The decision of the Latvian government and Jose Manuel Barroso to withdraw the nomination of Ingrida Udre, who faces charges of illegal political party funding, is a tribute to the power of civil society protests in Latvia
The decision by the Latvian government to withdraw the candidacy of Ingrida Udre, who had been designated as the new European Commissioner for taxation and customs union, is "a welcome step, responding to civil society calls for her candidacy to be withdrawn", said Miklos Marschall, Director for Europe and Central Asia of Transparency International, the world's leading non-governmental organisation engaged in combating corruption.
Delna, Transparency International's national chapter in Latvia, had protested against the candidacy of Ingrida Udre over recent months, while some senior politicians in Latvia had questioned the "right" of civil society organisations to raise concerns about the nomination.
Roberts Putnis, Chairman of Delna, said today: "Latvia's Anti-Corruption Bureau (KNAB) found that a proportion of donations to the Green and Farmers' Union contravened the election laws, and it would have been a disservice to the European Commission and the European Union as a whole to have as a Commissioner the head of that political party. The case continues before the courts, and we welcome the decision of Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the Latvian government to withdraw her nomination."
According to Miklos Marschall, "the story of Ingrida Udre shows that some generally accepted ethical standards should prevail over sheer political quid-pro-quos. It is vital for the reputation of the EU in general that its leaders - both elected and appointed - demonstrate a high standard of personal and professional integrity."
"The story also shows the power of civil society," said Marschall. "TI Latvia/Delna - together with other non-governmental organisations - took the courage to protest against the nomination of Ms Udre despite attempts by senior politicians to silence them, and indeed to question the legitimacy of civil society organisations in Latvia."
"TI Latvia/Delna is to be commended for its perseverance in raising these very legitimate concerns about Ms Udre's candidacy," he continued. "They exercised their basic rights by raising awareness about the problems with her nomination. They were right, and the final outcome is a victory for all who combat corruption, and a victory for Latvia and the EU as a whole."
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Chairman, Delna (TI Latvia)
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Jeff Lovitt (TI Secretariat, Berlin)
Tel: +49-30-3438 2045
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