IC: You are co-hosting the Annual Conference of the Innovation Circle Network in Jurmala (8-9 December) headlined "Europe in Transformation". What are you looking forward to the most and why do you consider this event to be important for LALRG and Latvia in general?

Mudite Priede: We look forward to learn new best practices in developing territories, how to continue to develop territories in crisis, as well as new approaches and innovative ideas.

IC: What are the main challenges for Latvian communities today?


Mudite Priede: The main challenge for Latvian local governments is budget 2012. Since this is the last year (I hope so) when we have to consolidate the budget - make budget cuts. The LALRG is leading very hard negotiations with the central government about local governments’ share. The main challenge of our local governments will be to provide all needed services to inhabitants with the reduced budget.


IC: How, in your opinion, should Latvians on a local and national level handle these challenges?


Mudite Priede: I strongly believe that LALRG and central government could find the compromise and take responsibility together.


IC: Is the financial crisis in Europe a significant issue for communities in Latvia?


Mudite Priede: Latvia was the first country which experienced the financial crisis in Europe. Year 2012 will be the last one when we have to continue the budget consolidation. The IMF has finished its mission and Latvia has regained its solvency and capacity to act on an international market. We hope that we will not be hit by the second wave of the financial crisis.

5. What is the most positive issue you can say about the present situation in Latvia?

Local governments of Latvia have always been and still are very responsible. It has been a foundation of social stability during period of crisis.  Local governments of Latvia are the driving force of reforms and promoters of innovations in service providing. Local governments of Latvia are also facilitators of citizen participation, integration and cooperation.