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Valdis Zatlers

Valdis Zatlers

Annual Report 2009

Dialogue with the people of Latvia 

President Zatlers very much appreciates the opportunity for ongoing dialogue with the people of Latvia, and he has met with people from a wide variety of groups at his office or while on regional visits. One of the key priorities in President Zatlers’ job is to ensure reciprocal links with the people of Latvia.

 

 

During the course of 2009, the President held more than 40 meetings with people from various non-governmental organisations. He particularly focused on dialogue with social and co-operation partners in the preparation of the national budget – the Latvian Association of Labour Unions, the Latvian Confederation of Employers, the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Latvian Association of Local Governments. The President also met with the Elections Reform Association to hear their ideas on the possible reforms of the country’s electoral system. He met with rectors from Latvia’s higher education institutions to discuss financing for higher education, with press and book publishers about the increase in the VAT at the beginning of 2009, and with representatives of other non-governmental organisations and sectoral associations to discuss aspects of education, medicine, culture, social affairs, agriculture, and other areas at a time when government financing is becoming more scarce.

 

The most extensive opportunity for President Zatlers to meet with local residents, to hear their views, and to explain the current issues in the country, is during his regional visits. Whenever the President returns from such a visit, he discusses what he has learned with the Prime Minister and with the relevant government ministers. In 2009 President Zatlers visited 47 locations, some of them more than once. 25 of these were working visits, and during these, the President met with local residents 21 times. So far the President has visited all of Latvia’s major cities, as well as 54 of the country’s administrative districts (46% of the total).

 

 

The President also learns what the people are thinking from letters that he receives. In 2009, he received 10,287 letters from Latvia and other countries. Most correspondents wrote about aspects of state and public affairs, particularly focusing on the economic situation in Latvia. People were worried about the economic crisis and its solutions. Many complained about the reduction in their pensions. People also complained about the fact that less money was available for interest-based education and sports, about the deterioration of quality indicators in general and higher education, and about the long-term quality of education in Latvia.

 

Also in 2009, the people of Latvia wrote to the President about the development of agriculture, the work of the Latvian Parliament and Cabinet of Ministers, tax policies, wage cuts for police officers, the health sector (particularly the closure of hospitals), as well as poverty and unemployment in the countryside. People offered proposals as to how the work of the system of governance could be improved, how the economic situation could be developed, and what could be done to reduce unemployment in the country.

 

President Zatlers received 663 greetings on the 91st anniversary of Latvia’s establishment, at Christmas, New Year’s, Easter and the Summer Solstice from private individuals, organisations, institutions, companies, government officials, schools, foreign heads of state and government, international organisations, and Latvians abroad.