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Cablegate: Zatlers Takes Office As New Latvian President

VZCZCXRO8817
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRA #0506 1911226
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101226Z JUL 07 ZDK CTG RUEHSD SVC #0010
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4159
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS RIGA 000506

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (SIGNATURE ADDED)

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL LG
SUBJECT: ZATLERS TAKES OFFICE AS NEW LATVIAN PRESIDENT

Ref: Riga 416, Riga 392

1. (U) New Latvian President Valdis Zatlers was inaugurated July 8,
taking over the presidency from Vaira Vike-Freiberga who had served
for eight years. A surgeon and head of the National Trauma
Hospital, Zatlers was put forward as the candidate of Latvia's
ruling centre-right coalition and elected by lawmakers on May 31 as
the third president of Latvia since independence was restored in
1991.

2. (U) Zatlers' reputation was dented ahead of his election after he
acknowledged accepting and failing to declare income on payments
from patients as gratitude for their medical care. Zatlers denied
any wrongdoing and commented that the focus on such payments
demonstrates a failure of legislation to address the practice. A
number of institutions are involved in investigating his failure to
declare the income received and are working on official conclusions.
Last week, Zatlers was fined only 250 Lats ($490 USD) by the
Latvian Revenue Service for filing inaccurate tax returns, while
Latvia's anti-corruption bureau is still probing the case.

3. (U) In his rather short official inauguration speech, Zatlers
briefly touched upon foreign relations. He noted that "we should
remain committed partners; we should foster the transatlantic
dialogue. A strong European Union and NATO are the guarantees for
Latvia's welfare and security". He concluded that "foreign policy
requires well-balanced decisions in domestic policy; lack of such
decisions makes any successful co-operation either with close or
faraway partners impossible".

BAILEY

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