President of Latvia Egils Levits met with a delegation of NGO representatives including Director of the Civic Alliance Kristīne Zonberga, Chairperson of the Board of Zemgale NGO Centre Uldis Dūmiņš, President of the European Movement in Latvia Andris Gobiņš, Director of PROVIDUS Iveta Kažoka, and Chairperson of the Board of Association Ascendum Zaiga Pūce to discuss issues of civic society participation and the development of NGO sector in the Riga Castle today.
During the conversation, one stated that a modern and sustainable society was one, where citizens had the opportunity to be heard and to participate in high-quality decision-making affecting their lives either directly or through their representatives acting in NGOs. The President of Latvia expressed his readiness to support issues essential for the development of the non-governmental sector. Egils Levits supported the need to discuss and define the NGO sector in a more detailed way by separating NGOs focused on the common good structurally.
It was emphasised during the meeting that non-governmental organisations played a major role in collaborating with the government and local governments as a partner and that one should ensure transparent, participation-oriented distribution of funding for the non-governmental sector in the country. They considered the practice of European countries of engaging the NGO sector in a dialogue with government, and they discussed the negative impact on NGO activities that had emerged in the last two years after tax reform.
While discussing the issue of infrastructure availability for the NGO sector, Mr Gobiņš made an offer to discuss the possibility of transforming the former KGB building, or the so-called “Corner House”, into a Democracy House, where various non-governmental organisations could operate after its renovation.