Bērziņš to return as Justice Minister

Take note – story published 9 years and 10 months ago

The board of the right-wing National Alliance (NA) political party ruled Monday to nominate Gaidis Bērziņs to fill the Justice Minister’s post vacated when the incumbent Baiba Broka resigned on July 28.

Bērziņš has served as Minister of Justice under three governments previously – first in Aigars Kalvītis’ cabinet from 7 November 2006 until 20 December 2007; then continuing on in Ivars Godmanis’ cabinet until 12 March 2009.

He became Justice Minister again on 25 November 2011, but unexpectedly resigned on 20 June 2012 from Valdis Dombrovskis’ cabinet, ostensibly over differences of opinion regarding restitution payments to Jewish property owners who had their real estate exproriated during Latvia's Nazi occupation.

Bērziņš currently serves as an elected Saeima member and the Justice Ministry’s parliamentary secretary.

Under Latvia's perpetual succession of coalition governments, political parties generally "claim" different ministries and nominate a replacement whenever one of their number steps down for whatever reason.

Bērziņš told newswire BNS that among the jobs requiring the Justice Minister's immediate attention are finishing the Law on Arbitration Courts, amendments to the Bankruptcy Law, and Electronic Auctions Law to avert corporate raiding, as well as the creation of a list of delinquent non-payers of maintenance payments. 

As reported on July 28, Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers did not overrule a decision by Latvia's intelligence service, the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB), that Broka could not be given security clearance to deal with classified material, despite the very obvious need for such clearance given her job as Justice Minister.

Broka's lack of security clearance – for reasons which have never been clearly specified but which SAB chief Janis Maizitis has described as “very serious” – had been an issue ever since she took office on January 22.

As a member of parliament with the nationalist National Alliance bloc, which prides itself on a tough law-and-order stance, Broka's situation had been politically embarrassing as well as frequently absurd with the Justice Minister having to leave meetings at which her ministerial colleagues discuss classified material.

Minister of Culture Dace Melbārde is serving as acting Justice minister until Broka’s replacement is approved.

The NA tweeted Monday that Broka intends to resume her seat in Riga City Council.

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