Krustpunktā

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Krustpunktā

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Krustpunktā Valsts prezidenta amata kandidāti E. Levits, J. Jansons un D. Šmits

Latvian presidential contenders make their pitches on the airwaves

With just two days to go before Latvia chooses its next State President, the three contenders for the position were making their cases to be elected on Latvian Radio May 27.

A special edition of the Krustpunktā (At the Crossroads) radio show saw Egils Levits, Janis Jansons and Didzis Šmits saying what they would do if installed in Rīga Castle for the next four years.

Asked if they would be prepared to go to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid did recently, all three said there would be circumstances in which such a visit would be possible and others in which it would be inadvisable. 

"It would depend upon the theme [of the trip]... for May 9th, no," said Jansons. May 9th is the day upon which Russia celebrates victory in the second world war, a thorny issue in the Latvian context where it is seen as the start of another period of occupation.

"Latvia's State President has to do everything to support Latvia's national interests... if talks would do something in that regard, then they could happen... how many times has Putin met with Merkel in recent years?" asked Šmits, while underlining that such talks could only happen if Latvia stood to gain from them in a concrete way.

"I don't know Ms Kaljulaid's reasons for going, but if I go to Tallinn I could ask her," quipped Levits before answering more seriously: "It's very naive to think the state president goes to Moscow, drinks vodka and that's all. If it was with the perspective of improving relations it could be possible... [but] my priority would be that cooperation between Latvia and Russia takes place in the European context." Care would need to be taken that any meeting with Putin did not send a signal counter to Latvia's western and European orientation, he insisted.

All three also said they did not support the idea of non-citizens being given the ability to vote in local elections in Latvia and that the use of Latvian in the school system should be compulsory. Indeed on almost all issues they appeared to be in close alignment, though one exception was the question of whether e-voting should be allowed, as has happened in Estonia for a decade now. Šmits said it should be possible, while Levits in particular was against, saying had Estonia had "run a risk" in introducing e-voting. 

As previously reported by LSM, the three men will be subject to Saeima votes on May 29. We have prepared brief biographies of each candidate too: Jansons, Šmits, Levits and a feature explaining the election process

Levits is the hot favorite to become president, having secured backing from all but one coalition parties. If you would like to see all three in action, you can do so above - though it's in Latvian.

 

 

 

 

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