A former Latvian ambassador to the U.S. has been named to head the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission, the Saeima press office announced Nov. 4.
Ojārs Kalniņš, who grew up in Chicago and went on to be a spokesperson for the American Latvian Association before becoming a diplomat, was elected unanimously by commission members to the chairman’s post. He served as Latvia’s ambassador in Washington, D.C., from 1993-1999.
The Foreign Affairs Commission considers treaties and other legislation involving Latvia’s relations with other countries. The commission also reviews candidates for Latvian ambassadorships.
Kalniņš, who from 2000 led the government-run Latvian Institute information agency, is among candidates from the centrist Vienotība bloc elected Oct. 2 to the Saeima.
Also serving on the Foreign Affairs Commission are Iveta Grigule of the conservative Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība (Union of Greens and Farmers, or ZZS); Sergejs Mirskis of the center-left Saskaņas Centrs (Harmony Centre, or SC); Jānis Dombrava of the nationalist bloc Visu Latvijai! – Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK (All for Latvia! – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK); Valentīns Grigorjevs (SC); Atis Lejiņš (Vienotība); Imants Viesturs Lieģis (Vienotība); Linda Mūrniece (Vienotība); Raimonds Rubiks (SC); Staņislavs Šķesters (ZZS); and former President Guntis Ulmanis, who is now a member of parliament representing the conservative blox Par labu Latviju! (For a Good Latvia!).
The Foreign Affairs Commission is one of 16 commissions in the Saeima.
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