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Martins Bondars: „I am ready to become Prime Minister”

Martins Bondars/LETA.
“The first thing I know about myself is that I want to live in Latvia”, to latviannews.lv portal stated the former head of the President’s Chancellery Martins Bondars. “And everything I do and will do is to make the life good in here.” “Would you possibly want to become Prime Minister?” we asked. “Yes,” our guest admitted without any false modesty, “if it will be required for the life in Latvia to ameliorate.”

It is too early yet to describe Martins Bondars as a politician. He has not joined any party, even though The Reform Party has asked him to be its candidate for the mayor’s office in Riga and Janis Jurkans proposed to the Harmony Centre to nominate him for the Prime Minister’s position. He also found some time to appear in the advert of the association For Latvia’s Development. Nevertheless, he is very cautious when asked about his further plans.

Many people quite unsurprisingly regard Martins Bondars as an untapped resource in Latvian politics. His track record includes management of the President’s Chancellery and business corporations, course of studies in Harvard: experience, energy, and relations. He has studied in the USA, has lived abroad, and yet does want to live in Latvia: in successful Latvia. And he wishes the same to all of us.

Prime Minister at last has displayed some will

Recent dismissal of the Director of Latvian National Opera has become a political issue. After him our Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis dismissed also the minister of culture Zaneta Jaunzeme-Grende. Does it mean that in our singing country the Opera is able to overthrow the government?
Right! As to the Opera’s ability to overthrow the government… In short, I was astonished that the Prime Minister at last started to do his job. After three and a half years he became bold enough to decide on his colleagues who are reporting to him. Before that there were many situations asking for decision... And what did we observe?
This was the first incident, where the Prime Minister revealed his will. However, not of his own accord, but after the blessing from the party, which turned out to be mandatory. I was hoping that we have the Latvian government; apparently we don’t.
Let us delve into situations asking for solution. For example, the problems with "Liepājas metalurgs" appeared long before their promulgation. And during all this time the Prime Minister failed to launch any actual measures.
As to "Liepājas metalurgs": as far as I am concerned, the government apparently became aware of the problem as early as last November. The same applies to "airBaltic" — its problems surfaced several months before the public statement of loss. Yet both the Prime Minister and the government obviously were waiting for the problem to dissolve. On nine occasions out of ten it works: the problems disappear. Yet, the tenth one invariably becomes explosive!
For me it was obvious that the situation with "Liepājas metalurgs" will not dissolve, as it will not with airBaltic. Nevertheless, no one from the government was willing to make decisions.
As with the minister of culture: was no one aware that we have problems with the current minister of culture? It was obvious after her first public appearance…

The loan is spent. What now?

Recently the ex-politician Janis Jurkans unexpectedly propounded to the Harmony Centre to nominate you for the Prime Minister’s position. What do you think about such prospective?
What I certainly know about myself is that I want to live in Latvia. And everything I do as Martins Bondars, as a member of some non-governmental organization, in business or (if required) in politics I will do to live good in this country. I was born here, yet spent several years abroad, meaning that I can compare the things. And I want to live here. I am aware of the fact that my aspirations are in no way correspondent to the goals of Brussels, Frankfurt, Washington or any other spot on the earth. This is why I am at ease. As a free person I can make the decisions that will let the people here to live normally. What do we need? All of us have children. We sometimes need to go to hospital. We need security. And so on…

Isn’t the introduction of the euro the most important thing?

See, the people who currently are at the head assert that the top priority of Latvia is joining the euro zone. Anyway, the euro is no more than purely technical matter, the criteria were met, and that was about it.
And what will happen afterwards in the country? Hundreds of thousand able-bodied people, who were paying taxes, were compelled to leave because of the economic policies of the last four years. At the same time the social system remained solidary. Number of people who are working and paying for ordinary things we all needs is shrinking. Services secured by the state do not decrease on the paper, while their actual drop is obvious: both in hospitals and at schools; everywhere. How long can we pretend? Sure, Mr. Dombrovskis managed to take a big loan from International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. But the loan is spent, that’s it. It lasted for three and a half years. What now?

Did the Harmony Centre make any propositions to you, or it was no more than the fantasies of Jurkans?
No… As to elections-2014, except for the hints dropped by the association For Latvia’s Development I have had no discussions with anybody else...

If a party were founded on basis of the association For Latvia’s Development, would your participation be a possibility?
I would re-phrase this question. Is my participation in the political processes in 2014 a possibility? Yes, it is.

What issue might open the doors to the next Parliament?

It seems to me that any pre-election campaign based on very simple slogans, like: We will have no corruption, would fail. Right now pre-election proposals to the people are more complicated - on the one hand. On the other hand, everything is quite clear. There is just one goal: to make the people want to live in Latvia.
Of course, jobs are needed to avoid stagnation of the labor market.
The second thing is, of course, the public health, where the deficit (pardon me for the word) is clearly visible in everything: funds, human resources in some fields, organization... Doctors have told me: as soon as the patient is taken in by their hospital it automatically means subtraction of 50 lats from its budget. It should not be like this, it is an abnormality. Either we pretend that our medical care is free, or we try to establish a model where we are clearly aware of distinction between free and paid services.
We say that ours is the smallest share of GPD to be allocated for the public healthcare. On the other hand, our outlays for public healthcare are ones of the highest if compared to GDP. How can it be? Public participation is 3.5%; the remaining costs are covered by the patient. Even the poor pay anyway - for the medication, doctors, etc. The situation is far from normal.
And, of course, there is education. For the people to plan their future here, they must see that their children will enjoy the education to be competitive at least on regional, if not on the worldwide scale.

Jobs, education, medical care - is that all?
Of course, not; we should add the capital conditions. You see, there will be no jobs without the capital. On the one hand a human, on the other hand the capital. Both are the most shifting things nowadays. Free travel of the capital over the world; and the same goes for people.
Today, a professional is able to work anywhere. For instance, today my friend sent me a text from Congo - he is working there. Others are working in the U.S. You are free to choose. Yet, what should do the rest of us, people wanting to live here, in Latvia and pinning on it our professional hopes? How to make the people want to live in Latvia; the capital to be placed here? Sure, it also is the question of resources - how much does the placement of resources cost? Look, what is going on now...

What is going on is that Norwegians are closing their businesses. Even Aldaris is closing down. Is it not profitable to operate here?
We have lost our buying capacity, market volume. The number of buyers is such that it is enough to keep the tag Aldaris, while producing the beer in another country. It is happening. And the reason lies in the approved economic policy. Of course, we can repeat beautiful words, like “the story of success”.
I want to comprehend, where does this “great success” lie? I am told that the country was saved from the bankruptcy, default. Sorry, I haven’t seen any country with debt of 9% of the GDP, which could possibly get bankrupt. What I know is that in case of fire first are rescued people, leaving the other things behind. In our fire people were completely forgotten.

Wrong people in wrong positions

Martins, from your words it is impossible to deduce whether you stick up for the Rights or the Lefts…
You see, neither right nor left-wing parties are feasible in this world anymore.

How so? Is it over?
Yes. Because, on the one hand, you have to take care about people, which always has been left-wingers’ policy; on the other hand, you have to take care about the capital, which implies right-wing policy.

It has always been like this!

Well, you see, while there were borders, it was possible to regulate both human flows and capitals.
Now, we have no borders at all - neither for the capital nor for people; moreover, we have technologies, which contribute to very fast dissemination of information and its impact on situation. For this reason alone the policy has changed. And if we wanted to be the Rights or the Lefts, we would never succeed.

Tatyana Fast, Vladimir Vigman, freecity.lv 

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