Politician, diplomat and lyricist Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš passes away

October 14 brought very sad news of the death of one of Latvia's most respected statesmen, Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš. The announcement was made by Saeima speaker Ināra Murniece on social media.

"A very sad message. Politician and diplomat Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš has suddenly left us. His professionalism, deep knowledge, intelligence, humanity will always remain in our memory. Deepest condolences to his loved ones," Mūrniece wrote.

Born in a Munich displaced persons camp in 1949, Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš grew up in Chicago in the United States and attended Roosevelt University in that city. He combined a successful career in advertising with extensive work for various Latvian American organizations before taking on the post of press officer at the Latvian embassy in Washington DC in 1991, followed by a step up to become Latvian ambassador to the US from 1993 to 2000.

Following that, he was head of the Latvian Institute in Rīga before entering the political arena in 2010 as a deputy of the 10th Saeima representing the Vienotība party, a position he maintained until his death, winning re-election to the 11th, 12th and 13th Saeimas. He also served as Chairman of the important Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee for several years. Even within the hurly-burly of political life he was held in very high esteem across the political spectrum for his thoughtful and modest form of patriotism, a fact attested to by the tributes being paid to him.

Away from his political life he was a dedicated family man and also enjoyed a little-known side career as a lyricist for pop songs. As recently as last week he was telling LSM how proud he was of his latest collaboration with the young singer Katrina Gupalo, a song titled "I can I can I can".

Our sincere condolences to Ojārs' family, friends and colleagues. He will be sorely missed. 

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