Latvian President Rinkēvičs goes on first regional visit

President Edgars Rinkēvičs went on his first regional visit on July 21 to Krāslava, Latgale, to meet with the management of the local government, lead businesspeople, farmers and representatives of the educational sector, Latvian Radio reported. 

Krāslava was chosen as the first visit with the intention to prove that "Latgale is also an important region of Latvia and that Europe is actually beginning here, not ending".

“Krāslava celebrates its hundredth year. It's a kind of a congratulations, too. I want to visit virtually all the municipalities of Latvia, that is my commitment. I have, of course, a great interest in getting acquainted with both the conditions of people's lives and their concerns,” the President said.

Several entrepreneurs of Krāslava municipality spoke about specific problems, such as restrictions on Latvian bank lending in Latgale and disagreements with the “Distribution Network” on the amount of electricity needed, in the hope of the president's support in bringing up the issues at the government level.

The representative of the Latvian Rural Consultation and Education Center in Krāslava Ivars Geiba expressed concern about the lack of support for east border farmers.He is also the owner of a peasant farm called “Kurmīši”, which deals with the cultivation and processing of organically certified medicinal plants in the border area. This holding was also visited today by the President of the State.

"It feels like the aid that comes from Riga is going to stop at a hundred kilometers, and it does not reach the outermost regions. Perhaps it is also necessary to strengthen the eastern border: to start distributing funds, a percentage increase, to give aid directly to regions from the border area. More support is needed here in the border area," said Geiba.

In response to Geiba's proposal, the President of Latvia talked about seeking opportunities to determine the special Eastern Border status for Latgale in the next cycle of the European Union budget planning.

Meanwhile, Lidija Miglāne, head of the Krāslava Municipality Education Board, highlighted the issue of school closures.

"In 1995, when I started working in education, there were 33 schools in the municipality of Krāslava with 4,360 learners, currently there are 10, and 1,760 learners. It is a complex issue at national policy level whether people are needed at all in the eastern border, whether they will stay here and live, and then the network of schools, well-being, transport and everything else," Miglāne said.

In view of the geopolitical situation, a separate President's visit to the eastern border area is also planned soon.

“I'm really worried about what is happening on the border, about building the border. A whole day needs to be spent there. But, I think that even in the course of the talks today, border issues are likely to be on the agenda,” the President of State said.

The next regional visit to the president is planned next week in Kurzeme, heading to the municipality of Kuldīga.

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