are ready to show their voters that they can deliver on the promises they have made to the voters, or whether they will continue to look for 'different models' to find a more comfortable position of power for themselves."

Today, New Unity will meet with the United List, the Union of Greens and Farmers and the Progressives to discuss areas of responsibility with the partners of the future coalition, but the posts will not be distributed yet.

Silina said after her conversation with Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics that the president was probably still waiting for the broadest possible coalition.

As reported, Silina today reported to Rinkevics on the progress of the government formation talks.