Political processes need fresh air to be successful, and that can be supplied by a civil society characterised by maturity, self-respect and active civic involvement, said Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, on Friday, 29 May, at the opening of the annual Saeima and NGO forum on Involvement, Equality and Solidarity – Modern Values for Security and Freedom.
In her address, the Speaker emphasised that politics is not shaped by politicians alone. “It is a mistake for politicians to assume that they can disregard public opinion. Such an attitude can lead to a feeling of impunity, and in the worst case – abuse of power. That, in turn, can have a devastating effect on the reputation of politics and on public trust. The belief that the opinions of civil society do not matter is not a sign of political strength,” said Ināra Mūrniece.
When describing the NGO situation in Latvia, Speaker Mūrniece noted that there are popular traditional non-governmental organisations whose achievements are highly appreciated. Concurrently, she noted with gratification the rapid development of a new trend – local active civic initiatives. “There are active groups of like-minded people who do not receive grants, nor do they have an institutional network; nevertheless, their activity cannot be overlooked. Some of them are not even official organisations even though they have practical goals and tangible achievements. Their strength lies in the ability of people to organise themselves, to find followers actively and swiftly and to launch various campaigns.”
The Speaker of the Saeima emphasised the importance of initiatives implemented by active civil society. “These initiatives are driven by an experience-based need. NGOs are among the most reliable legislative partners of the Saeima, and they bring the necessary fresh air to political processes,” said Speaker Mūrniece; she also acknowledged that the NGO forum provides an excellent opportunity to maintain a link between politicians and active citizens.
The Speaker extended gratitude to representatives of NGOs who embody active citizenry. “An active citizenry means public involvement in civic and political processes on the local, national, regional and global level. The Saeima and the NGO forum attest to the significance of an active citizenry. Involvement, equality and solidarity are values which unite humanity – values which we want to have in our families, nation, the state and the world,” said Ināra Mūrniece. She added that active citizenry is oriented towards strengthening human dignity, as well as bridging social, economic and political gaps.
Saeima Press Service