Klaucēns quits as honorary consul

Citing differences of opinion with the government, Norberts Klaucēns has resigned from his post as Latvia’s honorary consul in Chicago. The Latvian Foreign Ministry now is searching for a new honorary consul to serve the American Midwest, but is not limiting its search to the Chicago area, according to one diplomat.

Klaucēns, who served six years as honorary consul in Chicago, said that his resignation was offered and accepted in late March. But it’s only in the past week that it has become wider known.

“My views simply began to differ from the government’s,” Klaucēns said of his decision to quit, adding that his opinions were more in line with the people of Latvia rather than its politicians. His views on issues such as NATO’s war on Yugoslavia, which the Latvian government supported but Klaucens did not, caused uneasiness in the Foreign Ministry.

What particularly troubled diplomats were Klaucēns’ outspoken articles in the daily newspaper Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze and, more recently, Jaunā Avīze.

“We always have had regard for Mr. Klaucēns,” said Pēteris Viņķelis, counselor for public policy and economic affairs in the Embassy of Latvia in Washington, D.C.

No official candidates for Klaucēns’ replacement have been named, Viņķelis said. The Foreign Ministry is researching possibilities, he said, adding that a new honorary consul would not necessarily be based in the Chicago area nor would the person necessarily have to be of Latvian heritage.

Latvia has three other honorary consuls in the United States: Pēteris Jurjāns in Cleveland, Stephen P. Payne in Houston and Alfreds Raisters in Los Angeleles.

For his part, Klaucēns said he will remain busy with his financial interests in Latvia, but has no desire to become involved in the nation’s politics.

“I have a very low regard for politicians,” he said, “and that’s universally, not just in Latvia.”

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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