Latvian local governments do not align with national policy in the field of international cooperation

Rihards Kols, Chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian parliament, 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 existing laws do not oblige local governments to coordinate their international co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At a meeting of the Committee, 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”.

“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.

In future, local governments must be obliged to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about any planned agreement before concluding it.

Though no specific examples were given, Kols said there were “a number of problematic cases.”

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