Latvian defence minister elected as new president

Raimonds Vejonis become first Green Party member president of an EU nation

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Green Party member and Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis was elected as the country’s new president on Wednesday .

After the results were released, Vejonis emphasised the importance of Latvian national security saying “my priority without any doubt will be national security, the strengthening of our armed forces and our borders.”

"We've already agreed to spend two percent of GDP on defence by 2018, but we need to ask what else we can do to enhance national security," Vejonis added.

"I'll do my best to continue my work to improve Latvia's security and promote the welfare of the country as a whole.”

Vejonis, 48, is known for his support of NATO and his stand against pro-Russian rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine.

"I would like to improve relations with Russia... but while Russian rockets and heavy weapons remain in Ukraine, that's not really possible," Vejonis said.

The other candidates - European Court of Justice judge Egils Levits, banker Martin Bondars, and pro-Russian National Harmony Party member Sergejs Dolgopolovs - were all eliminated in the first round of voting.

In the last round, Vejonis took 55 of the 100 votes and became the first Green Party member to become the president of an EU nation.

Before taking on the role of defense minister in 2014, Raimonds Vejonis served as the environment minister twice between 2003 and 2011.

The Latvian Green Party (LZP) was founded in 1990 as a member of European Green Party, but unlike most Green parties around the world who generally stand in the centre-left, the Latvian Green Party is a centre-right party.

TRTWorld and agencies