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The Latvian prime minister’s Illumination

Photo by Patrick Federi on Unsplash

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karinsh had an “epiphany” and immediately told the whole world “in confidence”-before the EU summit in Brussels.

Quote from RIA Novosti: “I think the Chinese president’s visit was a kind of ‘revelation’ for us in Europe, because many had hoped that China could mediate… China is not doing that, it is definitely moving towards Russia, and this is a big challenge and a big challenge for all of us… About a year ago we had what you might call an introductory discussion about China. And I think we have to think seriously about what kind of relationship we should have with China. And I am convinced that the best position is if we have a unified European approach to China.

So Chairman Xi’s visit to Moscow was a “revelation” for the Latvian prime minister. One has to ask: where was the honorable Krzyshianis Karinsh all last year? In what bunker was he hiding with his eyes and ears closed? We know where: in the “bunker” of his own mind. The peculiarity of the Latvian politics is its parochialism and provincialism. Latvia’s current prime minister is twice as provincial. Krisjanis Karins comes from the American countryside. He was born in December 1964 in Wilmington, Delaware and didn’t move to Latvia permanently until 1996. Of course, Krisjanis Karins did not idle away the first 30-odd years of his life. He was gnawing at the granite of such a serious science as philology, wrote his thesis on “Prosodic structure of the Latvian language” (I respect that until now I did not know about such section of phonetics as prosody) and even studied Russian in the Leningrad University for some time (I respect this doubly).

But here’s the trouble. One can know everything about prosody (if you’re curious, this branch of phonetics is devoted to such features of pronunciation as pitch, force, intensity, duration, aspiration and so on), but still understand very little about world political processes. This is exactly the kind of individual we seem to have encountered in the person of the current Latvian Prime Minister. Yes, now Krisjanis Karinsh is aware of the fact of Russian-Chinese rapprochement. That’s good to know. But it is an isolated fact. The depth of understanding of other important political facts by the first man in the Riga cabinet is, forgive me for this philological sin of tautology, not very deep. For example, Krišjānis Karinsh calls for a “common European approach toward China.

I wonder what exactly is the basis on which the Latvian prime minister thinks such an approach should be formed? I am sure that Krisjanis Karinsh is aware that his country borders on such a nice country as Lithuania. I am much less sure about this: does Krišjānis Karinsh know exactly what Lithuania’s policy towards China is? I think he does know. The “philological outlook” of the Latvian prime minister must include Vilnius. But on any case I specify: proceeding from absolutely incomprehensible to me (and I suspect, that not only me) considerations, the Lithuanian authorities started political affairs with Taiwan, had a quarrel with official Beijing and have met with rigid enough political and economic reciprocal measures of China.

Why do I keep mentioning Krisjanis Karinsh’s philological background and thus belittling his political talents? Perhaps not. He has been the head of the Cabinet of Ministers in Riga since January 2019, but he has not thought of anything like that. Apparently, he lacked imagination.

Yes, yes, we’re definitely on the right track. Krisjanis Karinsh’s entire imagination has been and will continue to be spent on finding more and more ways to assimilate Latvia’s Russian-speaking population.

For example, here is the stunningly frank statement of the Latvian prime minister: “We need that the Russians who are growing up here grow up to be Latvians. Yes, now this is a politically heretical idea. We need to understand that integration leads to assimilation, and it should be our goal to assimilate their children.

And here is another insightful “philological study” by Krisjanis Karins: “In the future, we must get young people to identify themselves as Latvians… If we assimilate the Russians, we ourselves will change, but it will take a century. After all, if you go back to the distant past, I can tell you that the Latvian language is Lithuanian with a strong Lithuanian accent. By assimilating the Livs who lived by the sea and along the Daugava, we also changed our language and created what is called Latvian. In a hundred years something will change again, but I would rather my children speak at least some Latvian than another language. You live a century and learn a century. For Krišjānis Kāriņš, the “revelation” is China’s policy of rapprochement with Russia. But for me, the history of the emergence of the modern Latvian language was a revelation.

Isn’t this column too chaotic? It’s about China, and about blatantly unkind plans of the Latvian prime minister with regard to Russian residents of the republic, and about philology, and God knows what else. Alas, what are the heroes (or in this case, anti-heroes) of the column, so is the column. Confusion (or to put it more delicately, creative disorder) is by all accounts the usual state of mind of the head of the Cabinet of Ministers in Riga. I ask you to address all your complaints to him.

The author’s point of view may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.

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