Krišjānis Kariņš quits as Latvian Foreign Minister over flights controversy

Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Krišjānis Kariņs, announced his resignation March 28 following a meeting with Prime Minister Evika Siliņa.

Kariņš said in a brief statement to waiting reporters that he will leave his post on April 10 so that on April 11 the Saeima can vote for a replacement. He did not comment further on his decision and left immediately.

Kariņš, who took up the role in September 2023 after a lengthy spell as Prime Minister, has in recent months been dogged by a scandal about his use of expensive flights during this time as head of government.

Despite vowing in December not to resign as a result of the controversy, on Thursday he changed his mind and quit, after it was confirmed last week that the Prosecutor General's office was launching criminal proceedings over possible waste of public money – though as yet there is no indication that Kariņš himself might face charges.

Commenting on the move, Prime Minister Evika Siliņa said Kariņš had represented Latvia well on the international stage while serving as Foreign Minister, but that it was necessary to remove "any shadow of doubt" while the criminal process move forward. 

During his four-year premiership, Krišjānis Kariņš went on 36 foreign visits using private planes, costing more than 1.3 million euros, of which more than 600 thousand came from the state purse, and more than 700 thousand euros were covered by the European Union. In several cases, the expensive flights were used so that Kariņš could return to Latvia on Friday evening, before the holidays. Kariņš justified this with the need to represent Latvia and effective time planning.

His resignation also likely sinks any lingering hopes of his stated desire to become the next NATO Secretary General.

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