Kariņš suggests buying jet for government needs

Governments of many countries have their own planes which they use to get to the necessary meetings abroad, and the Latvian government should also evaluate such an opportunity, Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) said in an interview with Latvian Television on November 16.

As reported, opposition MPs had criticized Kariņš' occasional use of private jets during his time as Prime Minister. Kariņš disagreed with the criticism: "The Prime Minister of Latvia must be present [at visits abroad]. The question is, do we want to be part of the process? I insist that we should be active and part of this process,” he stressed.

The politician also advised the current Prime Minister Evika Siliņa (New Unity) to use the opportunity of private flights.

"The Foreign Minister can designate at least three officials in his place [for visits], but at prime ministerial meetings no one else can replace them, one can only ask another country's prime minister to represent them. If there is no Latvia, this [prime minister's] seat [at the negotiating table] is virtually empty,” explained Kariņš.

He did not know how private flight carriers had been chosen. “No prime minister is involved in this. It's the State Chancellery doing this. The Prime Minister is responsible for politics, does not go deep, and is not directly responsible for such issues,“ Kariņš emphasized.

He believes Latvia should evaluate the possibility of purchasing a plane. “I don't know how it's more beneficial – whether to outsource [or own aircraft],” Kariņš added.

As Foreign Minister, he does not currently have the possibility to use private flights, because there is no such money in the Ministry's budget. He currently uses commercial connections but noted that attending one meeting abroad often takes three days because there are no suitable flights. “But the Foreign Minister does not need to lead the government. Internal political issues are still coming to the head of government, so it is especially important for the Prime Minister to use his time [well],” Kariņš said.

“Where's the threat? If you give up the opportunity to use [private flights], the prime minister will decide simply not to travel because it takes time. If that happens, we will fall out [of international circulation],” Kariņš said.

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