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President of Latvia urges to define historical Latvian lands and rights of local communities in legislation after the regional reform


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On 24 March 2020, President of Latvia Egils Levits sent his comments on the proposed Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas for the third reading in the Saeima.

According to the President, legislative proposal does not have enough emphasis on democratic inclusiveness of local communities and strengthening of cultural and historical identity despite the second reading.

Egils Levits urged the parliament to pass a special law to make common identity stronger and preserve cultural and historic environment. The new law should also promote sustainable cities and districts in historical Latvian lands – Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme, Zemgale and Sēlija.

President Levits thinks that the proposed Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas should give all local communities strong assurance of parliament’s will and determination to respect and protect their identity and integrity.

‘It is my priority to propose legislation that would legally define the historical Latvian lands, each district’s and town’s place in specific historical Latvian land – Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme, Zemgale and Sēlija. Law should also define specific tasks of central and local government in strengthening of their identity and integrity,’ stressed the President of Latvia Egils Levits.

President of Latvia invited Cabinet of Ministers to ‘draft and deliver to the parliament a law giving local communities (towns and districts) right to hold democratic elections to appoint their representatives and authority to decide local issues’ by 31 December 2020.

Egils Levits has already urged the Saeima Administrative-Territorial Reform Committee to support stronger local communities (towns and districts) by giving them opportunity to elect their representatives in a democratic way and authority to decide local issues if there are enough local resources. That is why Egils Levits has suggested to mention the political consensus and specific task of the Cabinet of Ministers to draft the law according to the position of the parliament in transitional provisions of this draft law already now.

Letter of the President to the Saeima also raises several conceptual aspects and other issues to be considered by the parliament before the third reading. In his letter, Egils Levits reminds the Saeima and Administrative-Territorial Reform Committee of their obligation to ensure that legislative process is successfully completed and the adopted law meets the common interests of the society and promotes balanced and sustainable development of all regions of Latvia.

In his letter, President also reminds that the third reading is the phase where proposed law is fine-tuned to a point that there is less resistance to regional reform. It is a time for meaningful compromises and laying the groundwork for smooth implementation of the administrative-territorial reform. President Levits urged parliamentarians to ensure that the same legal principles are used and applied throughout the articles of the same law to avoid unreasonable inconsistencies in this law, which is of crucial importance to virtually every resident of Latvia.

President of Latvia Egils Levits specifically underlined that Latvia need regional reform and he supports its implementation.

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