Kols: local government should align with national policy on international cooperation

Rihards Kols (National Alliance), Chairman of the influential Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday, September 15 that the policies and actions of Latvia's municipalities need to be in alignment with foreign policy goals at national level. 

“The activities of local governments, as well as any Latvian institutions and officials, must be in line with Latvia's foreign policy position. What has been observed so far shows that there are local governments that believe that they can act differently and go against the position defined by the state - and this is not acceptable,” Kols said at a meeting of the Committee.

At the meeting, the Commission supported a proposal to establish in law an obligation for local governments to coordinate their international co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The need to supplement the existing regulatory framework arose in response to a number of individual cases in which one of Latvia's local government entities developed or planned to expand cooperation with foreign partners or participate in initiatives that partially or completely do not comply with Latvian and European Union positions and policies, Kols explained.

"In future, local governments must be obliged to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about any planned agreement before concluding it. This would promote a correct and supervised practice in which Latvian local governments act in accordance with the common state foreign policy, its goals and common values. At present, unfortunately, we tend to find ourselves in situations when local governments have chosen to follow a path that is completely contrary to the common policy of the state, thus allowing, for example, the spread of hostile or distorted narratives to the state in Latvia,” Kols said. 

Though no specific examples were given in the Saeima account of the meeting, Kols said there were "a number of problematic cases."

The existing laws do not oblige local governments to coordinate their international co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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