Latvian culture minister seeks rapid exit from government

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Less than a week after a new government was approved by a Saeima vote, the first potential change to Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš' cabinet loomed large with Culture Minister Dace Melbārde confirming she would be seeking to swap her seat at the cabinet table for one at the European parliament in Brussels.

Speaking to LTV's Morning Panorama news show, Melbārde said she planned to contest the European parliament elections in May on behalf of the National Alliance.

"I can confirm that I plan to be a candidate in the European elections," she said, adding that it was "hard to say" where on the list of candidates she would be as it was yet to be finalized, but that it would hopefully be among the first names on the list, which would present her with an excellent chance of landing a Brussels posting.

"I have already been culture minister for five and a half years... of course winning a place in the European parliament is not guaranteed, but sometimes it's good to try something new," she said, adding that even if she was successful she hoped to continue her contribution to Latvia's cultural life and processes.

The National Alliance currently has one MEP in Brussels, long-serving Roberts Zīle who first won a seat in 2004.

Melbārde is generally seen as a moderate voice from the National Alliance, which incorporates several sub-parties ranging from traditional conservatives to more right-leaning nationalists.

On the cultural front she said 2019 would be characterised as the 'Heroes Year' in which many events of a century ago which were important to the survival of the young Latvian state would be marked. She rounded off the interview by demonstrating a new board game based on "Latvian values".

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